Stephen Dunstan and Emma Bateman, Research Surveyors
Conditions: Westbound - SE 3-8 Eastbound - SE 8-9
Summary of Species Recorded
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 6
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 5
Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 22
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 40
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 320
Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Common Gull Larus canus 34
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 78
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Unidentified large gull sp. 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 40
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 54
Razorbill Alca torda 69
Unidentified auk sp 25
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 7
Shorebirds seen during
survey effort (feeding on
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Knot Calidris canutus 2000
Other waterbirds recorded in
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Curlew Numenius arquata
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
We arrived at a calm Heysham and following a smooth check in and welcome breakfast were welcomed to the bridge of the Anglia Seaways. As we left the harbour behind us large numbers of Knot were seen on the exposed sands.
The initially benign conditions led to hope of Harbour Porpoise and sure enough at least one was seen breaching several times. The crew saw a dolphin or porpoise before another definite Harbour Porpoise was seen. Eider and Common Scoter were also seen at this time.
For the remainder of the day the expected seabirds were added including Puffin which is scarce in winter. Hopes of any further cetaceans were however dashed by a south-east gale that made it a rough crossing.
On the return leg we were welcomed aboard the Seatruck Panorama, a more familiar vessel on this run. Day 2 saw a continuation of the south-east gale and on our return route we were heading into the teeth of this. When the gale reached force 9, verging on Force 10, and combined with driving snow blizzards and a big swell, we drew a halt to proceedings.
There were highlights before this though, particularly the five Great Northern Diver as we left the harbour at Warrenpoint. This handsome brute of a seabird is becoming something of a signature species on this route in winter.
As we entered Morecambe Bay the impact of the south easterly gales abated and we were able to enjoy an excellent evening meal, before disembarking and making our way to Blackpool and London respectively through the snow.
Thanks to Seatruck for their excellent hospitality on this survey.
Stephen Dunstan and Emma Bateman, Research Surveyors for MARINElife