MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Flandria Seaways’ Felixstowe to Vlaardingen survey 30th April 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright and Emma Howe-Andrews, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward - partial cloud, good visibility: northerly wind force 4.  Return - brighter, good visibility with glare at times: north-easterly wind force 4-6.

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 10

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 52
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 170
Parasitic (arctic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 58
Common Gull Larus canus 96
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 573
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 930
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 309
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 74
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 141
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 1
Black Tern Chlidonias niger 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Unidentified Loon sp. 3
Unidentified Medium Gull sp.1
Unidentified Tern sp. 7
Mixed Larus sp 92

River Birds
Common Coot Fulica atra 10
Gadwall Anas strepera 94
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 4
Greylag Goose Anser anser 1
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 8
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 195
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3

Terrestrial Birds
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 30
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
House Martin Delichon urbicum 1
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 22
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

Gannet CF-WWe arrived at Felixstowe port on Monday evening and joined the ship shortly after it docked. We were shown to our cabins and retired to bed to get some sleep before the survey started at dawn the next day.

We awoke to clear skies and calm seas having just crossed into Dutch waters. Kittiwake, Gannet and the occasional tern species were encountered in the first few hours of the survey. As we approached the Dutch coast, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull became more prevalent and we were fortunate to catch sight of an adult Artic Skua. Two Harbour Porpoise were seen at this time, the first animal only 70 metres away from the ship.


VlaardingenTo reach Vlaardingen the vessel has to negotiate the Nieuwe Waterweg. This is the ship canal that connects Rotterdam to the North Sea. The south side of the canal has an artificial spit that is used by birds as a safe nesting ground. Early pairings of Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls are now starting to claim nesting sites. This bank may, by the height of the breeding season, have up to 1000 birds raising their young there.

On arriving at Vlaardingen we noticed that many of the windmills had been decorated with flags to mark the occasion of King Willem-Alexander being crowned.


Great Black Backed CF-WOnce the ship had been loaded we retraced our route along the canal and returned to the North Sea. The wind had strengthened and the conditions were less conducive to cetacean sightings. Imagine our delight and surprise, considering the sea state, when less than 10 miles into the North Sea and within a space of an hour we encountered seven Harbour Porpoise, one sighting included a juvenile that was clearly seen as it swam with its mother past the starboard side of the vessel.

After this encounter cetacean and bird sightings tailed off. As the sun started to set over the North Sea we concluded our survey having thanked Captain Henri, his officers and crew for their hospitality. Our thanks are also extended to DFDS Seaways for making these surveys possible.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Emma Howe-Andrews, Research Surveyors for MARINElife