MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Primula Seaways’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 1-4 April 2016

Robin Langdon and Keith Morgan, research surveyors for MARINElife

Day 1: Overcast, with southerly wind force 5-6
Day 2: Overcast, with southerly wind force 3-5
Day 3: Overcast, with a southerly wind, force 3-5

Summary of Sightings:

Canada Goose Branta canadensis 12
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 41
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 27
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 120
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 85
Common Gull Larus canus 7
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 27
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 30
Auk sp. 6
Gull sp. 581
Skua sp. 1
Shearwater sp. 2


Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros 1
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 2
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 1
Blackbird Turdus merula 1

As I think Jimmy Hill once said this was a game (survey) of two halves. The trip also had some strange incidents.

This was the first time Keith and I had been on this route. All went to plan when we met at a transport café just outside the port. We were checked in and taken aboard the ship, this is when I had the first strange incident as I had the distinct impression I had been on this ship before - and recently. When I started to recognise the crew and they remembered me I realised I had been on the ship for the Gothenburg trip a few weeks earlier.

We left around 17:00 and were able to get onto the bridge just before 19:00. This gave us about an hour before it became dark, the conditions were good with no swell but only a few birds were seen.

LBB Gull Peter Howlett 05a
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The following morning we were able to start surveying at 06:00. The conditions were again good with no swell and birds appeared at a steady rate with the usual suspects of Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Guillemots but only 2 Gannets were seen. There were also a number of land birds on board the ship. We identified a couple of Blackbirds and a Pied Wagtail but a couple of other birds never gave good enough views to identify - even though they stayed with the boat the whole way - every now and again they would flit across the boat and disappear behind the containers. We left the bridge just after 13:30 for a well-earned rest.

The ship departed on the return to Immingham at around 22:00 so we had to wait until 06:00 the following morning to start the survey. We soon picked up an escort of a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls that stayed with the ship for a few hours to make sure we knew the way back. We also had a couple more land birds flitting around the ship. This time we got a better look at them and could see one was a warbler and the other a Black Redstart.

Black Redstart Robin Langdon 01
Black Redstart (Robin Langdon)

In contrast to the outbound journey we saw almost 40 Gannet. A racing pigeon, complete with rings, landed on the ship to take a rest. It stayed with us for a few hours until Keith inadvertently scared it away looking out of the window just above where it had rested.

We left the bridge at 19:00 thanking Captain Adriansson's crew for their hospitality and went down to the driver's mess for a rest.

Robin Langdon and Keith Morgan, research surveyors for MARINElife