Sightings Archives: February 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Point & Panorama' 16 - 17 February 2012

Posted 19 February 2012

Jane Petley-Jones and Janet Shepherd, MARINElife Research Surveyors
Weather: SW 3

Cetaceans and mammals:
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 10
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 54

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 19
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 28
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 34
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 484
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 18
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 72
Common Gull Larus canus 86
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 235
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 67
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 52
Unidentified Large Gull Sp. 15
Unidentified mixed Gull spp. 50+
Guillemot Uria aalge 423
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 9
Razorbill Alca torda 21

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 36 (mudflats at Heysham)
Curlew Numenius arquat 2
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 2
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus 69
Sanderling Calidris alba 30
Hooded crow Corvus cornix 1
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 16
Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 12

Thursday 16th February: Heysham to Warrenpoint onboard Clipper Point.

We were welcomed aboard the 'Clipper Point' by the friendly crew, and took our station on the bridge for a prompt 8.30 am departure, with a high tide.

Just as we were preparing to leave we were treated to some large skeins of Pink-footed Geese passing over to their day time feeding grounds. As we moved out into Morecambe Bay we began to pick up various species of sea birds, with some very clear views of Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet in different plumage states.

Manx Shearwater 1One surprise was a single Manx Shearwater. They mainly stay offshore during the winter, feeding in the North Atlantic, but this one was possibly checking out its breeding grounds.

The approach to Carlingford Lough at the end of the outward voyage brought us some great views of Grey seals on the islands, and some lovely Red-throated Divers which seem to favour this area.

After disembarking, we were taken to our B&B just outside Warrenpoint by a very chatty taxi driver!


Friday 17th February: Warrenpoint to Heysham onboard Clipper Panorama.

Warrenpoint Docks were mirror calm as we went on board next morning, with mist over the hills. We saw a small flock of Brent Geese feeding on the shore as we moved off, and even more Red-throated Divers in the entrance to the Lough. The Black Guillemots were busy moving about this area, and the Grey Seals were mostly in the water, hunting for their breakfast. 

Common Dolphin 5

On the bridge, we were introduced to Panorama's Officer Cadet, a very attentive young man taking his University Degree under sponsorship from Seatruck.

The return voyage was taken at a slower average speed, to arrive as the tide was rising in Heysham. Whether this is significant to dolphins or not we do not know, but we were delighted when a group of 9 Common Dolphins came leaping in to bow-ride and wake-ride around the ship, giving us and the crew on the bridge some superb views of their yellow and grey 'hour-glass' markings.

These are the moments that make every survey so worthwhile, and a delight to carry out. We are so grateful to Seatruck for their continuing support.

  Jane Petley-Jones and Janet Shepherd, Research Surveyors for MARINElife