MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS ‘Clipper Point’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 7th - 9th March 2014

Maggie Gamble and Jenny Boatwright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward: good visibility with glare at times, westerly wind force 2-5.  Return: poorer visibility due to mist with glare at times, southerly wind force 4-6

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Shoveler Anas clypeata 3
Eider Somateria mollissima 38
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 60
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 42
Gannet Morus bassanus 62
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 27
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 804
Common Gull Larus canus 20
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 170
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 55
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 55
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 5
Larus Sp.144
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 188
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Auk Sp.313
Diver Sp. 3
Duck Sp. 42

Terrestrial birds:
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 1
Passerine Sp. 3
Dove Sp. 6
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3

We had a prompt departure from Port and having been invited up on to the bridge by the captain beforehand, we were able to watch the impressive manoeuvring of the ship through that very narrow lock from there.

Pilot joining Clipper PointOverall this was a fairly quiet survey especially for the first few hours, and then we started to pick up on various seabirds and at one point a large concentration of Kittiwake resting or feeding over a large area. Some distant divers were just a little too distant to ID the species, but were probably either Red-throated or Black-throated Diver.

Day two of the survey, and we were up on the bridge shortly before sunrise, conditions were good with just a long swell. A small flock of Little Gull by the bow (not in summer plumage unfortunately!) were a highlight, as this is a species I seldom see. Approaching the German coast we picked up the pilot and joined the line of vessels heading for port. Having remarked that we would be unlikely to see Harbour Porpoise now, this close to a busy shipping lane, I was confounded by the appearance of one, possibly two
individuals ahead and a further two sightings spread over a large area soon followed. The captain or pilot had previously remarked that the tide would soon be on the turn and I presume that the feeding conditions suited them to be in that area.

Once in port the Captain and crew kindly arranged a lift to the dock gates and a walk into town added an impressive fruit ice-cream fruit sundae to our list which was calories we really didn't require, having been very well fed on board!

GuillemotIt's an evening departure from Cuxhaven, so day three of the survey started at sunrise already at sea with much reduced visibility due to mist. It was a day for rafting auks, they seemed disinclined to fly! -mostly guillemots with a couple of close puffins, one in full summer plumage and the other transient.

During the survey we'd observed few migrating passerines and watching a loan chaffinch battling along just above the waves, I could only marvel at the distances and conditions that these birds can navigate.

We arrived early back at Immingham, very early in the morning and leaving the ship as soon as the ramp was down we were quickly ferried back to our dockside cars by the ever obliging DFDS port staff.

Many thanks as ever to the captain and crew of the Clipper Point for their hospitality and assistance on board.

Maggie Gamble and Jenny Boatwright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Photo credits:
Top: 'Pilot' joining the 'Clipper Point' (Maggie Gamble)
Bottom: Guillemot (Archive photo)