Sightings Archives: December 2014

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham–Warrenpoint 'Clipper Pennant' 18 December 2014

Posted 21 December 2014

Rob Petley-Jones and Alison McAleer, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions: Wind NW Force 6-8; Swell 0-3; Visibility 3-5


Cetaceans and Seals:
Dolphin sp. 8
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 2
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 7
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16  
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1    
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 48
Gull sp. 11
Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Razorbill Alca torda 14
Auk sp.    68

Other waterbirds recorded in Carlingford Lough:
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 300

Little Gull Peter Howlett 05It was still dark as the Clipper Pennant left Heysham port so we did not get to our survey location on the bridge until the ship was well out from the harbour, but there was a warm welcome as ever from Captain Colin Batty.

The sea was already lively as we progressed down the Lune Deep, and wind conditions steadily strengthened as we crossed south of the Barrow wind farms toward the Isle of Man.    Conditions remained challenging for wildlife watching throughout the whole run, and our expectations for cetacean sightings were not high.

There was surprisingly low bird activity throughout the crossing and very low numbers of Gannet, Fulmar, Razorbill and Guillemot were recorded.  The highlights were a group Great Crested Grebe in the Lune Deep and a group of Little Gull near the Isle of Man.  

BH Gull Rob Petley-Jones 01We were rewarded with at least one cetacean sighting when Alison was fortunate enough to get a very brief glimpse of two dolphins as they surfaced in the rough sea.  

Two Great Northern Diver and a Red-throated Diver near the Carlinford Lough lighthouse provided a satisfying last record for the crossing, before we had to stop due to failing light.  A last flurry of activity occurred as we docked at Warrenpoint where a large number of Black-headed Gull circled the ship as it maneuvered to its berth.

No survey was possible on the following day.

Thanks as ever to the Seatruck staff for their hospitality and friendly welcome.

Rob Petley-Jones and Alison McAleer, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Photo credits:
Little Gull - Peter Howlett
Black-headed Gull - Rob Petley-Jones