30th of November 2014 – RSPB Strumpshaw Fen- Norfolk.

Having missed last month’s trip with the local Coventry and Warwickshire RSPB group as it clashed with surveying for MARINElife, I was looking forward to another pleasant day out with the many likeminded people of our confined group in Norfolk. Meeting up in Coventry at 07:00, the coach left in very foggy weather conditions which stayed around until we were almost at our destination.

After reading up on the internet about recent sightings, we made our way straight to the “Fen” hide before exploring other areas of the reserve.

Settling down within the hide (which had carpet fitted to the benches for extra comfort) we looked out towards the pool and reed beds just as the sun began to shine. Within a few minutes, my birding buddy Steve called out “Otter” to which many of us got to see before it disappeared along a hidden channel. A minute later I called “Bittern” as we all caught a brief sight of one flying from our left over and along the same channel as the Otter. “Ping, ping” Bearded Tits were then seen some fifty metres dead ahead and moving between the reeds. Then a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and then viewed at close quarters, also heard were Water Rail too. Then to everyone’s delight we had a total of three Marsh Harrier, two Kestrel, a Peregrine, a Buzzard and while all this was going on a single Black Swan gently made what sounded like impersonations on a Bittern booming right in front of the hide! Then the briefest of glimpses of a Chinese Water Deer, all this happened within just a few minutes and then it all went quiet and everyone began to breathe normally again.

Distant record shot of an Otter
Poor record shot of a Bittern
After some time I decided to check out the “Tower” hide, the walk was through a lot of mud but well worth it as I got my second Bittern sighting of the day along with Snipe, Grey Heron and closer views of Marsh Harrier.

Before returning to the coach I visited the wet Alder and Ash tree woodland area where a small flock of Long Tailed Tit where moving through. Other birds seen today where, Blackbird, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Carrion, Jackdaw, Rook, Blue Tit, Wren, Jay, Magpie, Mallard, Coot, Gadwall and Teal.

The afternoon daylight rapidly faded and we were soon on our way back to the coach, another most enjoyable day organised by Peter and Lesley Berrill.
21st of November 2014 - Corralejo - Fuerteventura.



On a recent holiday to the Canary Islands I decided to take an early walk before sunrise to see what wildlife was about. As I arrived on Coco beach the light began to get better and the views across the sea towards the islands of Lanzarote and Los Lobos where beautiful.

As I walked, I stopped many times to scan the sea for signs of cetaceans, sadly I didn't see any this trip, but I look forward to our next winter holiday here which may perhaps prove more fruitful.

The first places to explore where the many rock pools, here I had sightings of Kentish Plover, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Whimbrel, Yellow Legged Gull, Turnstone, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Collared Dove and Spanish Sparrow.

Heading south in the direction of the huge sand dunes I walked upon thousands of tiny shells that covered the whole area, checking out the bracken I stumbled across a stunning Great Grey Shrike aloft a branch which sadly departed before I raised my camera for a record shot. After some considerable time chasing the bird (for my record shot) I gave up and carried on walking.





Berthelot Pipit

Ahead was one of the many extinct volcanos that make up the lunar landscape of Fuerteventura. I soon started my way back to the hotel complex for breakfast and came upon Berthelot Pipits feeding in the desert like habitat. With their mouse like movements amongst the lava rocks they were not concerned with me being in close distance, which gave an opportunity to get a least one species of bird photographed!






A very pleasant morning walk which gave me a great appetite for a very big breakfast.
28th of September 2014 - RSPB Minsmere trip.

A new season for the Coventry and Warwickshire local RSPB Group started this month with a trip to the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve. Situated on the Suffolk coast, this was quoted by Chris Packham as one of the best nature reserves in the world during this years BBC Spring Watch!

Our coach journey started at 7:00am, once there, we were welcomed by two local volunteers who were on hand and ready to provide everyone with entrance discs and data sheets with all the recent sightings. The weather was very mild for the time of year and as the day went on it got warmer, eventually turning in to a very hot, but hazy afternoon.

