MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen, “Britannia Seaways” 5th July 2016

Robin Langdon and Derek Eaton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 500
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus ridibundus 426
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis 11
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 82
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 783
Black Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 72
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 1
Yellow-Legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Shearwater Sp. 1
Tern sp. 2
Larus sp. 100

Terrestrial and River birds:
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 548
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 2
Greylag Goose Anser anser 29
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 10
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 10
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 13
Coot Fulica atra 1
Canada Goose Branta canadensis 10
Curlew Numenius arquata 5

This was Derek's first survey in 18 months due to bad weather cancelling trips.  This was my first survey in 18 hours having just rushed down the country from Immingham. For me, it was as the famous song sings "What a difference a day makes". I felt a bit like Harold rushing down to Hastings after the battle of Stamford Bridge; with a similar result in terms of success. On my last survey we logged a record number of marine mammals; 20 Porpoise, 7 Seals and a Dolphin.  However, this survey saw one lone Grey Seal in the river at Immingham only.


Grey Seal (Adrian Shephard)

On the outward journey we had our meals with the crew and were allowed onto the bridge as soon as we rose in the morning. I was going to say we saw the usual sea birds but some of the usual were not seen.  There were no auks, Fulmar, Kittiwake or Great Black-backed Gull.  However, we did see Lesser Black-backed Gull and Gannet.  Derek stated that we were only seeing juveniles and failed lovers, which may have been true but not sure he should look for a career in marriage guidance just yet… 
On the river at Vlaardingen there were plenty of Mute Swan and Cormorant lining the side of the river.  There were few ducks and waders in the river as most were off at their breeding grounds.  More unusually there was a single Yellow Legged Gull spotted standing on one of the docks.

Towards the end of the day on our return journey we spotted a lone Balearic Shearwater.  We may have seen the bird a second time but was too distance to confirm.

Balearic Shear Tom Brereton 02

Balearic Shearwater (Tom Brereton)

The weather conditions most of the survey were not ideal for spotting; the sea state was approaching 5.  However, the last couple of hours on the return journey the sea calmed to a 1 and the conditions for surveying approved considerable, apart from a bit of glare when looking straight ahead.  We felt everything was right to spot a marine mammal or two, but alas saw none.  May be they were watching the football.

We would like to thank Captain Kim Carlsson and his crew who made us most welcome on the Britannia Seaways, as well as DFDS for their continued support.

Robin Langdon and Derek Eaton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife