Sightings Archives: September 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Lagan' 28th September 2013

Posted 02 October 2013

John Perry and Jan Ozyer; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Partial cloud, wind light 4-5 predominantly from the SE.  No precipitation.

Summary of Sightings:

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 10   
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis  30
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet  Morus bassanus 91
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 61
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 11
Common Gull  Larus canus 16
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 33
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Little Gull Larus minutes 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla  5
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 12
Guillemot Uria aalge 214
Razorbill   Alca torda 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 2
Swallow Hirundo rustica 8
Yellowhammer Emberiza citronella 1

Gannet 13a Carol Farmer WrightSaturday morning was dry and although low cloud restricted the view of the horizon the sea state was quite moderate with only a gentle swell, giving good conditions for our survey to Belfast.  Our tickets were rapidly issued by the efficient Stena Line staff and we were quickly bussed onboard the "Stena Lagan", where we were shown to our cabins and then met by Captain Tulio Scocchi who welcomed us on board and explained that we would be invited to the Bridge as soon as embarkation manoeuvres were completed.

Setting up our work station on the starboard side of the bridge, we had excellent views of Crosby beach with its famous Gormley figures.  As we travelled down the estuary, we were followed by the usual flocks of Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and Herring Gull and on every marker buoy we encountered Cormorant as well as a few Lesser Black-backed Gull.  A flock of Common Scoter flew in front of the ship as we approached the Mersey Bar and we noticed Swallow flying over us.

We began to see more and more Gannet and Guillemot as we headed towards the Isle of Man, all the Gannet in adult plumage and most of the Guillemot already in winter plumage.  Bizarrely, a Yellowhammer flew alongside us for a short while as well as more Swallow.

Little GullsFulmar began to appear between the Isle of Man and the Irish coast as well as a charming group of Little Gull daintily feeding. We also had a solitary Manx Shearwater at the same spot.

The strong evening sun was making identification difficult as we entered Belfast Lough and we closed the survey 20 minutes before the ship began making its way to its berth.  After thanking the Captain and officers for their hospitality, we enjoyed an excellent evening meal in the Mess.

The evening was spent writing up notes and collating data in the comfortable Passenger Lounge before we headed for our cabins and an excellent night's sleep as the ship returned to Liverpool.

John Perry and Jan Ozyer; Research Surveyors for MARINElife