Bearded Tit Record
Starting off with my two birding buddies Steve & Gary we took to the Coast trail in search of migrants, followed by some sea watching. "Ping" first up were a flock of 10 Bearded Tit giving us good views of these stunning birds. A Cetti's warbler soon had the bins on a single bird within 30 metres, good to view one as you often hear them, but don't manage to see them! The sea watch was somewhat disappointing as the only notable birds being a single Common Scoter and a small flock of Brent Geese, followed by a Wheatear in the dunes whilst I was adjusting my scope.

Walking along the shingle we stopped at the East hide, a superb double decker hide with good views across the scrapes. Here we had a panoramic view over a vast array of birds, the notable ones being Purple Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Avocet, Snipe, Black Tailed Godwit, Little Egret and a large flock of Barnacle Geese. Our second close views of Bearded Tit occurred here too as about 8 dropped in briefly in to the surrounding reeds. One landed on a reed and was promptly dunked in the water as the reed gave way, this we found amusing and appealed to our schoolboy humour. Leaving the lads to carry on scanning the scrapes I indulged myself in moving to the other side of the reserve to explore the woodland which gave up the usual common bird species. I finally reached the Bittern hide, here I settled down to enjoy the last 35 minutes before returning to our coach for our journey back.

Purple Sandpiper

Snipe
Black Tailed Godwit
Barnacle Geese
The hide was very elevated giving good views across the surrounding grassland and reed beds. Butterflies were aplenty with small white the obvious common sighting due to their hue. From here I saw, Waterail, Kingfisher, Hobby, Kestrel, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Marsh harrier. As I made my way back to the visitors centre, I heard Tree Creeper and deep within the trees I spotted a young Red Deer along with Grey Squirrel.

Red Deer through the trees
Birds seen today in no particular order are as follows, Bearded Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Wren, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Cetti's Warbler, Robin, Pheasant, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Lesser Black backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Widgeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Tifted Duck, Common Scoter, Teal, Common Sandpiper, Avocet, Lapwing, Puple Sandpiper, Snipe, Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Skylark, Little Egret, Starling, Linnett, Mallard, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Waterail, Moorhen, Coot, Dunnock, Jay, Magpie, Rook and Reed Bunting.

This is only my sightings list and not the complete list of birds seen by others within the group.

A great start for the local Coventry and Warwickshire RSPB Group and full marks as usual must go to Lesley and Peter Berrill for organising the first of what will be many trips for me this season.

 
 
MS Oldenburg along side the Lundy Jetty
Saturday the 30th of August 2014.
  
MARINElife Wildlife Officer - Lundy Island day trip.
  
Arriving in Bideford at 08:15am my first port of call was the Landmark office to collect my ticket for boarding MS Oldenburg. The ship was full with 256 passengers and 8 crew, upon making my way up to the bridge; I readied myself for the sailing while chatting to Jerry the ship's Captain. I the processed to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers as quickly as I could as information from the bridge proposed that the weather out on the open sea was force 5!
 
Whilst Oldenburg navigated the estuary towards the open sea, I had the opportunity to point out notable birds such as Oystercatcher, Redshank, Little Egret, Curlew, Grey Heron and Black tailed Godwit. Once out of the estuary the sea livened up and we were soon enjoying (or not enjoying) the sea breeze and spray and the ships motion that goes with force 5 weather conditions. This resulted in a great many of the passengers feeling rather sick. A very brief sighting of a Harbour Porpoise off the port side was sadly the only cetacean seen. Birds of note were a few Manx Shearwater gliding effortlessly over the water and a group of diving Gannet were seen as the ship passed Hartland Point.
 

