Sightings Archives: September 2011

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Point & Panorama' 8 - 9 September 2011

Posted 12 September 2011

Rob Petley-Jones and Nick Grounds, MARINElife Research Surveyors
Weather: WSW 3-6; Moderate conditions

Cetaceans and mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 9
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Unidentified Seal sp. 100 

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 143
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 6679
Gannet Morus bassanus 353
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 366
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 3
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 52
Common Gull Larus canus 47
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 43
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 31
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 169
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 23
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 3
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 7
Unidentified Large Gull Sp. 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 502
Razorbill Alca torda 6
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Unidentified Auk sp. 2
Unidentified Skua sp 1

Thursday 8th September: Heysham to Warrenpoint onboard Clipper Point.

After boarding the Clipper Point, we received a very warm welcome from the captain, Tim Broughton and his crew.  Tim invited us up to the bridge before our departure at 9.15am. Weather conditions were overcast and the sea state was moderate. Fulmars and Kittiwakes were seen close to shore soon after departing Heysham harbour and also a Grey Seal was seen.  Within an hour we had close views of a Great Skua.

Fulmar 1Kittiwake juv 4

A good number of Guillemots were seen during a quiet period just south of Calf of Man, with juveniles still staying close to parents.  The quiet was soon broken with our first Harbour Porpoise sighting of two adults and one juvenile which showed very well, if rather briefly.  Counting large rafts of Manx Shearwaters kept us very busy, and the excitement grew to a peak with a sighting of a Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise together.

An Arctic Skua came close to the Clipper Point as it mobbed five Kittiwakes and we had spectacular view as it forced one Kittiwake to give up its lunch within close proximity of the bridge. As we approached Carlingford Loch we had an excellent view of a Black Throated Diver flying across the entrance to the Loch.  Close by over forty Seals were hauled out on the tidal banks.

Arctic Skua 3

After mooring at Warrenpoint we were invited to dinner on board by Tim to discuss the day's sightings.

Friday 9th September: Warrenpoint to Heysham onboard Clipper Panorama.

Upon boarding the Clipper Panorama, we were welcomed by Nick's ex secondary school colleague Captain Andy Bradbury (small world!) and prepared ourselves for our 8.45am sailing.

Again we encountered large rafts of Manx Shearwaters which proved somewhat challenging to count and a close view of a Pomarine Skua. Just after the Calf of Man we had close views of three Puffins resting on the sea along with Gannets, Fulmars and Guillemots. A Red Throated Diver was seen on the approach to Heysham harbour.

Redthroat Diver 1Manx Shearwaters flock

After a very long and productive day, we thanked Andy and his crew for allowing us to survey from the bridge and for their very warm hospitality.

Rob Petley-Jones and Nick Grounds, Research Surveyors for MARINElife