Kevin Waterfall and Peter Crossley, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Westbound: Visibility good; Sea State 5-7; Wind SW Force 5-7
Eastbound: Visibility good; Sea State 4-5; Wind W Force 4-5; some glare to starboard
Summary of Sightings:
Cetaceans and Seals:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 29
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 17
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 194
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 8
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 42
Common Gull Larus canus 107
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 98
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 34
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 60
Puffin Fratercula arctica 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 26
Razorbill Alca torda 61
Gull Species 156
Auk Species 37
Shearwater Species 2
Tern Species 1
Leaving Heysham we saw a number of Wigeon and Oystercatcher along the shoreline plus a varied collection of gulls and Cormorant before going up to the bridge. These two new vessels are spacious on the bridge and have excellent forward and sideways visibility.
Departure was prompt on both days, and after leaving the harbour we were taken up to the bridge by the steward, where we were welcomed by the captains Tony Tuuling on the first day and Steve Cheeseman on the return trip.
On the return journey we were advised where to look out for the numbers of Grey Seal on outlying rocks near the lighthouse in Carlingford Lough and sure enough there they were, all twenty-nine of them. We were also fortunate to spot a few cetaceans, though only for brief periods but had clear sightings of some Bottlenose Dolphin when they leapt out of the water.
There were no unexpected bird species though a few Puffin seemed to have stayed in the area and it was good to see the Great Skua.
There were large numbers of Cormorant and gulls sitting on the old wooden structures and the rocks as we left Carlingford Lough and several Hooded Crow along the shoreline.
With it being November, we found that the light faded at about 4pm and so we retired to the comfortable passenger lounge where an evening meal was served.
We wish to thank both captains and crews for their helpful and professional support during the surveys.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Carol Farmer-Wright)
Kittiwake (Rob Petley-Jones)