MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Clipper Point’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 15th-17th February 2013

Cheryl Leaning & Sue Lakeman Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Southbound NE-SE 2-4 Northbound E-SE 2-4 Visibility: Moderate to poor

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 18
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 6
Seal Sp. 5
Unidentified small cetacean 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 70
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 17
Eider Somateria mollissima 10
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 19
Common Gull Larus canus 53
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 17
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 91
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 31
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 162
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 173
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 2
Unidentified Duck Sp. 3
Goose Sp. 1 (possible pink-footed)
Unidentified Diver Sp. 2
Unidentified Auk Sp.74
Unidentified Gull Sp.181

Terrestrial birds:
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 60
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 1
Skylark (probable) Alauda arvensis 1
Wader Sp.1

Grey Seal 1After a week of snow, wind and rain, it was a pleasant surprise to arrive in Immingham in hazy sunshine for our crossing to Cuxhaven. The efficient DFDS staff made sure we were quickly aboard and shown to our comfortable cabins. Once the Clipper Point had been expertly manoeuvred through the lock, Captain Pearce welcomed us to the bridge to begin our survey.

In the Humber, we were soon accompanied by seals and Black-headed Gull. The seabird count was steady as we started our crossing of the North Sea and we saw several Grey Seal and Cormorant fishing some distance from shore. Conditions were calm and bright and we were soon rewarded with our first sighting of Harbour Porpoise, followed by several more before we closed for the day as the light faded, descending to the airy passenger area for a tasty fish and chip supper provided by the friendly catering crew.

Harbour PorpoiseOn the bridge at first light, we encountered three Starling sheltering on the ship for several hours. The day again provided calm seas, but misty conditions meant that identification of distant sightings was challenging. The highlight of a quiet morning, as well as the numerous Guillemot, were a couple more Harbour Porpoise surfacing briefly and a flight of Eider crossing ahead of the ship, before we entered the shipping lane on the approach to Cuxhaven. After another tasty meal, we retired early, hoping for a busy day ahead.

Day three's visibility was slightly improved and we were accompanied by numerous Kittiwake, including a few of the beautifully marked juveniles. We were also surprised to see a single Lapwing fly in front of the bridge and at one point to be briefly visited by what appeared to be a rather ruffled Skylark.

The Kittiwake, busily searching the waters for food, cued us onto several Juv-Kittiwakeof our Harbour Porpoise sightings, which they had obviously spotted sub-surface long before we were treated to tantalisingly brief glimpses of these small and elusive cetaceans.

Despite the misty conditions, this was a very smooth and interesting trip and we would like to thank Captain Pearce, his officers and crew for their hospitality and once again, extend our appreciation to DFDS for their continued support that allows us to conduct our survey work on these North Sea routes.

Cheryl Leaning & Sue Lakeman Research Surveyors for MARINElife