MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 8th May 2017

Robin Langdon and Mike Duckett; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outbound - Glare most of the crossing, Wind North force 3, sea state 0-2
Return - Glare first part of the crossing, Wind North force 3, sea state 0-3

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Seal sp. 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 37
Fulmar   Fulmarus glacialis 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 354
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 366
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 38
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 297
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot  Uria aalge 26
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis 76
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 209
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Larus sp. 322
Gull sp. 781
Tern sp. 119
Shearwater sp. 4

River and Terrestrial Birds
Greylag Goose Anser anser 145
Duck sp. 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 7
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1265
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 36
Gadwall Anas strepera 88
Canada Goose    Branta canadensis 2
Redshank Tringa totanus 5
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 5
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 21
Goose sp. 23
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 1
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 1
Coot Fulica atra 30
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 10
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 2

Possibly the most interesting part of our survey happened before it even began.  Mike had wanted to do some walking in Suffolk before the survey, and as I live close to the port, we met at my house and travelled together from there.  As Mike was nearing my house, walking along a sea wall alongside the river Alde that leads up to Orford, he spotted something in the river channel.  It is not unheard of to a see seal in this part of the river, however on this occasion it was not a seal but a Harbour Porpoise.  It was staying in roughly the same place swimming against the current, seemingly happily playing in the channel.  It stayed around long enough for Mike to take a video of the activities (the photographs are stills from the video). A great spot before we'd even started!

Harbour Porpoise Mike Duckett 01

Harbour Porpoise (Mike Duckett)

We then went on to board the Suecia Seaways to begin the actual survey, though none of our encounters were quite as exciting as our river dwelling porpoise. However, we spotted a seal just after the start of the river at Vlaardingen on our outward journey, and did have a quick glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise on our return.

The birds spotted while crossing the North Sea were few and far between as to be expected at this time of the year.  Even some of the regulars seemed to be missing with only 1 Guillemot being spotted on the outward journey.  No Kittiwake or Fulmar were seen until a few on the return journey. Although sea conditions were good, the sun's glare did cause problems which may have meant we missed some, particularly if they were sitting on the water.

Fulmar Darren Fanner 01

Fulmar (Darren Fanner)

In the river channel at Vlaardingen the Mute Swan have come back with a vengeance, we counted just over 1200. There were also a good number of Terns, both Common and Sandwich, who were particularly fond of flying around the reversing ships as the water was churned up.

We would like to thank the captain and his crew for treating us well.

Robin Langdon and Mike Duckett, Research Surveyors for MARINElife