Sightings Archives: August 2014

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Lines ‘Flandria Seaways’ Felixstowe – Vlaardingen 25-26th August 2014

Posted 17 September 2014

Michael Bamford, Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Wind, Easterly - East North Easterly, Force 6 - 7 moderating to 5 on return. Overcast, visibility 5 - 6: outbound intermittent light rain. Sea state 6-7, moderating to 5 on return.

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Fulmar Fularus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 45
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 555
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 14
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 47
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 214
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 307
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 117
Unidentified large gull spp. 150

River birds:
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 970
Gadwall Anas strepers 86
Grey Heron Ardea cineria 2
Coot Fulica atra 3
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 11
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 2

Terrestrial birds:
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus 1
Hobby Falco subbuteo 1
Stock Dove Columba oenas 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 1

DroppingThePilot-MikeBamfordThis survey was dominated by a strong breeze from the East, and some interesting and surprising observations.

We were very efficiently met and transported to the ship through the maze of Felixstowe docks, and shown to the driver's mess and our cabins for the night. With a low pressure area centred on the southern North Sea, and rain and wind forecast, we were not greatly optimistic about viewing prospects for the next day.

We were up at 5.30am and met a very grey dawn with intermittent rain. The birds we met prior to the river mouth were largely Gannet with a few Sandwich Tern, the river entrance was lined with Cormorant and busy with Lesser Black-backed Gull. A couple of Green Sandpiper on the bank indicated migration was in progress. Higher up the river the usual large numbers of Mute Swan, and Gadwall kept us occupied, pending docking at 10.30am.

After a brief count up and a filling lunch, we grabbed some rest before setting off on our return trip. An early highlight of the river section was a grey winged, long tailed raptor - a male Montagu's Harrier, crossing the river; probably on early migration.

Dropping the pilot (Mike Bamford)

Sightings were sparse on the early part of the return, but despite the choppy seas, a Harbour Porpoise was spotted by Angela, and put in a couple of rolls before disappearing.

LargeWhite-MikeBamfordAdditional highlights were a flotilla of white butterflies (photo), which danced round the ship - large whites are known to migrate from the continent to Britain. A Meadow Pipit rested briefly in front of the bridge, and we were surprised by a fast flying raptor coming in to the boat mid North Sea, about 50 km from land. It was a Hobby carrying a small bird prey item. It circled the ship, apparently undecided whether to land before heading off to an uncertain fate. Unfortunately photos were not very good, but clearly confirmed the sighting.

Three Bonxies getting up from the water in the early evening were a further highlight before the light faded at 8 p.m.

With many thanks to Captain Orfeus Kekus and his very helpful crew.

Large White (Mike Bamford)

Michael Bamford, Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife