Sightings Archives: August 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Cuxhaven DFDS ‘Finlandia’ 19th-21st August 2013

Posted 24 August 2013

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind variable later NW 2-3 outbound with SSW 3-4 on the return

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 64
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 10 

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 47
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 19
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 9
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 165
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 61
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 10
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1887
Common Gull Larus canus 42
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 117
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 361
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 34
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6086
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 20
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 101
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 65
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 166
Puffin Fratercula arctica 16
Guillemot Uria aalge 2038
Razorbill Alca torda 103

Terrestrial Birds:
Dunlin Calidris alpina 8
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 5
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 5
Curlew Numenius arquata 2
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 7
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava 1

After efficiently being booked onto the 'Finlandia', we were welcomed onto the bridge by Captain Oresko Andrej, not long after we left the lock pits at Immingham. Our first sightings were of 21 Common Scoter heading up river and a Grey Seal asleep just outside the dock. Once we had cleared the Humber estuary, we were recording a few Arctic and Common Tern and after about 10 miles, we encountered a steady stream of Large White butterflies and thousands of Common Jellyfish along a line of flotsam.

Minke Whale Peter Howlett 01aWe were soon picking up small numbers of Harbour Porpoise in the flat calm conditions, amounting to 34 for the day. At about 50 miles out, we came upon large flocks of Kittiwake and Guillemot totalling 4955 and 1495 respectively. In amongst these birds were 4 Sooty and 8 Manx Shearwater. Brief views were also had of 2 singles of Minke Whale. From close up views of feeding birds, it appeared they were catching sand eels. Terns and Kittiwake were being harried by 3 Arctic Skua, then after two or three miles of frantic activity, recording settled to a slower pace and we finished for the day at 20:00hrs. A look at the ship's Admiralty charts showed that the rafts of birds had been at the northern extension of the Inner Dowsing sand ridge.

Minke Whale (Pete Howlett)

Back on the bridge by 06:00hrs Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gull were much in evidence as we neared the German coast plus a couple of hundred Guillemot with quite a few juveniles in tow as we passed Heligoland and we managed to log another 5 Harbour Porpoise. Good numbers of Sandwich, Common, Arctic and "Commic" and a single Little Tern were seen in the environs of Cuxhaven. Several Tortoiseshell butterflies and a Painted Lady butterfly also joined the ship in the vicinity of Heligoland and stayed until docking at Cuxhaven.

Yellow Wagtail (Cliff Morrison)Starting our last day of the survey at 05:30hrs, half way across the North Sea we had a constant trickle of attendant Gannet with Common and Black-headed Gull overtaking the ship heading towards the UK. Again we passed through the Kittiwake and Guillemot flock but the numbers were much reduced with 934 and 332 respectively, but we did see a Pomarine Skua along with 6 Arctic Skua and singles of Manx and Sooty Shearwater plus 11 Puffin. With stronger winds on the return trip, spotting cetaceans was not easy but we did log a total of 27 Harbour Porpoise. Within sight of the English coast, a Yellow Wagtail joined the ship along with several Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies. Small numbers of Common and Arctic Tern were seen in the Humber estuary and finally, a party of 26 Common Scoter were seen flying up river, mirroring the 21 seen as we had left port at the start of the journey. It is assumed that Scoter migrate up river and then fly cross-country to the Irish Sea.

Yellow Wagtail (Cliff Morrison)

Once again, our gratitude extends to all the staff, both on and offshore at DFDS for their help in making this yet again a very successful survey.

Cliff Morrison and Dick Lorand: Research Surveyors for MARINElife.