Vince Green and Karen Francis; Research Surveyors
Weather: N 1-3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 57
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 65
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 229
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 70
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 70
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 74
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Gull sp. 159
Tern sp. 41
Duck sp. 13
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
On arrival at hull port the weather was looking fairly good with a slight breeze and once on board the Pride of Bruges, we had dinner and were escorted up to the bridge. Met by Captain Roland Maes and his crew, we were greeted with coffee and were put at ease ready to start our four part survey.
Herring Gull (Vince Green)
Bird sightings at first were mostly Black-back Gull, Herring Gull and occasional Gannet with a sea state that was fair. We managed to a good number of birds in the time we had which great.
We were up at 5.30am Belgium time to start on the bridge the next morning, after a coffee, we started and as light was approaching we started to see Gannet and Lesser Black-back and Herring Gull, and surprisingly a Grey Heron a fair way off shore which leisurely flew past the bridge heading East.
We saw a lot of Common Tern and plenty of Kittiwake also. On the way in to the port of Zeebrugge, we also saw some Oystercatcher and several other waders.
After breakfast we grabbed our binoculars and headed in to Bruges for the day, soaking in some sunshine, and managed to walk 20,000 steps around the lovely City, we saw a juvenile European Shag above the canal resting, and also Black Cap perched on a tree singing away. We relaxed for an hour or two looking around the flea markets and some Canal Boats.
Tulips (Vince Green)
Back on board and on the bridge just after 7 pm it was exciting as we had calm seas. A slow start, but then near the turbines not too far off the Belgian coast we saw Gannet and gulls feeding and diving , which was a great display with an abundance of sea birds.
Within twenty minutes to half an hour, off the starboard side in clear light we had the pleasure of seeing both Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin only 100 to 700 metres from the ship.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)
That really did end the night in a spectacular and unexpected way, although not a lot of seabirds were around at that time.
In the Morning back to Hull on the final part of the survey we were on the bridge by 6am and saw various birds again, the sea state was moderate and we finished off the survey seeing plenty of juvenile gulls.
A big thank you again to the Captain and all of the crew for their hospitality as always it was a brilliant trip, and really pleasing to see both Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin in the North Sea.
Vince Green and Karen Frances; Research Surveyors for MARINElife