Sightings Archives: August 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Mersey' 25-26 August 2012

Posted 29 August 2012

Stephen Dunstan and Maria Smithies, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Cetaceans and Seals:
Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Unidentified Seal Sp. 19

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 29
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 312
Gannet Morus bassanus 212
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 118
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 219
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 36
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 29
Guillemot Uria aalge 132
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Dunlin Calidris alpine 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Sanderling Calidris alba 4
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 11
Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Redshank Tringa tetanus 1
Unidentified Gull Sp. 140
Unidentified Tern Sp. 30 

Terrestrial Birds:
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2

This was my first survey with MARINElife and was absolutely wonderful. After being welcomed onto the bridge by the crew we set to work.  We started off in the harbour with Stephen pointing out a few birds, explaining some identification features and showing me some examples of birds we may see on this survey from an excellent book he brought along.

BH Gull 1Once we departed my training continued in full swing as we started seeing Black-Headed Gulls and Herring Gulls, Common Terns, Cormorants, Oyster Catchers and even a Dunlin.  Then as we got to the mouth of the harbour we were very excited to see a group of around 12 seals resting on a sandbank.  Soon after this we came across another couple of seals on a sandbank, a single seal in the water followed by an equally exciting couple of Porpoise leisurely surfacing.

Once we got further from land we saw a variety of different sea birds including many Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls, Manx Shearwaters and Guillemot.  About half way across we also came across four Sanderlings and excitingly an Arctic Skua.

Towards the end of the survey we were rewarded with the sight of another marine mammal this time a dolphin, most likely a Common Dolphin.  Following this sighting things got very busy, we saw around 140 gull sp., 220 Manx Shearwater and even a Razorbill.  As we got very close to Belfast we were greeted with a group of around 145 Lesser Black Backed Gulls, a few Common Terns, Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls.

Once again our thanks go to the staff and crew of the Stena Mersey who made this a very enjoyable crossing and for me an excellent first experience.

Stephen Dunstan and Maria Smithies, Research Surveyors for MARINElife