Sightings Archives: February 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Feronia' 25 - 26 February 2012

Posted 28 February 2012

David McGrath and John Perry Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: 0-2

Cetacea / Sea Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocena phocena 2


Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 50
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 122
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 13
Common Gull Larus canus 79
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 72
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 11
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Little Gull Larus minutus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 30
Guillemot Uria aalge 7
Razorbill Alca torda 43
Unidentified auk sp 6
Unidentified large gull sp 2
Unidentified small gull sp 1

Captain Haywood and his crew welcomed us onto the bridge of the Stena Feronia where we took up position on the starboard side from where whilst waiting to depart, we had a fantastic view of Liverpool's Three Graces across the river.

CormorantCounting the Cormorants and Herring Gulls on the buoys marking our route out of the Mersey kept us on our toes. As we exited the river mouth Captain Haywood told us to look to the port side where at low tide earlier in the week he had seen seals hauled out on the sandbank. Today, the time and tide hadn't waited for us and the seals were nowhere to be seen.

The end of the river channel is marked by the Mersey Bar Light Vessel, where at least 45 Cormorants sat. From here, we headed out into the Irish Sea under grey skies which, combined with the light wind, gave excellent shadow-free viewing conditions.

We soon came across small flocks of Kittiwakes, a couple of which also held diminutive Little Gulls. Given the large numbers of Common Scoters currently off the Blackpool coast it was somewhat surprising we only saw one in this part of the voyage.

With the light now fading fast as we neared our destination one of the crew came over to tell us he'd just seen a Harbour Porpoise from the opposite side of the bridge. Our final sighting was of a small flock of auks but it was now too dark to identify which species so we ended the survey and went to enjoy a well-earned and friendly dinner in the Officers' Mess.

Once again our thanks go to Captain Haywood, the staff and crew of the Stena Feronia who made this an enjoyable crossing.

David McGrath and John Perry Research Surveyor for MARINElife