Ilfracombe-Lundy WLO report 30 April
Summary of sightings
Cetaceans: Harbour Porpoise 15+
Common Dolphin 2 Grey Seal 2 Seabirds: Herring Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Great Black-backed Gull Kittiwake Fulmar Guillemot Razorbill Puffin
Oystercatcher Shag Gannet Manx Shearwater
At Ilfracombe harbour I met up with Tony, one of the Lundy Ambassadors, who was going to lead the guided walk on the island. We also had a group of Lundy Conservation Volunteers on board who were going over to carry out tasks for the Ranger.
We left Ilfracombe on a sunny morning to a farewell chorus from 5 Oystercatchers. The weather forecast of force 1 – 3 from Captain Jason indicated a smooth crossing, which it was both ways. As I started to move around the ship my role on board was announced, which encouraged people to come and talk with me about what they hoped to see and where to visit on the island. Everyone wanted to see Puffin and lots of people had questions about seals, dolphins and porpoises. Some groups had forgotten to bring their binoculars, but were able to hire them from the information officer on board which considerably improved their sightings from the cliffs around the island.
I was optimistic of some cetacean sightings and a whale had been reported by the crew a couple of weeks ago. On the outward journey we followed a Gannet and saw two more, plus a few Guillemot rafting and fishing, but it was mostly quiet until we saw 4 Harbour Porpoise in mid channel. We were greeted in Landing Bay by the Grey Seal that seems to spend a lot of time there, and a Peregrine Falcon flying over. The cruise ship Ocean Nova was just preparing to leave for Skomer.
This time of year on Lundy there are a lot of passage migrants around including Willow Warbler and Blackcap in Milcombe Valley as we walked up to the village. On top there were Wheatear and Skylark everywhere, plus hundreds of Swallow. People who went to Jenny’s Cove were pleased to have seen Puffin, as well as Guillemot and Razorbill clinging to the cliff ledges. There were plenty of Fulmar nesting on the west coast and a few Kittiwake tucked into the cracks of the cliffs.
Our return journey was millpond smooth and only half a mile offshore we saw a group of Harbour Porpoise behind the ship. A few Common Dolphin played in the residual wave of our wake for about 45 minutes riding in and just showing forward of the wave line. We passed rafts of auks fishing and had a flypast of about 50 Manx Shearwater before a pair of Common Dolphin appeared close to the port side of the Oldenburg. Then a Harbour Porpoise off the starboard side, clear for everyone to see, before we docked in Ilfracombe after a swift 1hour 40 minute crossing.
As ever a huge thanks to the officers and crew of the ‘Oldenburg’ for their help and assistance.
MARINElife/Lundy WLO Kevin Waterfall