MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Cuxhaven “Clementine” 20th-23rd September 2013

Maggie Gamble and Lucy Bernardova, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Wind variable later NW-SW 3-4 outbound, with SW 2-4 on the return

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Unidentified Seal Sp.1

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 94
Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 36
Gannet Morus bassanus 91
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 48
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 8
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Little Gull Larus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 143
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 20
Guillemot Uria aalge 136
Unidentified Auk Sp. 24
Unidentified Skua Sp.1
Unidentified Gull Sp. 1558

Gannet 11a Carol Farmer WrightThe departure for this crossing was scheduled later than usual for 1600 hours. Soon after leaving Immingham we were invited up to the bridge by the Captain of the 'Clementine' which was a new vessel to MARINElife and has a Russian Crew.  I think we were a bit of a surprise to them but they were very welcoming and luckily spoke much better English than my 3 words of Russian. 

We surveyed for a couple of hours that evening and commenced again the next morning at 6.30am. The outward trip was very quiet for birds although we did see some flocks of Common Scoter and brief glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise whose presence was given away by an attentive Gannet.

We stayed on board in Cuxhaven due to the altered timing and recommenced surveying the next morning. This return leg was much busier although made tricky later in the afternoon by the glare from the sun, which turned into a brilliant sunset. 

Gannet (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

Arctic Skua The highlight of this leg was the on- going Skua migration - mainly Arctic Skua. We had excellent views of one group of four who were harrying a small feeding flock of Kittiwake and Gannet. Two of them chased a hapless Kittiwake across our bow in a fantastic high speed acrobatic flying display by all three birds. Another group of four were more distant but again were harrying a mixed feeding flock.  

A single Great Skua flew so close across our bow that we almost missed it. There have been several birds of both species reported from the Mendip Reservoirs near Bristol this week, so now is an excellent time to see them. We arrived back at Immingham at 0400hrs and were met promptly at the ramp by the ever helpful staff from DFDS.


Arctic Skua (Photo: Peter Howlett)

As ever our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the 'Clementine' for all their assistance and allowing us to carry out this survey.

Maggie Gamble and Lucy Bernardova, Research Surveyors for MARINElife.