MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Anglia Seaways’ Felixstowe-Vlaardingen 25 August 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright and Karrie Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather
Outbound: wind W 4 - 6, warm with some cloud cover, increasing glare during morning, dry.
Return: wind mainly S 5 - 7, overcast with some light rain with patches of fog.

Summary of species recorded

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 10
Gannet  Morus bassanus 14
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 446
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 182
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 222
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 119
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 82
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 1
Common Tern  Sterna hirundo 7
Arctic Tern  Sterna paradisaea 1
Larus sp.  39

River birds
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1331
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 6
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 8
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 44
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 3
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 1
Gadwall Anas strepera 83
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 10
Coot Fulica atra 1
Duck sp. 26
Grebe sp. 1

In the evening we arrived at Felixstowe Dock 2 where the Anglia Seaways was already berthed alongside Dooley's dock. After a passport and ticket check by the efficient DFDS staff we were taken onto the ship where we were shown to our comfortable cabins by the very friendly DFDS personnel. After a good night's sleep and a coffee, we were fresh and ready for the survey.

At 6.00am we made our way up to the bridge where we were welcomed by the Officer of the Watch. Viewing conditions were a little challenging, the skies were moderately overcast with some glare ahead but visibility to the horizon was excellent. The seas conditions were challenging with the sea state of 4 - 6 and a swell of 1 -2 metres.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 01
Sandwich Tern (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The 10.5 hours of surveying passed quickly with a steady stream of birds including Fulmar, Common Tern and beautiful diving Gannet that shone in the sun against the dark black clouds. There was little flotsam on both legs of the survey, but we observed a lot of Cuttlefish bones on the surface of the sea forming strings of pearls indicating the flow of the current.

As we entered the "river" (the Nieuwe Waterweg), a Great Black-backed Gull was trying to take off with a large eel in its beak while fighting off numerous Black-headed Gull. Eventually the Great Black-backed Gull triumphed and flew away with the hard-earned prize. It was the start of a busy 1.5 hours recording along the "river" including Sandwich and Arctic Tern, Oystercatcher, Woodpigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Coot. As summer gives way to autumn Gadwall numbers have increased and are beginning to muscle out the Mute Swans.

Our return trip along the "river" was still busy with bird sightings but as we travelled across the North Sea the weather deteriorated and visibility declined sharply due to fog.  We called a halt to the survey at 8pm, tired but satisfied with a good range of observations. Unfortunately, sea and light conditions conspired against any sightings of cetaceans on this survey.

We would like to thank Captain Henri Luffe, his officers and crew of the Anglia Seaways for their continued generosity, hospitality and support.