MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS vessel ‘Selandia’ Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 5th November 2018

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outbound - Wind South force 5, sea state 3. Inbound - Wind South East force 3, sea state 2.

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 18
Common Gull Larus canus 16
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 392
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Gull sp. Laridae 184
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 386
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7

River and Terrestrial Birds
Coot Fulica atra 75
Gadwall Anas strepera 269
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 10
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 23
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 50
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 20
Wigeon Anas penelope 90

I was greeted with a warm welcome to the Netherlands as I arrived on the bridge.  My phone had just received a text so we were still within mobile phone coverage, not too far from the coast. I was doing this survey single handed; which was probably a good job as it turned out there was very little to spot, most likely due (at least in part) to being so late in the year.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 02It took a whole hour before I saw my first bird.  The normal gambit of birds, Gull species, Kittiwake, Cormorant etc., were all seen though in much fewer numbers than I am used to on these surveys. Even the Vlaardingen Mute Swan count, which is usually up in the hundreds (sometimes reaching close to a thousand), only hit 50 in total with me counting both on the way into harbour and on the way out again.

The most unusual flying thing I caught sight of was a helicopter that passed us as we were making our way back up the river. It seemed to be flying below bridge height and it was unclear why it was flying this low, it just seemed to go up the river and then circle back at a higher height. My largest 'count' was the number of ships as we entered and left the river; it looked a bit like the ships version of the M25...

Unsurprisingly, I did not manage to catch site of any Cetaceans or other marine mammals.

As a result of the time of year I only managed to get 5 hours or so of surveying done before the light faded on me. With my opportunity to record any more sightings over, I retired below deck with nearly 4 hours still to go before we reached Felixstowe.

I would like to thank the captain and the crew of the Selandia for their ongoing support, and as always making me most welcome and feeding me so well.