MARINElife & RSPB Bottlenose Dolphin and Balearic Shearwater South West Survey, Tuesday the 18th of August 2015.

This week I was given the opportunity to take part in this survey which was made up of a fleet of small boats and ships, the survey was from Portland in Dorset to Ilfracombe in North Devon. It covered the whole of the South West, the surveys all lasted eight hours in which time we saw a multitude of sea animals and sea birds.

Survey teams Ilfracombe Harbour

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Lundy Island Trip from Ilfracombe - 15th of August 2015.

This months Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island started in good weather conditions in the company of two fellow MARINElife surveyors, who were onboard for the August Lundy survey. After boarding I left the bridge to embark on navigating myself around the upper and lower outside decks. Before I started chatting to the passengers the first cetacean, a Harbour Porpoise was spotted outside of the harbour.
Within five minutes of leaving Ilfracombe the first of many Gannets were observed souring high above the sea looking for fish to dive on to. As the MS Oldenburg made its way towards Lundy, birds seen were Fulmar, Kittiwake, Lesser Blacked Gull, Guillemot, Herring Gull and Shag. As we got closer to Lundy the amount of Manx Shearwater seen was well over a thousand birds!

A very rapid Manx Shearwater

Two more Manx Shearwater
The outward passage also gave me an opportunity to point out five Common Dolphin off the starboard side feeding under a large gathering of diving Gannets. Before we reached Lundy I was approached by one of the passengers asking what cetacean he had seen on the crossing, he described a Minké Whale and we soon confirmed it with the use of my iphone app, sadly I did not see it!

As the Oldenburg approached Lundy many Grey Seal were hauled out on the rocks.

As we docked everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels to explore the Island. Following a quick chat with Beccy the islands warden to find out what species were reported recently, I too, then began to make me way up to the top of the island. My route took me to the western side of Lundy where I found a great spot for lunch. Here I set myself up for some sea watching. No cetaceans were spotted, however the number of birds ran in to thousands! Time on Lundy goes so quickly when you are exploring its many footpaths and cliff edges, the views are fantastic as is the whole island experience. No cars, roads, mobile signal, only peace and quiet, plus the wildlife. The Lundy wild animals included Ponies, Goats, Sika Deer as well as the farm's sheep and Highland cattle.
The crossing back from Lundy provided two further Common Dolphin and two Bottlenose Dolphin sightings and a single large Grey Seal.

Grey Seal Spy Hopping
Upon leaving Oldenburg I said goodbye to my fellow MARINElife volunteers and I now look forward to my next WLO trip in September which will form part of another Devon birding weekend.

Birds seen this trip were, Manx Shearwater,Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed gull, Fulmar, Guillemot, Shag, Gannet, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Starling, Raven, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, House Martin, Swallow, Linnet, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Goldfinch and Mallard.