MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 4th July 2017

Robin Langdon; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Outbound - Wind North force 1, sea state 0  Return - Wind South force 1, sea state 0

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Grey Seal. 1
Dolphin sp. 4

Gannet Morus bassanus 17
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 81
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 494
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 508
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Artic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 11
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Gull sp. 35
Tern sp. 18
Commic Tern. 5

River and Terrestrial Birds
Greylag Goose Anser anser 28
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1128
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 1
Gadwall Anas strepera 35
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 4
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5
Coot Fulica atra 2
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1

This was not really a trip for the 'birders'; particularly on the return trip the bird sightings were few and far between.  This was possibly partly due to the very calm conditions, meaning the birds were not getting any extra lift from the wind, though very few were seen on the water either. However, there was the normal frantic count of the Mute Swan and the Cormorant in the river as we went into the port.  The count was slightly less than my trip in May but, as I was the only surveyor this time, my efforts were contained to one side of the shoreline so there may have been more.

I did spot a Spoonbill, trying to disguise itself in amongst the Mute Swan (and almost got counted as such). This was a first for me on a MARINElife survey as the only Spoonbill I had seen previously were in New Zealand; so this one was a bit closer to home.

Though the conditions were not good for bird sightings they were ideal conditions for spotting mammals; particularly on the return journey where there was zero swell and a sea state of 1 approaching 0.  On the outward bound journey there was a single Seal and three Dolphins.  The dolphins were most likely White-beaked, a species I had not seen before.

WB Dolphin Graham Ekins 01

White-beaked Dolphin (Graham Ekins)

On the return a number of Harbour Porpoise were spotted.  Some of these would have been very difficult to see if the conditions had not been so good.  I also spotted a single Dolphin which appeared only briefly in the glare in front of the boat, so was not possible to identify species.

The conditions were so good that I was spotting seaweed at 500 paces.  So if MARINElife decides to add this to the species spotted then I am ahead of the game.

There were some other potential sightings also.  One I could not decide if I were looking at a seal or a slow moving Porpoise due to glare from the sun; in hindsight, I think it was probably a Porpoise as I saw one behaving in a similar fashion later.

I would like to thank the captain and the crew for making me most welcome and feeding me well.  Also for keeping me supplied with coffee to keep my eyes keen.

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife