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 fiancĂ©e 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.