MARINElife Survey Report: Hull to Zeebrugge Pride of York 18-20th May 2019

Mike Duckett; Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 4

Seabirds
Black Tern Chlidonias niger 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 6
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 8
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 10
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 29
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 42
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Larus sp. 74
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 33
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Wader sp. 12

It was my first time on this route and I am grateful the P & O crew made the experience so smooth. There was time before departure to freshen up and make use of the cosy cabin after several ragged days, although I found calculating the following morning's dawn hour was surprisingly hard with the change of time zones. Given permission to be on the bridge during the Humber stretch kept me busy with regular bird sightings. A range of gulls, Gannet, and just singles of Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill. As we moved past Spurn point I saw 4 Grey Seal in close succession with more likely around (mysterious seal-like disappearing shapes) . There were no cetaceans seen on this survey and the seals proved my only sea mammals.

Grey Seal Adrian Shephard 04

Grey Seal (Adrian Shephard)

The overnight crossing was smooth and I guesstimated dawn well enough for a view of the Belgian coast appearing, bringing with it a variety of seabirds as we approached the harbour. Gulls, Waders, Gannet and Terns.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 03

Sandwich Tern (Peter Howlett)

I enjoyed the complimentary coach into the historic town of Bruges, where I sketched some of the old streets, drank coffee and indulged mostly in people-watching.

Departure was prompt, and immediately on leaving the harbour brought a variety of seabird species hugging the coastline. The strangest of these is one I am still not quite sure how to judge. It was a dark tern amongst other terns and never having seen one before I was not sure how to name it: Black Tern was the closest by appearance.

The morning saw significant mist, with the Bridge officer advising me against surveying. By the time the mist lifted enough to see passing birds we were already in the Humber.

Michael Duckett, Research Surveyor for MARINElife