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WLO report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 1 July

We left Ilfracombe harbour in a moderate sea and light overcast but with the promise of sunshine later and indeed the sunshine was waiting for us at Lundy. Unfortunately, the moderate sea state was not conducive to spotting the little Harbour Porpoise which are often seen along the coast from Ilfracombe.

Heading out into the channel, I made my way around decks to chat wildlife with the other passengers. Mentioning that MARINElife are working in partnership with the Landmark Trust who manage Lundy Island, to enhance the Saturday crossing by giving guidance and help spotting mammals and seabirds. Also, on board was one of the Lundy Ambassadors who was going to lead a walk from the landing stage around the south end of the island.

Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Many passengers were very keen to see Puffins and were relieved to hear that they should be around their nest sites until mid-July. Jenny’s Cove was their main refuge on the island when introduced rats were a problem taking the eggs and chicks. Lundy was declared rat free in 2006 after a joint eradication effort by Natural England, The Landmark Trust, The National Trust, and the RSPB. Puffin numbers have now recovered from low tens to over a thousand! This means they have spread southward along the west coast and can also be seen from the old battery. The Manx Shearwaters have also benefited for the same reason, and they are also now flourishing on the island.

It was a quiet crossing with scattered seabirds to be seen including a few Gannets. Two of these were first summer birds still in their brown juvenile plumage which confused a few people who didn’t realise it can take 5/6 years for them to fully attain their beautiful white plumage. On arrival at Lundy three Grey Seals were bottling in the harbour and another three were hauled out on rat island taking their ease – including one large bull. Before hiking up to the village I had a delightful swim off the beach and was accompanied, mostly at a distance, by a couple of curious juvenile Grey Seals. After one of them had plucked up the courage to give my foot a quick nudge I decided it was time to head up to the Marisco Tavern for Lunch.

Grey Seal (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

I headed back down to the jetty early to have another look at the jellyfish around the pier. There were four species here: - Moon Jellyfish, Blue fire Jellyfish, Compass Jellyfish, and a relative newcomer to UK waters - the aptly named Crystal Jellyfish.

There were more seabirds to be seen on the return trip to Ilfracombe with sporadic sightings of gulls, auks and Gannet and small groups of Manx Shearwater could be seen effortlessly soaring just above the waves.

As ever, huge thanks to the crew of the ‘Oldenburg’ and the shore office for their help and assistance.

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Maggie Gamble

Summary of sightings: Marine Mammals An unidentified cetacean seen by a passenger soon after leaving Ilfracombe. Grey Seal Seabirds

Herring Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Great Black-backed Gull Kittiwake Fulmar Guillemot Razorbill Puffin Shag Gannet Manx Shearwater

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