MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 4th October 2016

Karrie Langdon and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward - broken cloud, reasonable visibility, easterly wind force 5.
Return - brighter, reasonable visibility with glare at times: easterly wind force 2

Marine Mammals
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 1
Unidentified Dolphin Sp  1

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 11

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 5
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 1

River Birds
Unlisted sp.  42
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 351
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 864
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 457
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 181
Carrion Crow Corvus corone        20
Starling Sturnus vulgaris  4
Mallard Anus platyrhynchos          46
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia 2
Black Guillemot  Cepphus grille 1
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 545
Wigeon Anas Penelope 23
Coot Fulica atra 2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellate 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1

We arrived on board the Britannia Seaways and were welcomed by a very helpful crew before being shown to our cabin. The overnight crossing eastbound was very smooth so we were up early, refreshed for the day ahead. Only problem was the sun was not up….. it appeared half an hour later, but it was well worth waiting for.

Sunset Felixstowe

Sunset (Karrie Langdon)

The day brought reasonable sea conditions with a sea state of 2-3 and about 1.5m swell which improved as the day progressed. We started our formal observations at 6.45am BST from the bridge as the light conditions were good minus a persistent light haze in the distance; this did not interfere with the action close to the ferry where we spotted a Dolphin very briefly.

The trip was peppered with isolated sightings of birds including Gannet, Common Scoter and Greater Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. We had manged to collect some migrant seabirds from Felixstowe and we played hide and seek for most of the voyage. As usual persistence paid off and we finally identified them; a Chaffinch and four young Starlings.

Chaffinch

Migrating Chaffinch (Karrie Langdon)

hen we entered the river section it must have been the rush hour. There were up to 20 large ships within sight ploughing up and down the river. Several crew members were on the bridge monitoring the traffic as we progressed to the quay. All this action did not seem to disturb the birds and we spotted a wide variety of birds including a Mute Swan, Wigeon, Cormorant, Red-Throated Diver, and Great Crested Grebe.  There was one Harbour Seal who thought he could out-fox our observational skills by bobbing about near a pier but we spotted him.

At the end of a good day we chatted with some of the crew who were interested in what we had seen that day. They told us stories of the cetaceans that they had encountered on their voyages which made us want to stay on-board and do the trip again.

We would like to thank Captain Kristian Christensen and his crew for their kind hospitality and help on this survey.

Karrie Langdon and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for MARINElife