Saturday the 30th & Sunday the 31st of July 2016 - North Devon

This month’s Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island also began in Ilfracombe, the sun was shining and the crew of MS Oldenburg were soon welcoming the many passengers on board. With me this trip was Ruby, my fiancĂ©e who like me, was looking forward to another excellent trip. Before boarding a young lady, Emma and her husband who have recently attended a MARINELife training day run by MARINELife’s, introduced herself and we chatted in the queue for the ship. Emma is planning to volunteer to do some surveys at some point this year. We also discussed the role of wildlife Officer and I explained what was involved.

After a brief chat on the bridge with Jason the ship’s captain and Vernon the first mate, I began my tour around the upper and aft deck introducing myself to as many interested passengers that I could. Within 10 minutes of leaving Ilfracombe a single Harbour Porpoise made a few passengers run to the port side to catch a glimpse of this small cetacean.

The first birds of note were Gannet, followed by Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. All three species were seen within a mile of the harbour. We soon had sightings of Kittiwake, Herring Gull; Lesser Black backed Gull and a single Great Black Backed Gull.

As the MS Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing bay the first of six Grey Seals was seen. Our afternoon was spent in the wooded area around Milcombe house looking for birds of note, here a Spotted Flycatcher showed itself. Stopping for lunch on the eastern side of the Island, we conducted an hour of sea watching. 

  Looking down to the sea there were many Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannet and the usual Gulls. Numerous Goldfinches were seen, which are now a true success story as they are breeding well throughout the UK. In the surrounding area the gorgeous sound of Skylark was heard and I watched many fly very high continuing their song. Linnet, Meadow Pipit and both adult and juvenile Wheatear were plentiful too.

Juvenile Wheatear
 During our decent towards the landing bay we stopped off to watch a very large shoal of Mullet that were very close to the rocks to the left of the beach. As we expected, a playful Grey Seal soon appeared to start moving through them, it didn’t take any of the fish, which suggests it was already full from an earlier

During the return sailing two separate pods of Common Dolphin thrilled everyone on board. Firstly a pod of 12 individuals, then within 10 minutes 3 more were breaching within 500 metres of the ship.
Distant Common Dolphin

 For me, volunteering as a MARINELife Wildlife Officer is always a great privilege as we get to meet some wonderful likeminded people interested in Cetaceans and Birds, however, when you point out Porpoise or Dolphin to passengers that have never seen a cetacean before, it is always a thrill for both them and me!

We arrived in Ilfracombe harbour where the day’s trip concluded, I thanked Jason the captain and his crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next Lundy Wildlife Officer trip in August.

Birds seen on our trip included, Manx Shearwater, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lesser and Great Black Backed Gull,, Gannett, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Gannet, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Starling, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Swallow, Linnet, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Goldfinchtail, Cormorant, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Wagtail and Cormorant.

Sunday was spent picnicing at Northam Burrows in Appledore a superb open area for watching birds as the tide turns, as it does it brings in many species of feeding birds. Here the birds of note were, Black Tailed Godwit, Littel Egret, Dunlin, Ruff, Oystercatcher, Curlew,Ring Plover, Turnstone, Peregrine, Stonechat, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Starling, Goldfinch and Linnet.