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Lundy WLO report Bideford-Lundy 25 May

I met up with Captain Jason and the crew of the Oldenburg, and we set out into the Bristol Channel in bright sunshine and flat calm in a gentle south-east wind. The website 'Windguru' had forecast swell of less than 0.4m, so I was hopeful of some sightings on the glassy sea and in the low-contrast, grey light free of haze.

 

The ship was packed with passengers heading for Lundy for the school half-term, and there was a multitude of questions about Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. Questions and discussions flowed, and much interest was stimulated when the ship passed close to several large rafts of shearwaters, just a few of the c12,000 that now breed on Lundy and the c500,000 from Pembrokeshire. The visibility was excellent and with the shore of Pembrokeshire visible to the north-west, it was not hard to imagine many of these birds breeding in Wales. Two small pods of Common Dolphins accompanied the ship for a few minutes, delighting the passengers who were lucky enough to be looking in the right direction at the right time. 

Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

In addition to those dolphins and shearwaters, the outward trip list included smart Razorbills and Guillemots, two Puffins, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. Once we were close to the east coast of Lundy, Shags in breeding plumage and a single Fulmar were seen, and good views of auks nesting amongst the flowering Lundy Cabbage.  A few Barn Swallows skimmed low over the sea in a northerly direction, evidence of visible migration.

 

On deck were two Lundy Ambassadors who were leading a guided walk on the island, so at 11:15 a large party set off to find the island’s star attractions on the west coast. I accompanied them as the bird expert and learnt some interesting aspects of the island’s history, as well as pointing out breeding Wheatears and a Peregrine that flew up the East Coast. Thus at 1pm there were more than forty happy passengers sitting in the sunshine on the west cliffs and admiring at least 200 Puffins on the slopes below. The visible migration continued throughout the day, with about 200 hirundines flying north along the west coast during the walk.

 

Battery Point provided a few more Puffins and an obliging Grey Seal on the rocks below.

Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The return to Bideford saw several very large rafts of Manx, more auks, and at last, the first Gannets of the day as the ship negotiated the Bideford Bar. Possibly the same pod of Common Dolphins put on a spectacular if brief display, with one leaping clear of the sea adjacent to the ship but disappearing immediately afterwards.

 

As ever, huge thanks to Captain Jason and the crew of the ‘Oldenburg’ for their help and assistance.

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Peter Hopkin


Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin 3+

Grey Seal 4 on Rat Island


Seabirds

Herring Gull 20

Kittiwake 10

Guillemot 20

Razorbill 4

Shag 10 close to Lundy

Gannet 2

Manx Shearwater 250

Fulmar 2

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