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WLO report Ilfracombe-Lundy 26 August

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

After driving through torrential rain, I was relieved to have arrived in Ilfracombe to some dry weather. Having collected my ticket, I took the opportunity to speak with some of the passengers as we were waiting to board. It looked as though there were plenty of climbers as well as plenty of day visitors making the most of the August bank holiday.

Departing Ilfracombe conditions were slight and overcast, picking up to moderate as we entered the middle of the Bristol Channel. The sea state made observations challenging with all but sporadic sightings of Gannet for our outward journey. Passengers were keen to engage and learn about the work we do at MARINElife so it’s always nice to show them how they can get involved.

Grey Seal (Megan Strachan)

Arriving on Lundy at high tide gave us brief glimpses of the Grey Seal around Rat Island. After disembarking and observing the seals for a few moments, I headed up to Milcombe valley for a quick pitstop lunch overlooked by a pair of Goldfinch. I then headed along the footpath round the eastern side of the island, finding a suitable spot I picked up the binoculars again and could see good numbers of Gannet on the horizon with some diving, although no sightings of cetaceans. The butterflies were out in all their glory, and I managed to catch a proper look at a Meadow Brown and a Large White as they landed within the bracken.

I took a steady walk back down to Landing Bay to enjoy watching the Grey Seal ahead of boarding at 15:30. It was amusing to witness 4 or 5 individuals taking it in turns to watch the gathering passengers on the Jetty. What was most lovely however, was witnessing a male and female seemingly play together underwater.

Our return journey was more productive, with regular sightings of Gannet and Fulmar, and the odd Manx Shearwater. We also caught a fleeting glimpse of what looked like a tern, although this was so quick, I did not get chance to 'lock on’ with my binoculars to confirm. Most exciting perhaps was witnessing a couple of Gannet diving very close to the ship. Amazing how such a large bird can fold itself up into a streamlined projectile and make barely a splash when it enters the water.

A huge thanks to Captain Paul and the Oldenburg crew for having me on board, and the team at the Lundy Shore Office for their time.

Summary of sightings:

Grey Seal



Gull spp. (mixed)

Manx Shearwater

Tern spp.


Meadow Brown

Large White

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