Shag off the jetty
Upon disembarking the Oldenburg many of the day trippers stopped on the jetty to watch an inquisitive large Grey Seal showing off. I briefly stopped to say hello to Derek the Island's manager and also to Chloe the assistant warden to find out about recent bird sightings. Following this I began to make my way to the higher levels. My planned route kept me on the east side where I settled myself in to what I call a shepherds shelter to have lunch and to begin a sea watch. More Grey seal were spotted further up at the northern rocks and also 2 below near the beach area. Scanning the sea produced many Gannet and Shag along with the usual Gull species. Unfortuntatley no cetaceans were seen! After a two hour watch I went over to the west side passing Saint Helen's church and did the same for anther two hours with the same species recorded.
 
 
                     

 The return journey aboard the Oldenburg gave a distant view of 21 Grey Seal that were basking on Mouse Rock.
 
Grey Seals
 The crossing back to Bideford was a much calmer affair which gave another brief sighting of a Harbour Porpoise; again the same sea birds were seen along the way.
 
As we arrived back in Bideford there was a huge crowd gathered on the quay, not to welcome us back, but to wave goodbye to the "Kathleen and May" an old three masted sailing ship that has been used in filming a new Johnny Depp film! She left on the high tide bound for her home port of Liverpool shortly after we disembarked Oldenburg. It must have been an awesome sight back in the days of sail as Bideford was a busy port and many tail ships would have graced this estuary.
 
The Kathleen and May
 Species seen this trip were, Harbour Porpoise, Grey seal, Manx Shearwater, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Fulmar, Cormarant, Shag, Gannet, Tree Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Starling, Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swallow, Linnet, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Whitethroat, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Mallard, Pied Wagtail, redshank, Grey Heron, Curlew and Black Tailed Godwit.


 


MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 26 July 2014.
Helping passengers look for cetaceans

http://www.marine-life.org.uk/ilfracombe-or-bideford-lundy/2014/07/26
 

Tuesday the 24th of May 2014.

Felixstowe to Vlaardingen MARINElife Survey.

Here is a link to the survey report compiled by fellow surveyor Emma.


The Bridge giving fantastic views of the sea

The long river entrance to the port of Vlaardingen
 
Saturday the 21st of June 2014.                                                     
 
Today’s Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began this time in Ilfracombe, where I met up with Ali and Maggie from MARINElife who were conducting this months, monthly Lundy survey. After chatting before boarding we agreed to meet up to explore the Island after all of the outward survey and Wildlife Officer Duties were completed.

Once on-board the MS Oldenburg I made my way up on to the bridge to meet Jerry the ship’s captain and after collecting the essential items for the trip (MARINElife information leaflets, binoculars and my camera) I proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many passengers I could. This interaction really is a great way to learn from people with local knowledge and to also meet passengers that have never been to Lundy before and to offer I.D. assistance and suggestions (when asked) of places to go while on the Island.

The weather was hot and the sea state was calm with minimum wind waves.

The outward passage gave me an opportunity to point out two Harbour Porpoise off the port side. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Guillemot rafting upon the water, a few Gannet and the occasional passing gull and Fulmar. An observation from my last trip that left two hours earlier and from Bideford, was that there were fewer birds in flight and many were rafting which maybe suggests that they were feeding earlier and by this time it was time to rest?

As the Oldenburg approached Lundy we all had sight of Common Dolphins on each side of the ship which to everyone’s delight had the passengers standing up to help each other locate these graceful animals. As the ship slowly approached the jetty a single Grey Seal popped up on the starboard side as if to greet the passengers, many then took time for a photograph or two.


Common Dolphin - Adult & Juvenile
As we docked everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels to explore the Island. Upon meeting Ali from the survey team we took a route towards halfway wall and had our packed lunch overlooking Jenny’s cove. Here we met assistant warden Chloe who was helping many of the visitors with locating the many Puffins. During lunch we also caught up with Maggie from the survey team who quickly had us scanning the sea due to splashing and diving sea birds about a mile and a half off the Island. The opinion was that we looking at, at least 12 Bottlenose Dolphins due to their colouring and movements.

