With a moderate to strong NW wind the previous day, and with the winds reducing overnight to a light to moderate northerly, things looked well set for an exciting pelagic seabirds trip on Sunday 25 August. The keen crew assembled at the Fish Quay, ready to board Richard Keen’s boat the Margaret K. We usually head out c 10 miles NW of Guernsey...but it soon became apparent that the sea was livelier than forecast with a dirty confused swell. This made viewing difficult and at times unpleasant. We therefore kept within 5 miles of the coast, and from 0800 to 1400 we completed an anti-clockwise circuit around Guernsey . Several times we stopped to put chum in the water to attract seabirds.
The highlights of the trip included a three metre Basking Shark (right alongside the boat), lots of Balearic (30+) and Manx Shearwaters (20+) and the discovery of a line of rich feeding several miles long parallel to the Island’s west coast, where there was continual activity from diving Northern Gannets. A line of floating weed indicated the rich zone. Presumably this was where two tidal currents met, causing up-wellings of rich nutrients and good feeding conditions for fish and in turn seabirds?
An estimation of the seabirds encountered was as follows:-
500+ Northern Gannets, 20+ European Storm-petrels, 30 Balearic Shearwaters, 20 Manx Shearwaters, 10 Northern Fulmars, 1 Great Skua, 1 (probable) Pomarine Skua, 3 Arctic Skuas, 50 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 30 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Black Tern, 2 Sandwich Terns and 10 Common Terns.
It wasn’t one of the best pelagic we’ve ever done, but once again it proved to be an interesting day on the sea.