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Lundy WLO report Ilfracombe-Lundy 18 May

Ilfracombe harbour was busy, and the spell of fine weather brought more day visitors. It was a very good day for sailing with a light northerly wind and sea state 0 to 1 so perfect for seeing cetacean fins. We set off promptly at 10:00 with 210 passengers, including a big family group for Millcombe House and a party of 14 rock climbers who were staying in the Barn.

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. As it is peak breeding season for Puffin, they were the focus for several. I let them know that now their numbers have increased the Battery area is a better place to see them at closer range than Jenny’s Cove. Wardens on the island were at Jenny’s with a scope to let visitors see the birds more clearly. I encouraged people to join the Lundy Ambassador on her guided walk and Common Dolphin were seen from the south cliffs on this walk.

Common dolphin (Library photo: Rick Morris)

With the sea being so calm, many people on board saw Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin for almost the whole way across, on both port and starboard sides. None were around for very long, but there were so many sightings than nobody missed out. Two people saw what from their description could have been a Minke Whale, but regrettably it was too late to be able to verify it.

Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

One sighting that kept several engaged in conversation for a long time was two Grey Seals floating on their backs alongside each other at about 200m away. All we could see through binoculars were two snouts and two sets of flippers pointing upwards. Fortunately, we were able to get confirmation of identity from one passenger with a long-lensed camera – zooming in on the photo we could see the whiskers on the snouts. These sightings gave rise to lots of useful learning about cetaceans.

For birders, the presence of three Golden Oriole in Millcombe valley was the draw and a sub-adult male was caught in a mist net on the morning before we arrived. There are still some interesting warblers around the valley, plus many auks and other sea birds on the west coast. For some of those staying on the island the Manx Shearwaters were the attraction and I was able to advise them on the best places to hear them coming into their burrows after dark.

Guillemot (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On both crossings Guillemot and Razorbill were the most frequently seen birds, with an occasional Gannet and Shag, plus a Kittiwake. Day visitors had a good time on the island with lots of sightings of wild goats, Soay Sheep, and the ponies.

Our return journey was again calm, and we made good time, docking on schedule in Ilfracombe. As ever huge thanks to the Captain Jason, 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 0-1, wind N 1

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin 30

Harbour Porpoise 20

Grey Seal 4


Herring Gull








Wildlife seen on Lundy

Grey Seal





Carrion Crow




Great Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

House Martin

House Sparrow




Wood Pigeon







Rock Pipit



Meadow Pipit

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