As we walked back we spotted many birds along the way and our conversation was of course about our wildlife experiences.

The crossing back from Lundy provided further Common Dolphin sightings and a single Harbour Porpoise, which one of the passengers kindly pointed out, sea bird sightings were very much the same as the outward crossing. From chatting to Ali once back in Ilfracombe harbour the survey produced a lot more Dolphin numbers than I managed on the decks.

Devon Birding Weekend 30th of May – 1st of June 2014.

Species seen 83.

Steve & Gary looking
for Stonechats

Last weekend I went with two of my birding friends Gary and Steve (both Brandon Marsh regulars) to North Devon to explore and enjoy the birds and wildlife of the West Country.

Friday.
Early Friday night we arrived at our hotel in Ilfracombe, we quickly dropped off some of our gear then we headed off to Braunton village. Taking the single track road that runs to the sand dunes we used the small private toll road to make our way to Crow Point. The weather was still sunny and as such later produced a superb sunset over Braunton Burrows.

Using my local knowledge of the area soon had us catching sight of a juvenile Common Crane that has been in the area for over a week know. Seen also were, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Canada Goose (with chicks) Moorhen, Gadwall, Mallard, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Buzzard, Curlew, whimbrel, Black-Tailed Godwit, Black headed gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Swift, Rook, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Whitethroat, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Linnet, Mute Swan (with chicks) and House Sparrow. This was a good start to our birding weekend, which was then finished with fish and chips.

Saturday.

Looking for Cetaceans
Today’s birding destination was Lundy Island. Gary and Steve have heard many of my stories of the visits to the Island and therefore were looking forward to seeing it for themselves. Arriving in Bideford at 07.15am it already felt warm and I was optimistic for a fabulous day of weather and the day didn’t disappoint as the sun shone all day with the temperature in the 70’s. After we boarded the MS Oldenburg I left them to enjoy the crossing, as today I was MARINElife’s Lundy Wildlife Officer on board to assist the passengers with cetacean and bird sightings. I made my way up on to the bridge to meet Jerry the ship’s captain and after collecting the essential items for the trip (MARINElife leaflets, binoculars and my camera) I proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. Many of them were very interested in MARINElife and the work that the charity does.

The outward passage gave me an opportunity to point out three Harbour Porpoise off the starboard side, quickly followed by four common Dolphin off the port side; these were followed later by a pod of a further twelve Dolphin. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater gliding effortlessly over the water, a diving Gannet and many Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual gulls were seen along with Kittiwake and Fulmar.
Common Dolphin in the distance
As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay I had sight of a distant black and white bird resting on the rocks, the binoculars soon confirmed it was a Black Guillemot and a great start to the island’s bird list. Soon everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels. With the MARINElife duties complete until the return journey I caught up with my two friends on the jetty. Our planned route was to take in the southern coastal footpaths along and past the old battery and then on towards halfway wall and lunch overlooking Jenny’s cove. Here I met assistant warden Chloe who was helping many of the visitors with locating the Puffins. After lunch; we made my way back to the jetty in time for a round the island trip aboard the Oldenburg.


Puffin & Razorbill © Steve Nikols 
Birds of note were Woodchat Shrike, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Raven, Black Guillemot, Puffin and a possible yet to be confirmed sighting of a Short Toed Lark in amongst the Skylarks?



Woodchat Shrike © Steve Nikols 

Wheatear © Steve Nikols 
Whilst walking back the island’s Sika Deer were running around in many directions. Other animals observed were the usual sheep, also seen were Lundy ponies and wild goats.
Razorbill & Guillemot
The around the island tour was made even more interesting as we had a commentary by local guide Simon. Many of the ledges were covered in Guillemot, Razorbill and a few Puffin, the rocks had Kittiwake and Shag and all the usual gulls were observed. Grey Seals were sighted both in the water and on the rocks, as we approached Jenny’s Cove the whole area had a good number of Guillemot and Razorbill rafting and to everyone’s delight I soon had some of the passengers along with some of the ships company on to Lundy’s famous Puffins. These small birds are always a pleasure to see either on the water or on land. Sadly all my photos were either too far away or blurred!




