MARINElife Survey Report: Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 'Selandia Seaways' 10th April 2018

Carol Farmer-Wright and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outbound: foggy with improving visibility and increasing glare: S-SSE wind force 5-3.
Inbound: brighter, good visibility with glare: NE wind force 4-5

Marine mammals
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 9
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 2

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 33
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Common Tern/Arctic Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 5
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 23
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 194
Diver sp. Gaviidae 1
Eider Somateria mollissima 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 84
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 57
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Gull sp. Laridae 115
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 619
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 9
Larus Gull sp. 399
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 692
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 3
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 25
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Tern sp. Sternidae 56
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 2

Terrestrial Birds
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 19
Coot Fulica atra 36
Duck sp. 160
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca    3
Gadwall Anas Strepera 225
Goose sp. Anatidae 12
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 15
Greylag Goose Anser anser 2
Magpie Pica pica 1
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 53
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 45
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia 6
Wagtail sp. Motacilla sp. 1
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 4
Wigeon Anas penelope 15

We met up at Felixstowe port where we were given our tickets and taken to the Selandia Seaways. After being advised of our cabin numbers we retired for the night to be fresh for our day of surveying.

We awoke at 6am and were escorted to the bridge to begin our survey. There was a heavy fog in the North Sea and visibility was limited to around half a mile which enabled us to concentrate on the area closest to the ship. Our first bird sightings were of Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet and Kittiwake. As we neared the Netherlands' coast the fog started to clear and we encountered a flock of Common Scoter and small numbers of Sandwich Tern. We did not catch sight of any cetaceans (mammals) on the outbound crossing. On entering the river, we spotted a number of Cormorants on the breakwater. The mist had cleared by then and the sun was shining directly ahead, casting the flying birds into silhouette. Great, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull were beginning to choose nesting sites on the shingle spit on the south of the river. We spotted various Gull, Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon, a few Mute Swan, Egyptian Geese and Carrion Crow crossing the river.

Grey Seal Ruth Griffith 02

Grey Seal (Ruth Griffith)

As we approached DFDS' freight terminal a plume of smoke was seen. A building was on fire and as we passed the fire crews were concentrating on controlling the fire which they managed successfully. We moored at the terminal and left the bridge to enjoy our lunch.

Four hours later we were turning back out into the river. We were recording the same bird species as before, but the skies were clearer and the visibility had improved, though the glare was more evident as we entered the North Sea. Within half an hour we encountered our first marine mammal, a bottling Harbour Seal. A further hour elapsed before we recorded our first sighting of Harbour Porpoise followed by five other sightings of mammals in the next forty minutes. Sightings of birds started to tail off after 6pm. We left the bridge as the sun was setting having thanked the officer on watch.

We wish to thank DFDS Seaways, Captain Thomas Stephensen and his officers and crew for enabling this survey to go ahead and making us so welcome aboard their vessel.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife