MARINElife blog: Seatruck Ferries ‘Clipper Pennant’ & ‘Clipper Panorama’ Heysham-Warrenpoint 12-13 April 2018

Nik Grounds, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Outbound: Wind force 2-3 ENE; cloudy.
Return : Wind force 2-3 ESE; cloudy with poor visibility.

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 9
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 10
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 10
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 38
Gannet Morus bassanus 41
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3

Little Gull Hydrocoleus minutus 7
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 64
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 8
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 141
Razorbill Alca torda 68

Terrestrial Birds:
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 2
Rook Corvus frugilegus 2
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 5
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla 1
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Passerine sp. 12

I was welcomed onboard the Clipper Pennant at Heysham and enjoyed a cooked breakfast before being shown to the bridge after we exited the harbour.

The first leg of the survey was quite quiet, with birds seen singly or in very small groups.  These were mainly Guillemot, Gannet, Kittiwake and a variety of gulls with a few Razorbill and Fulmar.  The highlight was a pair of Puffin resting on the water near the Lune Deep.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 01Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal were also seen in this area, and south of the Calf of Man I spotted a group of four Common Dolphin going across the path of the vessel. Several passerine species were also seen flying around the ship and I was able to identify a male Blackcap which rested on the bridge and a female Wheatear flying over the sea.

GN Diver Peter Howlett 03After a comfortable night in Warrenpoint, I enjoyed the short walk to Warrenpoint Harbour and boarded the Seatruck Panorama for the return. The weather was again cloudy and overcast with a light wind. On leaving Carlingford Lough, a total of nine Great-Northern Diver were seen, including two in summer plumage.

At times, the sea state was nearly mirror calm, so I was hopefully that the conditions might result in increased cetacean sightings. Again, as we passed the Isle of Man I picked up another group of Common Dolphin.

Little Gull Peter Howlett 11A further three Harbour Porpoise were seen as we reached the Lune Deep, along with a small group of Little Gull, giving close views and good opportunity to note the key features.  A group of Sandwich Tern were also seen, resting on a buoy in Morecambe Bay as we approached Heysham.

Many thanks as ever to the Captains and crews of the Clipper Pennant and Seatruck Panorama for making me welcome aboard their ships.


Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)
Great Northern Diver (Peter Howlett)
Little Gull (Little Gull)