Grey Seal
 

The crossing back to Bideford was calm again with the same birds being seen along the way.

Upon leaving the ship we made our way to Woolacombe for some dinner and a few alcoholic beverages.
Sunday.

An early hearty cooked breakfast is always a great way to start any days birding, we left the hotel and made our way to Woolacombe bay in search of Stonechat. These are seen every time I visit the area and normally present good opportunities for close up photographs. Sadly there were none to be seen (Probably nesting) and we left after seeing just a handful of common birds!

Moving on through Barnstaple to the small village of Yelland we spent three hours exploring the RSPB Isley Marsh area. This has different types of habitat, marshland, meadow, trees and bushes and the estuary which always ensures a good mix of birds. We proceeded to make our way around this diverse area that offers on one, side the usual meadow and woodland birds and on the other waders and sea birds. The morning provided a few good year ticks for my friends before we set off to Exeter in the south of Devon.

Birds seen at Isley Marsh were, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Curlew, Sanderling, Dunlin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven, Skylark, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Wren, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Buzzard.


Skylark at Yelland
After an hour of travelling we arrived at Topsham to begin the walk down to the RSPB’s Bowling Green Marsh reserve. The place was very busy with birders and twitchers looking for a reported Ross’s Gull, upon arriving in the hide we chatted with a few people and found out that it was around however over by the Exeter station. A quick drive to the station provided our trio with life ticks! Imagine this, a row of birders all looking through scopes at the Ross’s Gull from the stations platform, then slowly a train approached and stopped at the platform blocking the view, we all thought it was highly amusing. The train soon left and we were able to view the distant bird again for some time.

In the early evening we left Devon for our return journey back to Rugby, the in-car conversation was about, nothing other than birds and birding. Steve had his lists and created a full list for everyone so we can all look back on a truly great weekend which included a quite a few years’ ticks and one life tick for us all.

May Holiday in North Devon 2014.

Arriving in Coombe Martin very late on Friday night due to the many accidents on the M5, we quickly had our caravan set up, beer open and commenced the art of chilling, which is what our trips to Devon are all about. Saturday was rather busy with caravan maintenance chores taking up most of the day in one format or another. Following a shopping trip for essential supplies, which included beer and Bacardi, we headed for Woolacoombe bay and some fish and chips. Whilst here we did some sea watching over the bay with sightings of three Harbour Porpoise about a quarter of a mile out from shore along with a few Gannet, Oystercatcher, Stonechat and the usual gulls. Upon arriving back at the camp site I put up a couple of bird feeders which quickly attracted House Sparrow and Blue Tit whilst doing so my attention was soon drawn to the many Swallows and house Martins that were constantly passing overhead as were herring gull and a Buzzard. A pair of Pied Wagtails were seen too, however they’ve not been seen since!

On Sunday my fiancée and I were up bright and early for my third trip this year to Lundy Island, this time in the company of fellow Devon Birdwatching Preservation Society members on their annual birding trip.  Arriving in Bideford at 07.30am it already felt warm and we were optimistic for a fabulous day of weather and the day didn’t disappoint, as the sun shone all day with the temperature in the 70’s. After boarding the MS Oldenburg the ship left the quay at 08.30am and we started our journey up the Taw estuary, past the sand banks and the reef and out and on towards Lundy in a very calm sea state which was excellent conditions for looking out for cetaceans. The outward passage didn’t give us any sightings of cetaceans, however we soon had Manx Shearwater gliding effortlessly over the water, diving Gannet and many Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual gulls were seen along with Kittiwake and Fulmar. As we approached Lundy I chatted briefly to Jerry the Oldenburg captain as he opened the bridge door and was chuffed to hear that the ship would be doing a circuit of the island and as we were on the starboard side we would have the perfect position to view the island cliffs, caves, coves and of course the wildlife.




