MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 'Selandia Seaways' 6th March 2018

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Outbound: Overcast, good visibility: S-SSW 5-2.  Return: Brighter, good visibility with glare at times: WNW-S 4-3

Marine mammals
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Seabirds
Auk sp. 172
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 146
Common Gull Larus canus 70
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 162
Diver (Loon) sp. 1
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 56
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 139
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 130
Gull sp. 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 602
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 117
Larus sp. 68
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 40
Razorbill Alca torda 9

Terrestrial and River Birds
Carrion Crow  Corvus corone 22
Coot Fulica atra 35
Duck sp. 16
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 4
Gadwall Anas Strepera 305
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinereal 1
Greylag Goose Anser anser 140
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 1
Magpie Pica pic 1
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 5
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 5
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 11
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia 4
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 2
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 4
Bar-headed Goose  Anser indicus 2
Wader sp. 2
Wigeon Anas Penelope 10

With the "Beast from the east" having abated and storm Emma over, it was lovely to be able to drive down to Felixstowe in the evening with only a few snow patches left. I arrived at the port and was quickly escorted to the Selandia Seaways to make myself comfortable in my cabin and get some sleep before the survey began in the morning.

I awoke before dawn and was taken up to the bridge to set up. As dawn broke, a solitary Black-backed Gull rode the air in front of the ship. As the minutes passed it was joined by several others. The sun rose, casting many birds into silhouette so that it was difficult to discern Razorbill from Guillemot but many were seen flying to feeding areas or resting on the water. Other birds seen whilst travelling on the North Sea included Kittiwake and Gannet. Over the first two hours a solitary Grey Seal and a Harbour Porpoise were seen. On the river the bird species changed; Cormorant and Herring Gull were seen and duck species such as Tufted and Gadwall were feeding at the river edge. Egyptian and Greylag Geese were also recorded together with two Bar-headed Geese (probably escapees from a collection). We arrived in Vlaardingen and four hours later were returning to the UK.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 03

Cormorant (Peter Howlett)

On the return trip I spotted additional bird species including Coot and Wigeon. In the North Sea Kittiwake, Cormorant, auk and a single Fulmar were recorded before the sun set and I returned to the living accommodation to compile my sightings.

I wish to thank DFDS Seaways captain Thomas Stephensen, his officers and crew for enabling this survey to go ahead and making me feel so welcome aboard their vessel.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife