MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Lagan' 28th March 2015

Stephen Dunstan - Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Conditions westbound: Winds SW4-7, cloudy with brief rain showers

Summary of sightings

Cetaceans and mammals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 31
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 66
Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 276
Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 24
Common Gull Larus Canus 8
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 19
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 41
Guillemot Uria aalge 13
Razorbill Alca torda 12
Gull sp. 53

With strong winds forecast in the lead up to the survey it was touch and go whether the survey would take place.  Late checks suggested that the initial strong gusts would subside somewhat and that it was worth a punt.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 03I was welcomed onto the bridge as the Stena Lagan left the Mersey river mouth.  Birds seen early in the survey included 250 Cormorant roosting on sandbanks and 24 Common Scoter presumably on the move from local feeding areas to breeding grounds.  Thereafter all the more expected seabirds were seen, though only one Manx Shearwater at this early stage in the season.

After passing the Isle of Man a small feeding flurry of seabirds was noted, and among them the head of a Grey Seal was seen briefly a couple of times.  Good numbers of Fulmar were noted as birds head north to nest, and the number of Gannet seen was enhanced by 35 birds feeding around a fishing vessel.

The light was fading as we entered Belfast Lough so I drew up stumps.  Whilst it was a fairly routine survey it was nevertheless very enjoyable, not least thanks to the excellent welcome afforded to me by the friendly Stena Lagan team.

Stephen Dunstan - Research Surveyor for MARINElife