 
The many ledges were covered in Guillemot and Razorbill, the rocks had Kittiwake and Shag and all the usual gulls were observed. Grey Seals were sighted both in the water and on the rocks, as we approached Jenny’s Cove the whole area had a good number of Guillemot and Razorbill rafting and to everyone’s delight I soon had some of the passengers along with some of the ships company on to Lundy’s famous Puffins. These small birds are always a pleasure to see either on the water or on land. Sadly all my photos were either taken from too far away or blurred! 
As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay I had sight of a distant black and white bird resting on the sea, the binoculars soon had me ticking off a Black Guillemot and a great start to the island’s bird list. Soon everyone disembarked and we began the long road trek up to the higher levels. Our planned route was to take in the southern coastal footpaths along and past the old battery and then on towards halfway wall and lunch overlooking Jenny’s cove.
The first birds seen were the numerous Swallows, House Sparrows, Meadow Pipits and Wheatear. Other seen were Blackbird, Wren, Linnet, Pied wagtail, Rock Pipit, Starling, Rock Dove, Goldfinch, Mallard, Robin, Chiffchaff and Jackdaw.

Upon arriving at Jenny’s Cove we scanned the birds on the rock ledges as far as Needle rock. Kittiwakes, Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin were all identified from a reasonable distance. We found out later in the day that a Short Toed Lark was spotted near the half way wall, what a good bird for the few who managed to see it. Walking back the island’s Sika Deer were running around in many directions. Other animals observed were the usual sheep, some were obviously posing for “Aaaar” photo’s, also seen were Lundy ponies, wild goats and a single rabbit which is in fact the first rabbit I’ve ever seen on Lundy.
Jenny's Cove

 
 
After stopping at the Marisco Tavern we started our decent towards the landing bay which can take a while especially when you are in the company of fellow birders who all stop, start, stop, start as and when birds appear. Reports of a Golden Oriole had the decent put on hold as the area was scanned by over twenty people looking for it, at this time a Peregrine was spotted chasing a bird very high up and nobody could identify the bird being perused. Skylark was the species that was suggested, however last year a visiting Golden Oriole on the island was taken by one of the Peregrines, I hope we don't read the same outcome on the Lundy Birds sightings blog.

The crossing back to Bideford was calm again with the same birds being seen along the way, this time we sighted four harbour Porpoise from the port side and 5 Common Dolphin ahead of the bow. Returning to Bideford Quay gave us Curlew, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher and Godwits on the sand bank.

A really great day shared with members of the Devon Birdwatchers Preservation Society both on the sea and on Lundy in beautiful weather.

I’m already looking forward to visiting Lundy again at the end of this month, this time it will be as the MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer aboard MS Oldenburg helping passengers with identifying cetaceans and birds.

19th of April 2014.
Lundy Island.

Species seen 40.
My second trip this week to Lundy Island was assisting in a survey for MARINElife aboard the MS Oldenburg. Meeting up at Bideford quay with Rick and Simon fellow volunteers we made our way to the ships bridge to start the survey. Rick was Lundy Wildlife Officer for this trip assisting passengers with identifying what was seen from the decks. The survey was to record cetaceans, sea and terrestrial birds. The weather was sunny with clear skies although the wind was bracing. With a sea state of “one” the outward journey was perfect for watching for cetaceans.

Leaving the quay the ship made its way out of the Taw estuary, birds seen were Common Gull, Herring Gull, Black headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Curlew, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Swallow and a single Goldfinch.
Once clear of the estuary we were soon observing many sea birds either in flight or resting. Manx Shearwater, Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannett, Great Black backed Gull, Lesser Black backed Gull, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Shag were all recorded in the survey. About an hour out of port we caught sight of our first Harbour Porpoise off the starboard bow.

