Sightings Archives: June 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Panorama & Pennant' 14-15 June 2012

Posted 17 June 2012

Rick Morris and Sharon Morris, MARINElife Research Surveyors 

Weather: Westbound, 4-6 ESE Eastbound, 4-6 NNE-NE

Cetaceans and Seals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 10
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 806+
Gannet Morus bassanus 82
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Little Gull Larus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 83
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 13
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 72+
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Gull Sp. 52+
Auk Sp. 1 

Terrestrial Birds:
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

After booking in at Seatruck's office we were quickly escorted to our vessel the 'MV Clipper Panorama' for the westbound crossing to Warrenpoint. We went straight to the bridge and Captain Richard Jamieson welcomed us on board as we prepared to slip our mooring. Conditions at sea were not favourable so no cetaceans were recorded although, talking to one of the bridge crew, a probable Minke whale was sighted around two weeks earlier. The rest of the crossing was punctuated with sightings of Gulls, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Fulmars and reasonably good numbers of Manx Shearwaters.
Black GuillemotEntering Carlingford Lough with the impressive Mourne Mountains as a back drop, we observed a lone Grey seal in the water and a few more on the shore along with 'Commic' Terns busily dipping into the sea to feed and Black Guillemots heading out to sea.
We said our farewells to the Captain and crew of the 'Panorama' and made our way to the shore office where the helpful staff arranged a taxi to take us to where we were staying overnight, a homely B&B in Rostrevor at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by a beautiful countryside.

The next morning, arriving at Warrenpoint in the rain, we checked in and were quickly taken to our eastbound vessel the 'MV Clipper Pennant'. Due to the recent storm, conditions in the lough were still challenging, so access to the bridge was allowed once we were out into the Irish Sea just before 09:00.
Juv-GannetNo cetaceans were seen on this eastbound leg, mainly due to a sea state of 6 for most of the way, with a mix of light and heavy rain showers, and although seabird numbers in general were down on the previous day, we still had consistent sightings of Manx Shearwaters until reaching the Isle of Man. The rest of the trip was spent recording small numbers of Gannets, Gulls and Auks, then as we were recording the 16:45 effort the weather deteriorated further and so it was decided to end the survey and head down for a lovely three course meal, thanking Captain Peter Hilbert as we left the bridge.

We would like to thank Seatruck for their continued support in our work and to both Captains and crews of the 'Panorama' and 'Pennant' for their helpfulness and interest in our research.

Rick Morris and Sharon Morris: Research Surveyors for MARINElife