John Perry & Jan Ozyer, Research Surveyors for MARINElife,
(Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Weather: Wind N Force 3, good visibility and calm seas on both crossings.
We arrived at the port in good time and were swiftly on board The Pride of Bruges and met by the Customer Services Manager who, recognising the shirts, immediately made arrangements for us to enter the bridge as soon as the ship left the lock.
The sea was flat and calm with good visibility, and as the ship made its way out of the Humber and passed Spurn, we were accompanied by small numbers of mixed gulls until we reached the open sea. Bird activity was almost exclusively gulls until the light became too poor to identify things. At this point it was time to leave the bridge to enjoy an excellent meal in the ship's restaurant before retiring to our comfortable cabins for a good night's sleep.
We were back on the bridge at 07:00 with the weather still calm although with more cloud cover than the previous evening. We were greeted with a view of an Arctic Skua flying under the ship's bow and as we approached Zeebrugge, we were met with the usual small mixed flocks of gulls and cormorants as well as a small skein of Brent Goose making their way along the coastline.
Arctic Skua (Mike Bamford)
After a good breakfast, we joined the other foot passengers on the coach trip to Bruges. What a lovely city! We both had a very pleasant day admiring the beautiful old buildings, excellent street cafes and shops and even found time to visit a Salvador Dali exhibition. Before returning to the coach we succumbed to the temptation of buying some excellent Bruges chocolates to take home to our respective families.
Back on the ship we headed for the bridge and watched until the light disappeared. Once again, the birds were mainly gulls but we were fortunate enough to see two species of Skua very close to the ship. The first sighting was of two Arctic Skua, one of which demonstrated its other name of Parasitic Skua by chasing a juvenile Herring Gull until it dropped its catch. The second sighting was of two Great Skua steadily making their way low over the waves.
Great Skua (Peter Howlett)
After another fine meal and peaceful night we returned to the bridge at 07:00 by which time the ship was just entering the Humber Channel. Our return to Hull was heralded by small groups of gulls and a couple of Mallard.
The ship docked on time and we said our thanks and goodbyes to Captain Roland Maes and his friendly crew for a very pleasant and enjoyable survey.