Lundy WLO report Bideford-Lundy 6 August
The Puffins and other auks for which Lundy is internationally renowned have left the island after their short, but intense, nesting season.
I knew this ahead of my trip, but before embarking on the MS Oldenburg on Sunday 6 August I was keen to learn how many seabirds we might see enroute to the island. Storm Antoni – an unseasonable August storm – had rattled through the Bristol Channel the previous day, forcing a one-day delay to the MS Oldenburg schedule. While waiting to board on Bideford Quay I pondered the question about whether the storm might have displaced the seabirds or whether it could have forced more closer to the coast. Tantalisingly, there had been reports of a Cory’s Shearwater along the North Devon coast.
After greeting Jason, the skipper, and his crew I took up my position on the aft decks ready to talk to passengers about the wildlife they may expect to see. The usual gulls and egrets along the Torridge Estuary were complemented by a few Cormorants flying in low from Bideford Bay.
Out into Bideford Bay, the conditions were wonderful. Plenty of bright spells, but a moderate swell. Presumably a hangover from the previous day’s storm. Chatting to fellow passengers I kept one eye on the horizon looking out for any seabirds. All was quiet, none of the usual father-and-chick pairings of Guillemot, no Kittiwake, no Gannet and no Manx Shearwater. I was beginning to become concerned.
During a quiet spell I decided to undertake an official count for a solid 20 minutes and diligently record any seabirds that I saw. In the first ten minutes a lone Fulmar was the only bird to puncture the period. Then to my relief a line of Gannet came into view, a few of them inspecting us as they went overhead.
Through my binoculars I followed the line of birds to their destination, hoping to catch a glimpse of a fin breaking the surface. No dolphin in view but the swell may have hidden any that were about. After a while a few Manx Shearwaters and more Fulmar gave themselves up too.
Nearing Lundy Island the conditions became much calmer and by now the sun had broken out to the delight of the island visitors.
I am always excited to arrive in the island’s Landing Bay – it reminds me of the first time I visited the island four decades ago. Just like then, a bottling Grey Seal provided entertainment as Jason skilfully brought his vessel alongside the jetty.
A green-eyed Shag came close by resplendent in the August sunshine. The Bideford crossing allows an even longer stay on the island: plenty of time to catch up with Lundy’s diversity of wildlife.
In a brief spell of warmer conditions, I took my time on my ascent to the top of the island taking a few breaks along the way. It’s amazing how a brief ‘breather’ always coincides with a decent ‘photo opportunity’.
A mix of the usual species was complemented by Kestrel, Grey Heron and a couple of Hummingbird Hawkmoths sipping nectar from the Red Valerian in Millcombe.
A huge thank you to Captain Jason and the Oldenburg crew, and the team at the Lundy Shore Office. MARINElife/Lundy WLO Grahame Madge
Summary of sightings:
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull