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Poole-Jersey survey 20 April

There were many foot passengers waiting to board for holidays in the Channel Islands as I arrived at Poole ferry port. I met up with Steve Smith who was looking forward to getting to grips with the data sheets on his first survey with us, although already an experienced cetacean and bird watcher.

We were soon on board and after introducing ourselves to reception, we were escorted up to the bridge to meet Captain James Smith, who warmly welcomed us as we prepared our paperwork.

Soon after leaving the berth, we had stunning views of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, followed by the Dorset coast looking splendid in the morning sunlight, as we cleared Old Harry Rock we started surveying.

Auks were the first bird sighting which were more than likely from the nearby Durlston colony. Swallow sped past reminding us that it was Spring, even though we had a northerly wind and a temperature of 5 degrees.

Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Glare did hinder our viewing slightly, but a single Harbour Porpoise was spotted close to the bow with Alderney visible in the distance.

Bird sightings were constant as we approached Guernsey with more sightings towards Jersey.

Our return sailing from Jersey afforded brilliant views of Corbiere Lighthouse, which on the 24th was about to celebrate its 150th year. It certainly looked smart having been repainted for the occasion. Also looking smart were the two Gannetries in Alderney as we sailed close by, a privilege to get such a beautiful view.

Ortac Gannet colony (Library photo: Nigel Northwood)

Interesting was a sighting of a Marsh Harrier high in the sky moving between the Islands. Just as I mentioned to Steve S. that bird sightings were becoming quiet, 11 adult Little Gull lifted off the sea and flew alongside for a while. Two circling Gannet then alerted us to a distant cetacean, but with such a brief view we could not clinch identification.

As we ended our survey at the Poole harbour entrance, we enjoyed the sail in as the sun was about to set.

We thanked the crew and then noticed a sign stating Condor’s mission statement: ‘We want good times for everyone’. On this occasion, mission accomplished!

Steve Boswell and Steve Smith Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: mainly northerly wind up to 20 knots with clear skies

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Unidentified Cetacean 1


Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2

Gannet Morus bassanus 25

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2

Guillemot Uria aalge 59

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 33

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 11

Puffin Fratercula arctica 3

Razorbill Alca torda 8

Shag Gulosus aristotelis 11

Auk sp. 23

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