MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Belfast 'Stena Hibernia and Performer' 17th - 18th May 2018

Nik Grounds; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Outward: F1-3 SE, clear. Return: F2-4 SW, cloudy

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 5
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 46
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 250
Cormorant Phalacrocroax carbo 6
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 20
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 183
Black Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 166
Razorbill Alca torda 30

Terrestrial Birds:
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 2
Eider Somateria mollissima 8

Kittiwake Rob Petley-Jones 01aI was welcomed onboard the Stena Hibernia at Heysham and enjoyed a cooked breakfast before being shown to the bridge. Weather conditions were promising with good visibility and some cloud cover.

Initially, the first leg of the survey was quite quiet, with birds seen singly or in very small groups. These were mainly Kittiwake and Guillemot with a variety of gulls.

Common Dolphin Adrian Shephard 05Further out at sea there were good numbers of Manx Shearwater including some very sizeable rafts. With the Isle of Man now in sight I was hopefully of cetaceans, particularly around the Point of Ayre, which has been reliable in the past. Though I did find a Harbour Porpoise in this area, I had to wait a little longer until identifying a pod of at least four Common Dolphin.

After a very comfortable overnight stay at the Jurys Inn in Belfast, I enjoyed the short transfer to Belfast Harbour and boarded the Stena Performer where the ever-helpful staff and crew welcomed me for the return crossing. The weather was again cloudy with a light wind.

Pomarine Skua RPJA good start to the survey was the sighting of a Grey Seal in Belfast Lough. A further three Grey Seal were seen alongside individual Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin. As we approached Morecambe Bay, a resting Pomarine Skua took off in front of the vessel.

Many thanks as ever to the Captains and crews of both the Hibernia and Performer for making me welcome aboard their ships.

Nik Grounds; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Kittiwake Photo (Rob Petley-Jones)
Common Dolphin Photo (Adrian Shephard)
Pomarine Skua Photo (Rob Petley-Jones)