MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Mersey' 15th June 2019

Steve McAusland, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Sea State: 1-3; Swell: 0; Wind Force: 2-4; occasional light rain.

Summary of Sightings

Seabirds
Eider Somateria mollissima 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 42
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 159
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
'Commic' Tern' Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 6
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 38
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Gull sp. 1

Gannet Steve McAusland 08This was my first survey in a while, on this my favourite survey route. I arrived at the Stena Line Port in Birkenhead and was promptly issued my boarding card in readiness for being transferred to the ferry "Stena Mersey". Once on board I was advised by Taylor in reception that the ship would be leaving a little later than scheduled, so I made my way to the News area and started preparing all of my data recording forms.

As the ship left its berth, we were soon under way along the river Mersey heading out into Liverpool Bay. As the ship passed Crosby beach, the Anthony Gormley statues could be seen standing proud along the long beach. Then, as we passed Formby beach and out in to the bay, Blackpool tower was clearly visible in the distance.

It was then that I was allowed to go up to the bridge to get ready to start my survey. Daniel, the ship's first mate, welcomed me and loaded all the information to the starboard wings desk and monitor.

Sadly, no cetaceans or seals were seen on this survey, but there were plenty of sea birds to look out for! Our route took the ship north-west past the Isle of Man and as we passed the Calf of Man the sea's currents could be seen in the waves rushing westwards.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 01The highest count of birds was for Manx Shearwater, which return to the UK to breed before returning to winter in the South Atlantic in the autumn, a journey of nearly 8000 miles!

As the coast of Northern Ireland came in to view on the port side so did the coast of Scotland on the starboard side. An hour out from Belfast Lough the sea went to almost flat calm, and here I got my first views of Black Guillemot and Eider to finish another enjoyable survey.

The crew were as always fantastic and very interested in MARINElife's work, and I thanked Captain Paula Fresca and Neil Whittaker for continuing to support our survey work.

Steve McAusland, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Gannet Photo: Steve McAusland
Manx Shearwater Photo: Steve McAusland