MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Belfast 'Stena Hibernia' 18th - 19th January 2018

Robin Langdon; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Outbound: Overcast; Sea State 4-5; Wind W; Force 6 Homeward: Sunny; Sea State 3-5; Wind W; Force 7

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 7
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Cormorant Phalacrocroax carbo 3
Eider Somateria mollissima 24
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 101
Black Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 78
Razorbill Alca torda 23
Gull sp. 3
Auk sp. 8

Kittiwake Rob Petley-Jones 02aThis trip should have been undertaken by myself and Mike Duckett, but due to the bad weather, and Mike having problems getting to the port, I had to do the trip solo.

The sea conditions in both directions were similar, and not the best for spotting, with a sea state of 4 to 5, and a swell of up to 2 metres. Though after speaking with the Captain Fitzgerald, it seemed that the conditions earlier in the week would have been a lot more interesting! The sea was somewhat horizontally challenged after a storm that went on to cause havoc across the UK, and that prevented Mike from joining me.

As is quite often the case on this trip, no cetaceans were seen on the outbound trip. On the return, this duck was broken by a lone Harbour Seal just as we were leaving Belfast. This was followed later in the day with three separate sightings of Harbour Porpoise, one being a group of four.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 06I was going to say that for the birds the normal suspects were seen, but this was not the case. No Gannets, and very few Great Black-backed Gull or Lesser Black-backed Gull were seen. In fact, very few birds were seen in general, with Kittiwake and Guillemot being the most numerous, while there were quite a few Razorbill and a few Eider on leaving Belfast.

I would like to thank Captain Fitzgerald and Captain Haptar and their crews for making me most welcome and feeding me well. I even got black pudding for breakfast! Also, thanks to Jury's Inn for an excellent night in Belfast.

Robin Langdon; Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Kittiwake Photo: Rob Petley-Jones
Razorbill Photo: Peter Howlett