MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Pace & Panorama' 12 - 13 January 2012

John Perry and Toby Oliver, MARINElife Research Surveyors

Cetaceans and mammals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 31

Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 3
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 35
Gannet Morus bassanus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 86
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 11
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 266
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 86
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 28
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 213
Unidentified Large Gull Sp. 400
Guillemot Uria aalge 58
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Razorbill Alca torda 9
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 5
Unidentified Auk sp. 18

Terrestrial Birds:
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 3
Stock Dove Columba oenas 1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 10
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 3
Knot Chalidris canutus 100
Oyster Catcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Curlew Numenius arquata 1
Dunlin Chalidris alpine 40
Great Crested Grebe  2

Well I certainly chose the right days for my first survey with MARINElife as the weather was perfect. Visibility was >20km throughout both surveys, seas were calm and the two sunsets and sunrise were stunning!John Perry was my Team Leader and being a strong Birder, he was able to pass on key identification skills for seabirds at sea - a great way to learn. This was a great experience for my first time on a ship. The Captains from the Clipper Panorama and Clipper Point together with their crews were very friendly and welcoming.

Redthroat Diver 1

Winter can be a good time for seabirds and this crossing was no exception, with sightings of Gulls, Fulmars, Auks including a Puffin, Red-throated Divers, and a Great Skua.

We did not see any cetaceans on this occasion; however, we did see a colony Grey Seals on the little lighthouse island in Carlingford Lough on the way back to Heysham, basking in the morning sun.

I would like to thank MARINElife for giving me this first opportunity to volunteer as a marine research surveyor, to John Perry for his invaluable leadership during the survey, and to the captains and crew of both Seatruck vessels, including the very welcomed full English breakfasts and lunches!

 I'm already looking forward to my next survey on this excellent route.

 Toby Oliver & John Perry, Research Surveyors for MARINElife