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Lundy WLO Ilfracombe-Lundy 20 April

Ilfracombe harbour was busy, despite the falling tide and the Gig rowers and paddle boarders were out as we watched the lifeboat launched from its trailer for practice drills. It was a good day for sailing with a light easterly wind and sea state 0 to 2. After loading the empty animal trailer onto the front deck we set off with 162 passengers, including some excited children.

I passed around the decks and had some wonderful conversations with people about their hopes for the day, or for those staying on the island of their plans for the time that they would be there. Quite a few wanted advice about possible places to visit and for those who were on their first trip I encouraged them to join the Lundy Ambassador on her guided walk.

Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

An LFS work party were going over to spend a week on island maintenance jobs, so they were looking forward to their stay. I exchanged knowledge with some of the regular visitors to the island and we talked about the latest island bird sightings in the Observatory blog. These included a Golden Oriole, Night Heron, and Woodchat Shrike, plus Cuckoo had been heard on the island during the week.

About 10 minutes outside the harbour, we saw 4 Harbour Porpoise on the port side, close to the coast. This was followed by the first of the Fulmar flying low and close to the sea. Auks were the most common birds seen, Guillemot and Razorbill on both crossings with an occasional Gannet and Shag as we approached the island.

The greatest excitement for most people were the Common Dolphin that entertained us as they appeared on the starboard side and in the wake, riding the waves. They were in small groups but estimated to be around 10 in total, all adults. They were with us for about 20 minutes as the island grew large in our view.

A pair of bird ringers were busy on the island with mist nets in several locations in Millcombe and Blackcap, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were common. They reckoned to have hit the peak of the Willow Warbler migration and averaged a total of about 200 birds a day of various species, with 260 being the peak.

Common Swift (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

As I walked up towards the tavern for a pasty the skies were filled with a non-stop stream of Hirundines, mostly Swallow with some House Martin and one Swift. I was fortunate to see a male Pied Flycatcher and a Whitethroat in the low trees at the top of the valley.

Our return journey was again calm, and we made good time, docking nearly half an hour early. As ever huge thanks to the officers and crew of the ‘Oldenburg’ for their help and assistance.

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Kevin Waterfall

Weather: bright and sunny on both passages, sea state 0-2, wind force 1-2


Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin 10

Harbour Porpoise 4



Herring Gull







Wildlife on Lundy

Grey Seal



Carrion Crow




Great Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

House Martin

House Sparrow


Lesser Black-backed Gull


Meadow Pipit


Peregrine Falcon

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Wagtail









Willow Warbler

Wood Pigeon



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