MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham–Warrenpoint 'Seatruck Pace’ and ‘Anglia Seaways’ 13th-14th December 2012

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
:        Westbound - SE 4-5        Eastbound - E 8-9 decreasing 5-6 - continuous rain

Summary of Species Recorded

Grey seal Halichoerus grypus 6

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 16
Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 65
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 15
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Common Gull Larus canus 141
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Unidentified large gull sp. 291
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 54
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 153
Razorbill Alca torda 30
Unidentified auk sp 37

Terrestrial birds
Little Egret Egretta garzetta  1
Blackbird Turdus merrula 1

Fortunately we checked the day before to find that because of fog the sailing schedules were a little behind. After check-in and boarding we enjoyed a good breakfast on the Seatruck Pace and were escorted onto the bridge where we were introduced to Captain Andy Bradbury. While we waited to leave port we enjoyed watching 3 adult Mediterranean Gull fly round the ship.


We departed at 10:40 with relatively calm seas and plenty of gulls. Within half an hour the ship flushed a Red-throated Diver in front of us and 13 Common Scoter flew across our bows. A single female Blackbird briefly landed on the bridge hand rail and there were small parties of Guillemot and Razorbill.  Singles of Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull were also noted.

A couple of hours into the survey a dark shape breaking the surface near to the bow of a ship turned out to be a Grey Seal.  A small sprinkling of adult Kittiwake were seen throughout the survey while a single Puffin was noted after the Calf of Man, and it was there were saw our first Fulmar.  The onset of darkness curtailed the survey at 16:20 and we were treated to a good meal before we disembarked.

The following morning we were greeted with torrential rain while we had breakfast at our Bed and Breakfast, and after a damp check-in we were shown on board the Anglia Seaways captained by Orpheus Kekus.

With gale force easterly winds and driving rain Carlingford Lough was full to overflowing.  We departed at 10:40 and noted 7 Black Guillemot with surprisingly one bird still in summer plumage.  A fine pair of Red-breasted Merganser was also noted in the Lough with a Little Egret flying across our bows.  Even the waters in the Lough were choppy and by the time we entered open water we were having spray from some of the large waves coming over the bridge, so these were not conditions conducive to good survey work!

Black guillemot

Small numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake were noted during the course of the day and an adult Little Gull was noted east of the Isle of Man and just before dusk, when the survey was ended at 16:13.  The two days turned up some interesting records despite the weather and restricted daylight hours. Many thanks once again to the friendly crews on both our sailings.

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife