Sightings Archives: May 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Flandria Seaways’ Felixstowe to Vlaardingen survey 29-29th May 2013

Posted 31 May 2013

Graham Ekins and Elaine Cursons, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Eastbound: Force 3-4 E/SE; Westbound: E/NE

Cetaceans/ Seals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena  14
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus   1

Common Scoter   Melanitta nigra  119
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus    1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 52
"Blue" Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis  1   
Gannet Morus bassanus   46 
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo    910 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus   136 
Common Gull Larus canus   45 
Herring Gull Larus argentatus     798
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus  2874  
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus   4
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla     98
Arctic Tern  Sterna paradisaea   5 
Common Tern  Sterna hirundo   544
Sandwich Tern   Sterna sandvicensis   49
Gullemot   Uria aalge   1
Puffin  Fratercula arctica  1

River Birds
Whiskered Tern  Childonias hybrida   2
Spoonbill  Platalea leucorodia   4
Great Crested Grebe  Podiceps cristatus  37
Mute Swan   Cygnus olor      784
Greylag Goose     Anser anser  6
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca   4
Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos  31
Gadwall   Anas strepera   10
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus   2
Carrion Crow  Corvus corone    1
Jackdaw  Corvus monedula     7
Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto  6
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur  1 
Woodpigeon   Columba polumbus  3
Swallow  Hirundo rustica  1

Migrant birds on/around ship
Sanderling  Calidris alba   7
Swallow   Hirundo rustica  3
House Martin  Delichon urbica  1
Linnet  Carduelis cannabina    1

CT 1On arrival at the Dooley Terminal, Felixstowe, the DFDS Administration Manager efficiently organised our tickets and transport to the recently re-painted and very smart Flandria Seaways.  On board we were able to organise access to the bridge for the following morning and then retired to bed in our well-appointed cabins.  The following morning the sun rose over an almost cloudless sky.  The force 3/4 easterly made finding Cetaceans challenging and we only managed to see 1 Harbour Porpoise by the time the Dutch coast came into view.  By contrast birds were very much in evidence with a highlight being a flock of 7 summer plumaged Sanderling that flew across the bow heading north to their Arctic breeding grounds in Greenland or eastern Canada.  We also had a Puffin and a steady stream of Fulmars, Gannets and a few Kittiwakes.  3 kms off the Dutch coast we came across a Storm Petrel feeding in the rough water over a sand bank.  Spring birds are scarce in Dutch waters.

Captain Henri Luffe was very interested in our seabird and cetacean sightings and told us off his own wildlife experiences while sailing off The Azores.

As we sailed up the huge Nieuwe Waterweg (Rotterdam Canal) we passed hundreds of Cormorants either roosting on the 2km long breakwater or fishing close by.  On the south side of the canal we passed many hundreds of nests of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  It appeared that the majority were still incubating their eggs. On the river were many fishing Common Terns with one group of 80 noted where 2 canals joined.  On the North side close to a series of small lakes we were delighted to see 2 summer plumaged Whiskered Terns and feeding close by in a muddy bay 4 Spoonbills.

Nieuwe WaterwegAfter a superb meal we processed the data collected from the east-bound crossing.  By 2.30 we were back on the bridge for the west bound leg of the survey.  As we passed down the canal we saw many immature Mute Swans and 37, a surprisingly high number, of summer plumaged Great-crested Grebes.  Just offshore a flock of 105 Common Scoter were noted heading north at a rapid speed, the second flock of the survey.  We also saw many Sandwich Terns and 3 Arctic Terns fishing in the rough water a few kms offshore.  As we travelled west the cloud cover increased and mid North Sea we had intermittent light rain.  This coincided with 3 Barn Swallows overtaking the ship heading rapidly SW followed by a Linnet.  A little earlier we had a House Martin pass the boat heading east.

The conditions for Cetacean watching were superb and 13 Harbour Porpoises were logged including a group of 4 busy fishing, accompanied by several Kittiwakes and 2 Fulmars, one of which was a superb blue morph.  With the lowering cloud and decrease in visibility we finished the survey at 9.00pm having had a very enjoyable time.   Before we left the bridge we thanked Captain Henri Luffe for the hospitality shown by him and all of his crew during our stay on board his ship.

Graham Ekins and Elaine Cursons, Research Surveyors for MARINElife