Stephen Dunstan and Steve MacAusland, Research Surveyors for
Weather: Wind S force 2-5
Summary of Species
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 41
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 171
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 39
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 12
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 71
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Large gull sp. 10
Auk sp. 4
Tern sp. 4
Unusually for this route we departed late Saturday evening, so there was no surveying on the outward leg, and we retired to our appointed cabins to get some rest.
On Sunday morning following breakfast in the passenger restaurant we joined the crew on the bridge just at the Stena Mersey was beginning to depart Belfast harbour. A couple of Black Guillemot were seen as well as the only Eider of the trip. Many of these sea ducks winter in Belfast Lough, but numbers are lower at this time of year as they breed elsewhere.
The period at sea passing the Isle of Man to the east saw us recording all of the expected seabirds, including Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill, though we did only see one of the latter. We also saw a few terns, but the hoped for skuas never materialised.
It was looking like we were going to draw a blank on cetaceans, but as we neared Liverpool a pod of at least three Harbour Porpoise were seen well ahead of us. The survey was further enhanced by sightings of three separate Grey Seals.
Approaching Liverpool a couple more Common Tern were added to the tallies, presumably birds on feeding forays from the colony at Seaforth Dock. All in all we had a very enjoyable survey and are grateful to the crew of the Stena Mersey and port staff at Birkinhead for accommodating us during a very busy weekend for them.
Stephen Dunstan and Steve MacAusland, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Black Guillemot Photo: Peter Howlett
Common Tern Photo: Peter Howlett