Sightings Archives: October 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Belfast 'Stena Precision & Performer' 11 - 12 October 2013

Posted 21 October 2013

Stephen Dunstan and Sarah Neill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward - NW wind 3 increasing to 6  
Return - N to NW wind 3 increasing to 5


Cetaceans and Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 198
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 57
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 6
Eider Somateria mollissima 3100
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 65
Common Gull Larus canus    37
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 42
Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Little Gull Larus minutus 20
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 121
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 343
Razorbill Alca torda 453
Unidentified auk sp 144

Other birds seen during survey
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus 170
Teal Anas crecca 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 1

Great Black-backed Gull 03/13We arrived at the Heysham Freight Terminal in plenty of time and were quickly given breakfast to set us up for the day before making our way to the bridge to begin the survey.

Leaving the harbour and heading into Morecambe Bay we recorded numerous Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull and Little Gull, as well as a single Red-throated Diver and Meadow Pipit. Shortly after this we were treated to the sight of a flock of Pink-footed Goose consisting of around 170 individuals and flying in beautiful formations.

Throughout the crossing we recorded numerous Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, and Kittiwake with the odd Common Scoter and Manx Shearwater. Later in the afternoon we witnessed a feeding frenzy with lots of auks and dive-bombing Gannet. We were hoping the frenzy might signify cetaceans rounding up a bait ball but we could not spot any amongst all the activity.

Approaching Belfast we had sightings of Cormorant, Shag, Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, and Great Black-backed Gull, and finally the amazing sight of over 2000 Eider just before we docked.

Harbour Porpoise Rick Morris 02aAfter a good night's sleep in a comfortable room provided by Jury's Inn we boarded the Stena Precision for the return journey to Heysham. Shortly after leaving the harbour we again spotted over 1000 Eider.

During the return crossing we recorded all the same species as the previous day, in addition to a Great Skua and a Teal. In the afternoon we had a period of calm water and were excited to get a cetacean sighting of two Harbour Porpoise, before the wind picked up again. We also saw another flock of Pink-footed Goose, this time with an unidentified duck flying in the middle of the formation.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all the staff at Stena and the Jury's Inn for their welcoming hospitality.

Stephen Dunstan and Sarah Neill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife