MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Cuxhaven DFDS ‘Finlandia’ 17th-19th May 2013

Weather: Eastbound: NW 5 Westbound: W 1

Dick Lorand and Robert Graves Research Surveyors for MARINElife



Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 3
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocena 69
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 26

Eider Somateria mollissima 37
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 6
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 124
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 12
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 213
Common Gull Larus canus 196
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 134
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 227
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 4
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 11
Guillemot  Uria aalge 109
Razorbill Alca torda 36
Greylag Goose Anser anser 7
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 3

Terrestrial Birds:
Dunlin Calidris alpine 7
House Martin Delichon urbicum 2
Swallow Hirundo rustica 10
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 2
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 2
Yellow Wagtail Moticilla flava thunbergi 1
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur 1
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa 1

The new parking and check in near Nordic House on the Immingham Terminal were much better and we were welcomed aboard the 'Finlandia' with a wholesome midday meal.

After tight manoeuvring, we joined the bridge an hour after we left the quayside. 3 Tufted Duck were flushed by the Finlandia as we were heading down river and we were soon into the North Sea. Just after leaving, the Humber Mouth 2 Harbour Porpoise were spotted.

Razorbill 1There was a steady stream of Gannet and Kittiwake and to a lesser extent Guillemot and Razorbill, with Guillemot being the commoner of the two auks. Despite the choppy conditions, another brief view of a probable Harbour Porpoise was seen in the late afternoon, when weather conditions started to deteriorate with persistent rain. Briefly taking shelter from the weather were 1 House Martin, 2 Swallow and 2 Tree Pipit. The best bird of the day occurred just before the survey finished at 20:30 when a second year intermediate Pomarine Skua flew past the bows of the ship.

05:00 the next morning saw us running along the north German coast. 2 Wood Pigeon were resting on the roof of a container on deck. 7 Greylag Geese were flying north and a thunbergi Yellow Wagtail made a brief appearance over the bow of the ship, while 4 Swallow and a House Martin hawked around the super structure. At the entrance of Common Sealthe Elbe River, we encountered good numbers of Lesser Black-backed and Common Gull and 26 Common Seal were hauled out on the sand bars.

After docking Robert braved the inclement weather and spent 3 hours looking at the habitat around the dock perimeter where his highlights were 16 Common Sandpiper, 1 Honey Buzzard, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Black Redstart and 3 Icterine Warbler. Heavy rain and cool temperatures persisted for the rest of the day. The 'Finlandia' left Cuxhaven just before dusk.

Another 5am start on the bridge saw much calmer conditions. A Turtle Dove was resting on the bridge railings and an hour and a half into the survey saw the first of a total of 11 Puffin. Guillemot and Razorbill were more in WBDevidence than the eastbound leg so too were Gannet and Kittiwake plus a total of 6 Red-throated Diver and a single Black-tailed Godwit flying north over the ship. The undoubted highlight of the survey were the cetaceans. In 31 sightings, we logged 66 Harbour Porpoise plus good views of 3 White-beaked Dolphin. There could have been more recorded but at 15:15 dense fog descended and the survey was curtailed.

A very worthwhile survey and if the sea conditions are right demonstrates what can be seen in the North Sea.

The survey was made possible with the generosity of DFDS and the help of Captain Gintaras Kucinskas and his very friendly crew to which we extend our thanks.

Dick Lorand and Robert Graves Research Surveyors for MARINElife