MARINElife Survey Report: P&O Ferries ‘European Endeavour’ Dublin-Liverpool 21 November 2016

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather cloudy, wind NNE force 5-10, occasional heavy rain.

Seabirds
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 41
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 940
Common Gull Larus canus 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 78
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1

Terrestrial birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 7

I arrived at the port Monday lunchtime and was quickly able to board the European Endeavour, park my car and collect my cabin key from the information desk. Having settled in, I returned to the information desk, noticing the beautifully decorated Christmas tree that had been put up that day, and met up with Captain Phil Hill to discuss the short survey time I would have on the 3 pm crossing this month.

My survey would only be for around an hour, enabling me to record the birds in the mouth of the River Liffey and the first 10 miles of the Irish Sea.

Whilst waiting for the ship to depart I made a casual observation of the harbour. Some Light-bellied Brent Geese were circling the harbour, many juvenile Herring Gull and adult Black-headed Gull were sitting on the water. A few Hooded Crow were also flying around prior to the survey beginning. There was no sign of my favourite bird, the Black Guillemot, that nest in crevices in the harbour walls during the summer months.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 01

Herring Gull (Graham Ekins)

On beginning the survey the ship edged out into the River Liffey. Several Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull and Common Gull were seen as the ship passed the container port located on the South Wall. Ten minutes later the ship passed the Poolbeg Power Station. Here an outfall was attracting around 800 Black-headed Gull that were constantly moving around the area, flying or resting in the water.

A couple of minutes later, European Shag were seen resting on one of the concrete jetties. The tide was rising and the North Bull Wall of the harbour was partially covered as we proceeded through the harbour entrance into the Irish Sea. The birds were limited to Herring Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull until a solitary Kittiwake was recorded as the light faded bringing an end to my survey.

Kittiwake Adrian Shephard 06

Kittiwake (Adrian Shephard)

I retired to my cabin until the vessel approached Gladstone Lock and watched from the window as the Captain and his Officers reversed the ship into the dock and moored alongside.

My thanks go to Captain Phil Hill, his officers and crew and to P&O Ferries for allowing us to survey on this route.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife