MARINElife blog: Seatruck ‘Clipper Point’ Heysham-Dublin 17 January 2017

Stephen Dunstan, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Wind SW 2; Sea State 1; Visibility generally clear, some mist

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aritotelis 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 15
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 9
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 17
Guillemot Uria aalge 498
Razorbill Alca torda 8
Large gull sp. 4
Auk sp. 32

I arrived at Heysham Port just before midnight and as ever the transfer to the boat was efficiently organized.  I was on the bridge just before 08.00 but unfortunately it was a grey day so the visibility took a while to improve.  As this was the first survey of this route in December or January survey time was at a premium, but soon a few seabirds began to show themselves.

Little Gull Peter Howlett 09After a couple of Gannet the first auks began to be seen.  These were largely Guillemot with a small proportion of Razorbill.  A couple of Fulmar passed north close to the boat, and a distant diver species could not be firmly identified.  Probably the best bird of the outward survey was an adult Little Gull in Dublin Bay.  In the calm weather I had hoped to pick out some Harbour Porpoise but it was not to be, though a Grey Seal was loitering around the berth as we unloaded in Dublin.

Whilst the boat was reloading a scan of the surrounding docks and Dublin Bay area produced species not seen on survey effort, including Mediterranean Gull and Great Crested Grebe.  A Hooded Crow landed on the boat for a while, always a good sighting for an England based observer.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 12As we began our return journey the seas were very calm, but unfortunately as we left the harbour and entered Dublin Bay conditions were very misty for a while. This eventually lifted to give excellent cetacean viewing opportunities, enabling a pleasant survey which was further enlivened by a couple of brief Harbour Porpoise sightings, and finally two small pods of Common Dolphin actively feeding ahead of the boat.

Little Gull (Peter Howlett)
Common Dolphin (Peter Howlett)