MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS ‘Clipper Point’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 10th - 12th January 2014

Cliff Morrison and Colin Gill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Wind, Predominately from the south West


Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Diver species Gavia species 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 23
Gannet Morus bassanus 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 155
Common Gull Larus canus 247
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 104
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 60
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 84
Auk Sp. 9

Grey Seal 02 Rick Morris This was a midday sailing out of the dock and through the narrow lock, so that after an early lunch on board, we were able to watch and marvel at the skill of manoeuvring such a large vessel out into the river Humber. Once into the main shipping lane, we were invited onto the bridge by Captain James Smith and were offered every assistance by him and the crew throughout the trip.

The afternoon was pleasant with a moderate southwesterly wind and good visibility and so we were able to get three hours observations in before dusk. There were two distinct ebbing currents as we approached and passed Spurn, where many common and black-headed gulls were taking advantage of food being brought to the surface. With them was a second winter Iceland Gull, a good record.  Three Grey Seal were seen over 75 minutes but the Donna Nook colony is only five miles to the west, so were no doubt local animals. Further out, a Shag attempted to land on the forward rails of our vessel, we were close to gas rigs and speculated that the bird probably used these as roost sites, since the afternoon was drawing to a close. Shortly afterwards, a great skua flying close to our vessel ended a good afternoon.

Grey Seal: (Rick Morris)

Little gullThe following morning, the weather was less kind to us, with strong following southwesterly winds and light rain, so most birds were recorded close to the vessel. There were a few kittiwake and Guillemot recorded, but 5 adult Little Gull at sea and a Red-breasted Merganser in the estuary approaches were the birds of particular interest.

Shortly before arrival into the Cuxhaven berth, the wind backed to northeast and blew a gale overnight, subsiding by morning. Even so, there was a large swell for the first few hours of observation on the return trip, but birds could be seen well as there were no breaking waves.

Guillemot, kittiwake and some fulmar were the principle bird species observed, but at 13:00hrs, a single Harbour Porpoise was seen briefly. A little later, once approaching the more undulating seabed on the eastern side of the crossing, small feeding flocks of kittiwake, auks and Great Black-backed Gull were seen, but no cetaceans could be spotted below them.
We arrived back in port at 03:30hrs and so we were early home for breakfast.

Little Gull: (Michael Bamford)

Many thanks to Captain James Smith and his crew for their cooperation and to DFDS Seaways for the continued support.

Cliff Morrison and Colin Gill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife