Sightings Archives: July 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Warrenpoint 'MV Clipper Pace & Panorama' 19-20 July 2012

Posted 24 July 2012

Stephen Dunstan and Nick Grounds, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Winds light and variable

Cetaceans and mammals:
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis  1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 39
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 86

Birds seen at sea:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra  1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata  1
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer  1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis  22
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus  966
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus  1
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus  8
Gannet Morus bassanus  203
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo  13
Shag Phalacrocorx aristotelis  1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus  1
Curlew Numenius arquata  3
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus  1
Unidentified Wader sp 2
Great Skua Stercoarius skua  4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus  6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus  16
Unidentified Large gull sp 100
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla  57
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis  5
Puffin Fratercula arctica  18
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle  10
Guillemot Uria aalge  895
Razorbill Alca torda  12
Unidentified auk sp 22
Swift Apus apus  1

Waterbirds in Carlingford Lough:
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 115
Shag Phalacrocorx aristotelis 150
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea  5
Greenshank Tring nebularia  1
Redshank Tringa totanus  1
Curlew Numenius arquata 5
Common Gull Larus canus  40
Black-headed Gull Larus ribundus  100
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus  10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Common Tern Sterna hirundo  20
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle  30

We arrived in good time and having checked in were able to use the comfortable waiting area at the Seatruck offices.  Following an efficient transfer to the Seatruck Pace and a welcome breakfast we started recording as we left the harbour at Heysham late morning in excellent visibility and with a calm sea.

CD 1Morecambe Bay was rather quiet but Nick did spot a Harbour Porpoise off Knott End which was encouraging.  Through the Lune Deeps we recorded the first of many Guillemots with dependent juveniles - clearly they had a decent breeding season somewhere not too far away.
We briefly thought we had a Storm Petrel which turned out to be a migrating Green Sandpiper low over the sea.  Soon after though we had a 'real' Storm Petrel and also a Common Dolphin and it was increasingly clear the good conditions were going to deliver.

As we approached Carlingford Lough we saw several different pods of Harbour Porpoises.  Capping off an excellent outward leg singles of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver flew past the boat, unusual in July but reflecting records elsewhere in Britain and Ireland.  In the Lough itself 85 Grey Seals were seen hauled out on the sandbanks.

Joining the Seatruck Panorama on 20 July, we were welcomed by crew we had met on previous surveys.  The return journey began in equally good conditions and the team was optimistic.  Manx Shearwaters were recorded almost continuously from the outset and three Great Skuas added to the variety.  We picked out several more Storm Petrels, the calm conditions certainly helped in seeing these. 

Balearic Shear 5Several Puffins were noted as we passed the Isle of Man, and soon after this the bird highlight of the trip came in the form a Balearic Shearwater.  With records as far north as Durham this year this wasn't totally unexpected but they remain a good bird to see in the Irish Sea and we were delighted.

In flat calm seas off the Fylde coast we saw several more Harbour Porpoises and at least 250 Guillemots, including more dependent juveniles.  Having traversed Morecambe Bay we thanked the crew for their hospitality and reflected on a very successful trip.

Stephen Dunstan and Nick Grounds, Research Surveyors for MARINElife