Sightings Archives: August 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Hafnia Seaways’ Immingham - Cuxhaven 17-19 August 2012

Posted 25 August 2012

Janet Shepherd and Cheryl Leaning: Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: 7-4 SSW-S Westbound: 3-6 predominantly NE

Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus alnirostris 8
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 3
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 1
Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 6 

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 61
Gannet Morus bassanus 430
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 41
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Parasitic (Arctic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 18
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 271
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 968
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 122
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 32
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 13
Puffin Fratercula arctica 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 1378
Eider Somateria mollissima 6
Gull Sp 10
Tern Sp. 19
Shearwater Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria 12
Racing Pigeon  Columba livia 4
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 1
Common Sandpiper  Actitis hypoleucos 1
Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica 2
Dunlin (Probable) Calidris alpine 5
Pipit sp. 1

Friendly staff saw us through security and, by vehicle, on to the ship. We were welcomed on board, where lunch awaited us and we were able to watch the Captain and crew skilfully negotiate us out into the Humber through what looked like a very narrow lock. We also met two Fire Fighters from Peaks Lane station in Grimsby, Carl Hunt and Richard Scott, who, through a charity, were taking a Fire appliance and equipment out to Romania. DFDS were also kindly supporting them in their work. We made our way to the Bridge and were welcomed by Captain John-Eric G. Van Asperen and some of his crew. They were very helpful and informative and made our time throughout the voyage very relaxed and enjoyable.

LLB Gull ad 1The southerly winds on the outward passage made for difficult conditions for cetacean spotting, however we recorded many Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Gannets (of all ages) and Kittiwakes, with some Common , Sandwich and Arctic Terns nearer the coast. There were also many rafts of young, recently -fledged Guillemots sitting on the water and one adult Puffin. A highlight was watching Great Skuas chasing Eiderkittiwakes for a free meal.

We saw a flurry of activity in the water, undoubtedly Dolphin chasing a shoal of fish, but were unable to identify species or number, but later we saw a small group of Common Dolphin and a couple of Seals. Other birds encountered were a flock of Golden Plover, a Pipit and racing pigeons. Approaching Cuxhaven we spotted Great Black- backed Gulls, Eider Duck and Cormorants and many hundreds of waders and gulls on the sandbanks, too far away to identify.

Arctic Skua 3On the return journey the wind decreased and meant conditions were better for sighting cetaceans especially after a short, though spectacular, electric storm. Again we encountered many rafts of young Guillemots with Kittiwakes, some more Puffins and a steady number of Gannets and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This time we were entertained to the antics of an Arctic Skua chasing Kittiwake and by some racing Pigeons that were hitching a ride and periodically flew a couple of circuits around the ship.
Other birds seen included an Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, possibly Dunlin and a Swallow.

Almost flat seas after the storm meant we had several perfect sightings of mostly White Beaked Dolphin and a Harbour Porpoise. 

An excellent voyage and productive survey and again our thanks go to DFDS and to Captain van Asperen and his crew for making it possible.

Janet Shepherd and Cheryl Leaning: Research Surveyors for MARINElife