Bideford quayside at 06:35 was a hive of activity with people and stores gathering ready and keen to get on board. We even had a baling machine on the foredeck in two large chunks going over to the island as the previous one could not be repaired. I chatted with the vicar who was going over to hold Harvest Festival in the church on Sunday, with the Lundy Ambassador and some returning staff.
We pulled away on time at 07:30 and the sky lightened as we moved down the river under the A39 high level bridge. The Little Egrets in the trees on the West bank before Appledore Shipyard stood out clearly against the dark green of the trees, not yet in autumn colours. At the junction of the rivers, we passed the myriad of small boats and coming past Northam Burrows we could see the waves over the bar at the rivers’ mouth.
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 resident on the island. 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 up to Jenny’s Cove. 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, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Ring Ouzel, Wryneck and Red-eyed Vireo.
At the announcement of the food counter being open a rush of people queued up for bacon sandwiches, pasties and coffees. The sea was moderate, and we could see a few Manx Shearwater swooping along the troughs of the waves and a few Gannet also. The frequency of the waves meant that trying to find cetaceans was difficult, but one Harbour Porpoise was seen on the way over.
The joy of a trip to Lundy at this time of year for the passengers was the number of seals and pups on the rocks of Rat Island and on the beach in Landing Bay. There were seven pups on the beach easily seen and frequently photographed from the roadway up to Millcombe valley. Storm Agnes had passed over the island last week and according to a group of seal surveyors who were on the return trip, none of the pups in Landing Bay had been harmed.
The Observatory Warden, Joe, and his deputy Luke have had a busy time ringing birds caught in their mist nets of late and on the morning of our visit they had again seen the Barred Warbler and an Ortolan Bunting. Migration is still happening and there were a lot of Blackcap and other warblers in Millcombe valley plus flights of hirundines passing over the island and the odd Wheatear standing sentinel on rocks around the island.
Our return journey was a bit blowy until we passed Hartland Point and came into the lee of the land.
As ever huge thanks to the officers and crew of the ‘Oldenburg’ for their help and assistance.
MARINElife/Lundy WLO Kevin Waterfall
Summary of sightings:
Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 25
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull