Carol Farmer-Wright and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors
Outbound: Sea state 4-2, dry, slight to moderate swell, few clouds with good visibility, glare excepting
Return: Sea state 5-4, few clouds, slight to moderate swell, good visibility, glare excepting.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 82
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/ paradisaea 18
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 68
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 344
Gannet Morus bassanus 60
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 44
Gull sp. Laridae 394
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 378
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 29
Larus sp. Larus sp. 744
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 233
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 13
Tern sp. Sternidae 27
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 6
Duck sp. Duck 39
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinereal 1
Greylag Goose Anser anser 25
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 511
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia 8
Driving down to Felixstowe on a dry summers evening was lovely. Even an hour after the sun had set, the landscape could still be seen clearly. Robin and I met at Dooley Terminal Felixstowe just after 10.15pm and were issued with tickets by the office team and taken to the Selandia Seaways. Upon boarding we were allocated cabins and arranged to meet around dawn the next morning.
wn broke to a clear morning with a moderate sea state and swell. At first we encountered Gannet and Great Black-backed Gull that hung in the breeze over the ships bow. About three hours into the survey we passed a fishing vessel. Initially only a few birds could be seen, however once out of the glare Black-backed Gull, both Lesser and Great were seen circling the vessel. Gannet were also in attendance. The vessel was a beam trawler and it was interesting to see 20 to 30 of the birds sitting on each beam waiting for an opportune moment to join the other feeding birds.
At 9 am we entered the New Maas Waterway. At the mouth of the river a number of Cormorant were gathered alongside Mute Swan. The waterway seemed quieter than we would have expected, with only 235 Mute Swan seen on the inbound transect. The shingle bank that divides the Maas River seemed particularly emptier than is expected during the breeding season. A few small ducks were seen flying, unfortunately they were in silhouette and identification was not possible. The main sea birds recorded in the river were Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull with several Tern species including Sandwich and Common also seen.
After an hour we approached the berth at Vlaardingen. We then went to lunch and rested before the beginning of the return leg.
Four and a half hours later, we returned to the bridge to survey on the return leg. The same species were recorded on the river and whilst we were in Vlaardingen the sea had become higher resulting in harder surveying conditions. Fewer birds were seen once in the North Sea, the majority being Gannet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Terns and a group of 25 Kittiwake which passed us two hours before we docked at Felixstowe. With the sun going down and the Suffolk coast in sight, we descended from the bridge to prepare for disembarkation.
Carol Farmer-Wright and Robin Langdon; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Our thanks go to DFDS Seaways, Captain Torben Sekjaer , his officers and crew for enabling us to complete this survey and for being so helpful whilst on board.
Carol Farmer-Wright and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife