Sightings Archives: February 2013

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways Flandria Seaways Felixstowe – Vlaardingen 26 February 2013

Posted 15 March 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright and Helen Turnock, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound 4-5 ENE, return leg 3-4 NE. Cloudy sea state 3-1.

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 7
Unidentified Dolphin sp 2
Medium sized whale (possible Northern Bottlenose Whale Hyperoodon ampullatus) 1

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 21
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 60
Common Gull Larus canus 278
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 142
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 40
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 30
Little Gull Larus minutus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 17
Guillemot Uria aalge 109
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Unidentified Auk sp. 3
Unidentified Goose sp. 30
Unidentified Gull sp. 655

Terrestrial & River Birds
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 18
Coot Fulica atra 1
Gadwall Anas strepera 38
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Greylag Goose Anser anser 13
House crow Corvus splendens 1
Magpie Pica pica 6
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 10
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 8
Mute swan Cygnus olor 6
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Common Pochard Aythya farina 8
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 1
Wigeon Anas Penelope 409
Mixed duck sp. 1341 ( Wigeon, Pochard and Gadwall)

KittiwakeWe arrived at Felixstowe on Monday evening and were escorted to the ship shortly after it docked to settle down for the night. We awoke before dawn, had breakfast and were invited onto the bridge. The North Easterly wind had created a mild swell on the North Sea that subsided as we approached the Dutch coast. Gannet, Guillemot and Kittiwake were in evidence as we started our survey, the Guillemot still in winter plumage but some of the Gannet had already started to develop their breeding finery.  Captain Luffe joined the bridge and advised us that he had seen in the past few weeks a whale surfacing between his ship and another vessel close by.

Six miles from the mouth of the River Maas the sea swell had subsided and we had our first sighting of a cetacean. Two dolphins, one adult and one juvenile briefly appeared on the starboard side of the vessel, frustratingly too quick to identify with any certainty.  Ten minutes later in the distance we had a further sighting, a large light grey-brown animal with a very slow roll and thick based dorsal fin, possibly a Northern Bottlenose Whale.

HarbourPorpoise Felix02/13We then entered the river section of our survey. Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull were evident. Along the river bank, large numbers of Gadwall, Wigeon and Pochard were encountered; many of them appeared to have paired up ready for the breeding season.  We docked at the terminal in Vlaardingen and started to compile our sightings.

Daylight hours would enable us to survey the 30 miles west of the Dutch coast. Two miles from the river mouth we encountered a Harbour Porpoise. Seven animals were seen over the next six miles.

With the light fading, we left the bridge after a very rewarding survey.

Our thanks go to DFDS Seaways and Captain Luffe, his Officers and crew for making this survey possible.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Helen Turnock, Research Surveyors for MARINElife