Friday, 6 August 2010

July 2010

Unprecedented numbers of Balearic Shearwaters in the English Channel

In recent days extraordinary numbers of Balearic Shearwater have been seen in the English Channel, with a gathering of approximately 5,000 birds on the French side inshore and west of St Malo.

Marinelife has been carrying out offshore surveys for Balearics and other seabirds and cetaceans in the western Channel since 1995 and intensively since 2006. In 2009, 236 surveys were completed on a range of vessels including ferries, charter, dive, angling and fishing boats adding up to nearly 60,000km of survey effort. Although it was considered a below-average year by local skippers for marine wildlife due to bad weather, sightings included 77,510 birds of 86 species plus 550 cetacean sightings of 10 species.

We will be sampling core French areas for Balearics this summer, and have a full programme of surveys on a range of vessel types all across the Channel.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer surveyor on one of these trips, please get in touch.

For submitting land-based and other casual observations please contact Russell Wynn at

For seabird and cetacean watching trips in Lyme Bay with the Marinelife team contact Gwen Owen at Naturetrek

This relates to 30th July 2010 when 4630 shearwaters were seen.
Video and count by Laurent Thebault

31ST JULY 2010
Marinelife/Naturetrek Lyme Bay Pelagic
Good visibility with sunny intervals. Warm, 20c. NW coming South Westerly F4 touching 5 at times dropping to F3 inshore.  4 Balearic Shearwater, 20 Manx Shearwater, 1 European Storm-petrel, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Common Tern and 3 Common Scoter. Plus 1 breaching Bottlenose DolphinOpportunistic Survey carried out onboard Huntress II of West Bay.

Devon, Start Bay, ½ nm NE of Start Point
50 – 60 Bottlenose Dolphin playing in the wake of the boat Samuel Irvin III just off Start Point. Sighting reported by Ian Noble, skipper of Samuel Irvin III, Dartmouth.

West Bay
2 European Storm-petrel a mile off West Bay

30TH JULY 2010
Cornwall, ½ mile East of Coverack
1 Balearic Shearwater seen during an angling trip by Dan Gardner, skipper of Blue Pointer, Helford.

Dorset, ~14nm SE of Portland Bill
1 Balearic Shearwater seen during an offshore angling trip.  Sighting reported by Chris Caines, skipper of Tiger Lily, Weymouth

Cornwall, approx. 11miles South of St. Anthony's Lighthouse
2 Shearwater species, 12-14 Petrel species (probable European Storm-petrel) stayed for the full 4 hour drift, 1 Skua species seen chasing seabirds and 1 probable Long-tailed Skua seen during a sharking drift. A Stonebass (Wreck fish) also stayed under the boat for at least 2 hours.  Sightings reported by Ken Dodgson, skipper of Leo1, Falmouth.

29TH JULY 2010
Cornwall, near River Helford
Approx. 12 Common Dolphin encountered 2 miles out from the mouth of the River Helford.  Sighting and image provided by Caroline Harvey of Orca Sea Safaris, Falmouth.

Common Dolphins

Cornwall, 12 miles South of Penzance Harbour
1 Fin Whale seen for 10 minutes near the boat.  Sighting reported by Chippy, skipper of Bite Adventures Charter, Penzance.

Channel Islands
1 Balearic Shearwater seen ~3 miles South of Alderney. Sighting reported by Chris Caines, skipper of Tiger Lily

26TH JULY 2010
Devon, Mouth of River Dart
Approx. 30 Common Dolphin seen on the way in to Dartmouth Marina. Sighting reported by Ian Noble, skipper of Samuel Irvin III, Dartmouth

25TH JULY 2010
Devon, off Plymouth
14 European Storm Petrel, ~12 Manx Shearwater, Great Skua and Arctic Skua were recorded by David Curtis during an Opportunistic Survey onboard C-Cheeta of Plymouth.

West Bay
5 Arctic Tern

Devon, off Exmouth
10-20 playful Bottlenose Dolphin seen off Exmouth during an angling trip. One dolphin was even seen doing the backstroke! Sighting and photographs provided by Holly Burrows, angler with Tiger Charters, Exmouth.

Bottlenose Dolphins off Exmouth - 25/07/2010