Sightings Archives: July 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Hafnia Seaways’ Immingham - Cuxhaven 20 – 22 July 2012

Posted 01 August 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright and Chery Leaning; Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: Day one, NNE-N 1-5 Day 2, WNW 4-5. Westbound: WSW-S 4-8

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 3
Common Seal 3
Unidentified Seal Sp. 9

Fulmar 1389
Sooty Shearwater 2
Gannet 388
Cormorant 32
Common Scoter 81
Velvet Scoter 5
Great Skua 3
Black-headed Gull 67
Common Gull 2
Herring Gull 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull 310
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Kittiwake 453
Little Tern 2
Sandwich Tern 54
Common Tern 42
Commic Tern 2
Unidentified Tern Sp. 27
Guillemot 482
Brent Goose 40
Eider Duck 2
Red-breasted Merganser 9

Terrestrial Birds
Feral Pigeon 3

We arrived at Immingham and were greeted at the DFDS check-in gate by Fran who kindly escorted us to the 'Hafnia Seaways'. Once on board we were shown our cabin and then given our lunch whilst waiting for the ship to navigate the lock gates and enter the River Humber.

Harbour Porp by GEWe were invited onto the bridge just after 1:20pm and immediately started recording Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and a small group of male Red Breasted Mergansers.  As we rounded Spurn Head we encountered several seals watching the ship as it left the estuary. The next hour was spent recording Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and the occasional Guillemot, and then at 4:46pm we caught sight of our first Harbour Porpoise, one of three animals to be seen that day.

More Gannets, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Guillemot were to follow and one highlight of the afternoon was watching a Great Skua rob a Gannet sitting in the water of its fish that it had just caught; the Skua flew down onto the unsuspecting Gannet's head and sat there until the Gannet relinquished its meal.


The following morning we returned to the bridge with 100 miles to travel to Cuxhaven. The mix of birds had changed, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Terns made more frequent appearances and nearing Cuxhaven Scoter and Brent Geese were seen and a few Cormorants appeared as we neared the terminal. With the survey work finished for the day we retired to the lounge to record the previous days sightings.
The return leg of the survey started on Sunday at 4:45am. The sun was shining and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Gannets, Fulmars and Kittiwakes were seen hunting for food throughout the day.

Common Tern ad sum 2At one point a Lesser Black-backed Gull dived down steeply in front of the vessel and flew back to bridge height with a crab wriggling in its beak. We also encountered rafts of Fulmar feeding amongst patches of lighter water and Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls appeared sporadically throughout the afternoon, one Common Tern was seen standing on a small block of wood bobbing up and down in the waves. We left the bridge with the sun setting in the west.

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways, Captain Andrey Makeev, his Officers and Crew for looking after us so well whilst we were surveying. We would also like to thank the ships concierge for the excellent bowl of strawberries and ice-cream given to us on the last night of our survey rounding off the weekend perfectly.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Cheryl Leaning Research Surveyors for MARINElife