MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Lines ‘Flandria Seaways’ Felixstowe to Vlaardingen survey 26th - 27th August 2013

Michael Bamford and Ross Wheeler, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Out: Wind NE force 3-4 with good visibility. Return: Wind N-NNE force 4/5, reducing 3 with good visibility and significant glare.

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 4

Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet  Morus bassanus 67
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 479
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua   1
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus   184
Common Gull  Larus canus 27
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 363
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus    364
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 8
Common Tern  Sterna hirundo 10
'Commic' Tern  Sterna hirundo/paradisaea  1
Gadwell Anas strepera 111
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1326
Mallard Duck Anas platyrhynchos 9
Canada Goose Branta canadensis 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Coot Fulica atra 6
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus 8
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 10
Mixed Gull Species   514
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 84
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 15
Turnstone spp. 18

DawnonFlandriaSeawaysWe boarded the Flandria Seaways on Bank holiday Monday, and thus there were very few trailers aboard. We were very hospitably received by the ship's Stewardess, and soon got our heads down for an early start.

We joined the bridge at 5.30 a.m. BST, in time to watch the sun come up (see picture).

Despite good visibility and a promising sea state, we saw few birds and no cetaceans, until a couple of Harbour porpoise put in an appearance just before the river entrance. As we reached the river there was evidence of returning migration with a small flock of Bar-tailed Godwit heading south.

Dawn on Flandria Seaways (Photo: Michael Bamford)

We worked frantically whilst moving up the river to keep up with the many birds we saw. This included a large volume of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull with mixed juveniles which were at times too numerous to count, evidently a successful breeding season. Additionally there were large numbers of Cormorant 'adorning' the river wall. There were also the usual large numbers of Mute Swan which were nearly all adults, with an admixture of Gadwall, Egyptian Geese, and waders, including a flock of Lapwing.

Following a sort out of the bird numbers and a brief shut-eye, the ship set off to return at 2.00pm BST. We again wrestled with the large number of birds along the river's edge which included some Sandwich and Common Tern. After leaving the river bird activity died away but again a couple of Harbour Porpoise, an adult and a smaller juvenile, showed in front of the ship.

Egyptian GooseEgyptian Goose (Photo: Michael Bamford)


We saw a mixture of Gannet of all ages whilst at sea, from the darkest of first year birds through a succession of motley plumages to the 'piano key' winged 5th year birds and adults. Light faded just after 8 p.m. and we totalled 3000 or so birds before docking at 11 p.m.

The trip was blessed with bright sunshine however this was a mixed blessing. Both the outbound trip to the East in the morning and the Westerly return in the afternoon were into the sun which meant quite heavy glare from the sea but we still both enjoyed the survey.

We offer our thanks to Captain Jens and his crew and the very efficient Dooley terminal operatives.

Michael Bamford and Ross Wheeler, Research Surveyors for MARINElife