MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Clipper Point’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 18th-20th January 2013

Adrian Shephard and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: E/ENE 3-7

Summary of Sightings

Cetaceans & Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 15
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Unidentified Seal Sp. 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 24
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 192
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 31
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 44
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 116
Guillemot Uria aalge 165
Eider Somateria mollissima 13
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis 3
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula 3
Red-Throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Gull Sp. 6
Diver Sp. 16
Auk Sp. 28

Estuary Birds:
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 58+
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 500+
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 21
Unidentified Swan Sp. 1  

Black-tailed GodwitWe boarded promptly in the sunshine but with the imminent threat of snow. We enjoyed a nice lunch and watched a group of waders including Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Shelduck and Lapwing feeding on the mud flats near the dock.

Once through the lock, we headed for the bridge to start our survey.

The wind conditions were due to get stronger as the survey progressed, so we set to work recording seabirds with Common Gull and Guillemot dominating before we got a fleeting glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise, followed by a Grey Seal. As it turned out, these were the only marine mammals of the day.

Barnacle GeeseAfter a good sleep, we were back on the bridge the following morning at 7.30am, but again the sea state was not on our side, but the sunshine was with us. We encountered a slow stream of birds, primarily Common Gull and the occasional Kittiwake and Guillemot. As we neared Cuxhaven, three Barnacle Geese flew alongside the bridge providing some nice views.

In the estuary, good numbers of birds were seen including Divers, Eider and other ducks and even a distant Swan in flight. We got off very briefly in Cuxhaven to stretch our legs, but the sub-zero temperatures soon had us back onboard to tally up sightings to date.

Common SkoterThe return crossing saw similar sea conditions with gradually increasing swell, but as this was primarily behind us, it didn't feel uncomfortable. A steady stream of seabirds was encountered and then mid morning, we had a series of Harbour Porpoise sightings, their dark forms standing out against the brown white-capped seas.

One group of seven porpoises was seen feeding in association with Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and Gannet. In the same vicinity, we also saw a number of Guillemot, which were already in their breeding plumage.

By 4pm, the swell was causing too much spray on the windows to continue, so we finished our survey and thanked the crew for their support.

Adrian Shephard and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife