Sightings Archives: June 2014

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham–Warrenpoint 'Clipper Panorama’ and 'Clipper Pennant' 19th - 20th June 2014

Posted 28 June 2014

Nik Grounds and Ruth Crundwell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Westbound - Wind NNE 3 to N 7; Sea state 1-3; Swell 0-1; Visibility 4-6
Eastbound - Wind W 4; Sea state 1-3; Swell 0-1; Visibility 6


Cetaceans and Seals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5169
Gannet Morus bassanus 165
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 48
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 56       
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14    
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 16
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 327
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 28
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 24
Guillemot Uria aalge 82
Razorbill Alca torda 12
Unidentified gull sp. 1
Unidentified auk sp. 43

Other waterbirds recorded in Carlingford Lough:
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle
Shag Phalacrocorx aristotelis
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Gannet Morus bassanus
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

After check-in at the office we walked to the boat remarking on how good the weather was and hoped this would mean good cetacean spotting chances. We were welcomed aboard the Panorama and given breakfast, then taken up to the bridge and met the Captain and set up our position on the bridge.

Common tern 03 Graham EkinsLeaving Heysham port was relatively quiet except for observations of Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull but as the trip progressed we saw Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Fulmar, a large group of c.800 Manx Shearwater and 30 Common Scoter.  Viewing conditions were good for the whole trip and a constant NNE wind kept the clouds moving and the light good.
Fishing vessels on the Irish side drew large collections of birds at the end of the first day, and a beer in the sun looking out over the Lough made a pleasant end to the day.  We won't mention the football result!

The next morning was clear and calm and we were greeted warmly on board the Pennant where we had the usual great breakfast.  Making our way to the bridge we met the Captain and bridge crew, one of whom is usually based in the far north of Scotland and regularly observes dolphins and some whale species, with Orca being on his wish list, as well as mine!

As we travelled down the Lough numbers of Black Guillemot, Shag, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Oystercatcher where noted close to entrance.  Although the wind picked up slightly when we left the Lough we still we had high hopes of cetaceans as the weather was calm and clear.  A raft of 3-4000 Manx Shearwater, mixed with Gannet and Kittiwake was an impressive sight not far out of Warrenpoint.  As we were watching these birds circling and diving, four Common Dolphin came in and started bow riding.  Keeping the binoculars on them we saw them feeding and occasionally breaching well out of the water, amongst the still feeding Gannet.  What a great sight!  

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 01Later as we were passing the Isle of Man Harbour Porpoise were observed on three separate occasions as the sea and light conditions remained excellent.  A single Grey Seal completed the marine mammal count.

Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake were again observed, including a number of juvenile birds.  The weather remained good with the sea state remaining at 2-3 and few clouds which gave great viewing conditions.  No further cetaceans were observed but we were happy with our results as we docked at Heysham.
Our thanks go to the Captains and crew of both vessels for all their help and attention.  

Nik Grounds and Ruth Crundwell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife