Sightings Archives: April 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Panorama & Point' 19 - 20 April 2012

Posted 25 April 2012

John Perry and Alison McAleer, MARINElife Research Surveyors

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 45

Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 25
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 6
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 28
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 37
Gannet Morus bassanus 119
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 14
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 68
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 66
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 59
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 19
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 91
Sandwich Tern Sterna  sandvicensis 26
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9 
Guillemot Uria aalge 277
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 34
Razorbill Alca torda 15
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Unidentified Auk sp 2
Unidentified Diver sp 1
Unidentified Tern sp 6
Unidentified Gull sp 80

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus  6
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 3
(Pale bellied) Brent Goose Branta bernicla 11
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 1

We couldn't have wished for two better days for the April survey!  After a very warm welcome on board the MV Clipper Panorama by Captain Richard Jamieson, we were treated to relatively calm, bright conditions for much of the time out across the Lune Deep.  By the time we approached the Calf of Man basking in misty sunshine, we'd recorded a good number of gulls and auks, with regular sightings of Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Gannets and one lone Great Skua.

Manx Shearwater 1

A real treat followed when two porpoises made a brief appearance just ahead of the boat before disappearing amongst the waves.  Wonderful views of Manx Shearwaters gliding effortlessly across the water for much of the journey.

As the late evening sun bathed the beautiful Mountains of Mourne in a warm golden light, we had some very special sightings of Great Northern Divers close to the ship.

Large numbers of grey seals were hauled up on the shore as we headed into Carlingford Lough, and several Sandwich Terns swept past on our way into Warrenpoint where we were greeted by numerous Black Guillemots; apparently a favourite of the friendly local taxi driver who took us up to our B&B!

The next day dawned sunny and clear as we left Warrenpoint Harbour on an almost flat calm sea.  Having been welcomed on the bridge of the MV Clipper Point by Captain Stuart McCallum, we recorded a small group of pale-bellied Brent Geese hanging out in the harbour and shortly afterwards a flock of Common Scoter heading rapidly across the mouth of the Lough.

Great Skua 2Some other highlights of the return journey were the two porpoises and single large grey seal that surfaced just ahead of us; the two migrant goldfinches that flitted across the bow; the large numbers of gulls, Gannets and the Great Skua which had homed in on a fishing boat just south of the Calf of Man; the Razorbills bobbing amongst the waves and the acrobatic Sandwich Tern on the approach to Heysham which caught a long silvery fish just in front of the ship, dropped and caught it again before heading off with a Common Tern in hot pursuit!

Our grateful thanks to all the staff and crew at Seatruck Ferries for all their assistance and hospitality which helped make this such an enjoyable and successful survey.


John Perry and Alison McAleer, Research Surveyors for MARINElife