Stephen Hedley and Kate Dunning, Research Surveyors
Outward - overcast, moderate visibility: north-easterly wind force 5. Return - brighter, moderate visibility with glare at times: northerly wind force 5-6.
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 38
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 18
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 265
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 7
Gull sp. Laridae 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 183
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 655
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 17
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 116
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 672
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6
Spoonbill Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 2
Greylag Goose Anser anser 140
Gadwall Anas Strepera 44
Coot Fulica atra 13
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 11
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 6
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur 1
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 1
We met up just outside the port and went together to get security passes and our tickets from the DFDS offices. We were then driven to the dockside and boarded Selandia Seaways. On board we were shown to our comfortable cabins and retired for the night, ready for an early start.
The next morning we were escorted to the bridge and greeted by reasonable visibility and sea conditions. We later learned that there had been fog in previous days, as a result of the lack of wind, plus cold sea and warm air. Instead we had some wind and hence a moderate sea state, but better visibility. These things are rarely, if ever, perfect for cetacean and bird spotting.
Our first bird was a lone Fulmar, a beautiful seabird, but these days one that is hard to think about without thinking of the micro-plastics that it may have consumed. Other sporadic sightings included occasional Gannet and accompanying gulls; mainly Herring and Lesser Black Backed, plus closer to land a Sandwich Tern.
We arrived at the entrance of the waterway just before 09:00 hours and observed the first of many Mute Swan and Cormorant, close to the sea wall. As we passed along the waterway towards Vlaardingen, bird numbers increased almost exponentially, making it hard to count numbers and note details. Other species observed included: Great Blacked Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Greylag Goose, Oystercatcher, Spoonbill, Gadwall, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Carrion Crow, plus a flight across the bridge by a lone Turtle Dove.
Arctic Skua (Peter Howlett)
Our return journey started after a rest for us around four hours later and we retraced our journey back to the sea along the waterway, observing similar species to those listed earlier, plus Arctic Tern, Jackdaw and Common Gull. The sun was in front of us and so we had some glare ahead for the return. At sea we encountered Gannet, Gull species, Sandwich Tern, Fulmar and an Arctic Skua. We also spotted our only cetacean of the survey, a blink and you miss it, Harbour Porpoise about an hour out to sea.
We left the bridge as we approached Felixstowe, having watched the sun dip down over the Suffolk coast. We would like to thank DFDS, Captain Stephensen and crew for an enjoyable trip and supporting MarineLife surveys.
Stephen Hedley and Kate Dunning, Research Surveyors for MARINElife