MARINElife Survey Report: Hull-Zeebrugge 'P&O Ferries Pride of Bruges' 14-16 June 2014

Janet Shepherd and Abigail Bruce; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Winds were Force 4 from the NW on day 1, strengthening to Force 5 on day 2. On day 3 winds were more northerly and again Force 5. Sea state was generally 3 and visibility good

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 12
Gannet Morus bassanus 10
Great Skua Stecorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 121
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 31
'Commic' Tern  Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Razorbill Alca torda 4

Terrestrial Birds
Grey heron Ardea cinerea 2
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 11
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 50

We arrived early at the Hull terminal for the P&O ferry to Zeebrugge. The Check-in staff made us feel very welcome and we found our way on to the excellent Pride of Bruges, our cabins and dinner. OBS Manager, Erik Lindholm, was very helpful in organising our visits to the Bridge at convenient times for everyone.

Gull ChicksAs we left Hull we undertook a casual survey from the 'Quiet Room' and saw a number of gull species, including Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed, and a Harbour Porpoise (plus three plastic owls on a marine buoy!). An hour on the bridge, where we were introduced to the Master, Fred Jonkman, resulted in a few more sightings.

The following day, we awoke for an early start at 5am, as we approached the Belgian coast. We recorded a number of sea birds including Lesser Black-backed Gull, Fulmar and Gannet and were pleased to see Great Skua and two Grey Heron. On our entry into the buoyed channel at Zeebrugge we encountered two Harbour Porpoise and many Common Tern. We particularly appreciated seeing gull chicks on the pillar directly below the starboard wing of the ship as the Captain skilfully brought the ship alongside in Zeebrugge.

Gull Chicks (Abigail Bruce)

LBBG Abi BruceWe docked in Zeebrugge and enjoyed a lovely day in Bruges, with a canal trip, waffles and chocolate.  We departed Zeebrugge with a number of sightings of Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Gannet before retiring for the night.

Another early start on Monday morning and we encountered, amongst others, Guillemot, a flock of Shelduck and Kittiwake. On the approaches to the Humber there was a sighting of a Grey Seal, 'bottling', as we passed.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Abigail Bruce)

Special thanks to Captain Fred Jonkman and his crew for being so hospitable, friendly, informed (and for keeping us alert with many cups of coffee!). We had a very enjoyable experience on the 'Pride of Bruges' and would like to thank P&O for their support for this survey.

Janet Shepherd and Abigail Bruce; Research Surveyors for MARINElife