MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Mersey' 30th September 2017

Peter Merry and Steve McAusland, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind W; Sea state Calm

Summary of Sightings

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Gannet Morus bassanus 53
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 273
Auk sp. 1
Tern sp. 2
Diver sp. 1

Terrestrial birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 6

Gannet Steve McAusland 07Arriving at the Stena Line terminal I met up with a fellow MARINElife volunteer Peter Merry and we soon boarded the Stena Mersey for our crossing to Belfast. Once on board we were met by the Captain who said he would send a crew member to collect us once all the manoeuvres were complete as the ship left its berth and headed out of the Mersey estuary towards the bay of Liverpool.

We set up to do our survey on the starboard wing of the bridge, which gave us a fabulous view. Our route would take us west towards the Isle of Man, passing its southern point and then on to Northern Ireland and to the port of Belfast.

The first Harbour Porpoise was spotted not long out from the estuary and we had two more off Chicken Rock the by Isle of Man.

Four Candles Steve McAuslandSadly, this survey did not produce any unusual birds, and we experienced a period of recording no birds for almost half an hour, which we found to be very unusual.

As the ship passed the western side of the Isle of Man we saw the four lighthouses that are lined up behind each other (Four Candles).

An hour out from Belfast the weather changed to almost flat sea and we had the one and only Black Guillemot of the day.

As the ship neared the port of Belfast, we concluded the survey and thanked the Captain and crew for supporting MARINElife and for the hospitality. Another survey completed on this route for me and I am looking forward to many more in the future.

Peter Merry and Steve MacAusland, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

The Four Candles, Calf of Man Photo: Steve McAusland
Gannet Photo: Steve McAusland