Upon reaching Lundy and disembarking we stopped off to chat with Becky the Island Warden for a short time then we were off up towards Castle Hill to explore the West Sideland cliff areas and on to Jenny’s Cove.  As we walked along the MS Oldenburg was seen from the cliff tops as it made its way around the island before returning the jetty.
 
Island birds seen were Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Swallow, House Martin, Magpie, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Skylark, Blackbird, Linnet, Rock Pipit, Starling, Rock Dove, Goldfinch and Jackdaw.
Arriving at Jenny’s Cove we settled down for lunch and spent an hour scanning the birds on the rock ledges. Kittiwakes, Lesser Black backed Gull, Great Black backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Shag and Herring Gulls were all observed. Here we also had sight of three Grey Seals off shore and the third Harbour Porpoise of the day. There were a number of other people here all scanning the area for the famous Lundy Puffins, sadly though this visit did not produce any, I hope that the recent severe weather and storms have not reduced their numbers.

As we made our way to the Marisco tavern for tea and cake before returning to the jetty, Sika Deer, Lundy ponies, Highland cattle and wild goats were all observed. Stopping on route at Pondsbury pool produced Mallard and Herring Gull bathing.

Returning to MS Oldenburg we carried on with the MARINElife survey all the way back to estuary at Bideford. One last Harbour Porpoise was seen on route and upon entering the estuary we sighted Shelduck, Whimbrel, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, House Martin and my first Common Tern for the year, plus the same Gulls as before.
A very interesting day spent with two fellow MARINElife volunteers and I look forward to my next trip in May as the MS Oldenburg’s - Lundy Wildlife Officer.


 

15th of April 2014.
Lundy Island.

Species seen 30.
My first trip this year to Lundy Island was made even more special as my fiancée came along this time and we both enjoyed a  fabulous day that felt like a summers day as the sun shone all day with the temperature in the 70’s. The passage this time from Ilfracombe aboard the MS Oldenburg was calm and breezy, perfect weather to be out at sea.

The sailing normally takes two hours; however as the sea state was calm the journey only took an hour and a half. We managed to get my favourite seat on the ships starboard side which gives an ideal position for sea watching. Birds seen on route were Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Lesser Black backed Gull, Gannett, Swallow, Razorbill, Guillemot, Shag, Cormorant, plus many too far away to identify. The Manx Shearwaters were gliding with great skill just above the water and were seen to disappear and reappear as they dropped in and out of the wave troughs.



Attempt at a shot of a Manx Shearwater
The Irish Navy we also doing sea testing aboard their brand new fisheries ship the “Samuel Beckett” this very fast ship came out from Appledore at great speed and it was very soon past the Oldenburg and on out into the Atlantic.


Upon reaching Lundy everyone disembarked from the MS Oldenburg we began the steep long road trek up to the higher levels where everyone went their separate ways. My planned route was to take in the southern coastal footpaths along and past the old lighthouse and then on towards halfway wall.


The first birds seen were the numerous Swallows, House Sparrows, Meadow Pipits and Wheatear. Other seen were Blackbird, Wren, Linnet, Pied wagtail, Rock Pipit, Starling, Rock Dove, Goldfinch, Mallard Duck, Robin, Chiffchaff and Jackdaw.
Upon arriving at Jenny’s Cove we scanned the birds on the rock ledges. Kittiwakes, Oystercatcher and Herring Gulls were all that we managed to identify from a reasonably long distance. Here we also caught sight of a single Grey Seal, however it was very distant.

Walking back a few Carrion Crow made an appearance over towards the east side as did a small group of Sika Deer. Other animals observed were the usual sheep, however this time of year many had young lambs, also seen were Lundy ponies and wild goats.


Butterflies of note were Small White and Small Tortoiseshell.
A really great day shared on the sea and Lundy watching Birds and wildlife in superb weather. I look forward to visiting Lundy again on Easter Saturday, this time as a volunteer with a survey team from MARINElife.