MARINElife Survey Report: Hull-Zeebrugge 'P&O Ferries Pride of Bruges' 13 - 15 July 2013

Nik Grounds and Jon Butterfield; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Winds: Westbound: ESE 0 to 2 Eastbound: NE 0 to 2. Calm seas and good light.

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19

Gannet Morus bassanus 19
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 30
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 6
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 12
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 12
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 92
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 47
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Unidentified auk sp 32
Unidentified gull sp 352

Terrestrial birds:
Feral / Racing Pigeon Columba livia 1
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 19
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 4
Unidentified duck sp 1
Curlew Numenius arquatus 1

Harbour Porp by GEAfter a smooth transition through the ferry terminal, we boarded the impressive "Pride of Bruges". A quick stop off at the splendid onboard restaurant and we off to the bridge to meet Captain Arie Kanneworff, conditions were foggy and visibility down to 200m as we began surveying just after Spurn Point and fog persisted until we left the bridge around 10pm.

The following morning we woke too much improved sea conditions, extremely calm and good light and we were rewarded with views of nine Harbour Porpoise on the outward-bound journey. Other highlights also included Common, Arctic and Sandwich Tern that were feeding very successfully close to the Zeebrugge harbour and a flock of Common Scoter flying in formation northwards.

Harbour Porpoise (Graham Ekins)

We docked in Zeebrugge and left the ship for the day, enjoying the culture and magnificent gothic architecture in Bruges before re-boarding for the early evening return journey. As the evening sun lit up the tranquil North Sea many more Harbour Porpoise were seen, several of which were juvenile or calves. A Belgian pigeon decided to hitch a ride on the ship with us back to Hull, particularly after a Great Skua flew passed hunting for an evening meal. Lesser Black-backed Gull were also recorded in large numbers.

Kittiwake 03 Graham EkinsWe awoke early on Monday to survey the approaches to Spurn Point; where we encountered our first Kittiwake of the trip. Once into the River Humber our stowaway pigeon, did a once around the ferry to stretch its wings and flew south, presumably to meet relatives.   

As we left the bridge, we thanked the Captain and his officers for their kindness and friendliness during the survey on the excellent "Pride of Bruges".

Kittiwake (Graham Ekins) 

We would like to thank P&O for their support for this survey. 

Nik Grounds and Jon Butterfield; Research Surveyors for MARINElife