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Ilfracombe-Lundy survey report 14 May

Stephen Hedley and Rachel Talbot, Research surveyors for MARINElife (registered charity no.: 1110884, reg. company no.: 5057367)


Outward – wind SW 2, sea state 1-2, visibility good.

Return – wind S 2, sea state 1-2, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 5

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1


Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7

Gannet Morus bassanus 5

Guillemot Uria aalge 67

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 46

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 43

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 152

Puffin Fratercula arctica 4

Razorbill Alca torda 3

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2

Other Birds

Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

Upon boarding the Oldenburg we were welcomed by the Captain and crew and shown to the survey position on the bridge. We set off at around 10:00 and started the survey once we passed out of the harbour. The weather was promising, clear and sunny and the sea calm.

After leaving the harbour Herring Gull were soon flying overhead, although the first bird seen was a single Guillemot. After 15 minutes we spotted the day’s first Fulmar, one of seven sightings throughout the day, as it glided low over the water with its characteristic stiffly held wings. After a further 15 minutes an immature Gannet was seen flying nearby and a short time afterwards we spotted our only cetacean of the day – one Harbour Porpoise that crossed in front of the bow.

Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Kittiwake were spotted, along with recently returned Manx Shearwater as Lundy got closer. Razorbill and Shag were the other two species seen. We stopped the survey on the final approach to Lundy and just afterwards we spotted four Grey Seal resting on nearby rocks.

We then had a few hours wandering around the island, enjoying the sunshine and dramatic coastline. Returning to the pier a young Grey Seal was lying on the shore, doing a good impression of a rock, so much so that some struggled to spot it!

Fulmar (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On the return conditions were still good, with the sun behind us so there was no glare to contend with. We observed Guillemot, Kittiwake, the occasional Gannet and Fulmar and rafts of Manx Shearwater, plus several Puffin, which provided one of the highlights of the survey. Regrettably however we did not see the Minke Whale that Megan (the WLO saw – see her separate report). The only other new addition was a Swallow on migration still.

We arrived back at Ilfracombe promptly at about 18:00, having caught the returning tide. Our thanks go to the Captain Jason and his welcoming crew for their hospitality and a great survey.

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