MARINElife Survey Report, Felixstowe-Vlaardingen, "DFDS Anglia Seaways" 7 - 8th March 2016

Robin Langdon and Vince Green,Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Weather and Species Recorded

Weather: Winds mainly from the North- small amount of rain and Snow on outward bound.  Sea state 1-2 with minimal swell.

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise   Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 1

Guillemot   Uria algae 1
Fulmar    Fulmarus glacialis 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet    Morus bassanus 42
Herring Gull    Larus argentatus 110
Lesser Black-backed Gull   Larus fuscus 91
Great Black-backed Gull   Larus marinus 37
Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla 74
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua  1
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 16
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 16

Birds seen on the Nieuwe Waterweg

Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 391
Great Crested Grebe  Podiceps cristatus 3
Coot  Fulica atra 47
Mute Swan  Cygnus olor 2
Mallard Anas platyrhynchus 20
Gadwall  Anas strepera 143
Herring Gull    Larus argentatus 234
Lesser Black-backed Gull   Larus fuscus 56
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 17
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 57
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 2
Carrion Crow  Corvus corone 6
Woodpigeon  Columba polumbus 11
Wigeon Mareca 151
Magpie Pica pica 2
Blackbird Turdus merula 1
Raven Corvus corax 3

We arrived at Felixstowe port a little earlier than planned but were still invited in to the DFDS office where we waited in the warm with a cup of coffee for the arrival of the ship.  This was Vince and I's second trip together in a month.  We had not seen any cetaceans on our previous trip so were both eager to get out and spot some. We boarded the ship just before midnight for a good night's rest before an early start the next morning.

VinceGreen Surveying

Vince surveying (PHOTO: Vince Green)

As it was getting light we were escorted up to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Henry and his crew. We then set up ready for the day's surveying.  The conditions were reasonable for most of the crossing apart from a small spell of rain and sleet.

BHGull RobinLangdon

Black headed gull (PHOTO: Robin Langdon)

We saw the usual birds with plenty of Gannet, Kittiwake and Black-backed gulls as well as the occasional Skua.  This all changed when we hit the mouth of the river Nieuwe Waterweg.  After my previous trip we were expecting to count hundreds of Mute Swans, this time just the two were seen.  There were plenty of Widgeon and Gadwall alongside Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and various land birds.  We stopped the survey just before the ship docked and retired to the main deck to enter the data and have lunch.

The return journey started around 14:30 GMT.  Only a few Widgeon were seen on our return up the river but there were still plenty of Herring Gull, Black-backed Gull and Gadwalls. We kept an eagle eye out as we neared the mouth of the river as we knew Porpoise had been seen in the bay on a previous trip but, alas, none were seen this time.


Cotton wool sky (PHOTO: Robin Langdon)

Once out into the open sea we started to see the usual sea birds plus one Manx Shearwater.  Just as we crossed a line of disturbed water, were there were a number of Greater Black-backed Gulls in and around the water, a Harbour Porpoise was spotted surfacing quickly.

At last we had spotted our first cetacean as a surveying team. This got better a little while later when a Grey Seal was spotted bobbing alongside the ship.

As it was an overcast sky the light faded quickly, but not before a strange cloud formation that looked somewhat like cotton wool.  We thanked Captain Henry for his hospitality and returned to the main deck for some much needed rest.

We would like to thank DFDS for their continued support for this important survey route.


Robin Langdon and Vince Green,Research Surveyors for MARINElife