Kevin Waterfall and Catie Haworth, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Outbound:Wind W; Sea state 8: Visibility good; Precipitation light rain at times
Summary of Sightings:
Cetaceans and Seals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 10
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 21
Gannet Morus bassanus 5
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 7
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 107
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5
Curlew Numenius arquata 14
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 54
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 253
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 17
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 21
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Razorbill Alca torda 16
Gull sp. 59
Auk sp. 20
Leaving Heysham we saw a group of Scaup by the wooden structures of the harbour entrance, along with a collection of gulls, mostly Black-headed Gull. The bridge on Seatruck Performance is spacious and has excellent forward and sideways visibility and good window wipers for when there are rain showers! Departure was prompt and after a good breakfast we were welcomed onto the bridge by Captain Tim Broughton.
The seas were quite heavy in the first couple of hours, but the ship was steady so we could still observe easily. The weather cleared and we had good views of the windfarms and gas platforms of Morecombe Bay, and of the Isle of Man as we passed to the south. However, the winds remained strong and the numbers of sea birds was restricted to those with excellent flight skills like Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake and Gannet.
On the way into Carlingford Lough the Grey Seal were lying on the rocks near the lighthouse as well as a large number of gulls, Cormorant and even a flock of Curlew. We didn't see any other cetaceans on the crossing though dolphins are frequently seen on this route.
Amongst the auks we still saw a few Puffin in winter plumage, and a number of Hooded Crow were along the shoreline of the lough as we headed up to Warrenpoint. With it being February, we found that the light faded at about 4.30pm so we retired to the comfortable passenger lounge where an evening meal was served.
We wish to thank Captain Tim Broughton and the ship's officers and crew for their helpful and professional support during the surveys.
Black-headed Gull (Rob Petley-Jones)
Fulmar (Rob Petley-Jones)