Immingham-Esbjerg

Recent Sightings

Posted 01 December 2014

Surveys on this route have been suspended for operational reasons

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways 'Jutlandia Seaways ' Immingham-Esbjerg 27th-29th June 2014

Posted 07 July 2014

Nik Grounds and Cliff Morrison: Research Surveyors for MARINElife


Weather: Generally light winds from the NNW on the outward journey and light N to NE on the return journey. Skies were generally clear with excellent visibility throughout.


Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Grey Seal  Halochoerus grypus 100s seen at long range at Donna Nook
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 12+2 pups seen on sandbanks in Esbjerg estuary

Seabirds:
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 12
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 8
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 9
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 97
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 204
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 37 note, 500 roosting on Esbjerg sands
Common Gull Larus canus 36
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 57
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 32
Little Gull Hydrocooleus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 373
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 2 note, 20+ in Esbjerg harbour
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Commic Tern Sterna paradisaea/hirundo 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 228
Razorbill Alca torda 4

Terrestrial Birds:
White-tailed Eagle Haliaceetus albicilla 1 on Esbjerg sand banks
Pergrine Falcon Falco Peregrinus 1 at Immingham docks
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1 at Immingham docks
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto 1 onboard ship

The Journey: At Immingham Port, ever-helpful DFDS staff quickly escorted us to the ticket office and then aboard the 'Jutlandia Seaways'. Here, we were met by the chief officer and were guided to our cabin. Once settled in, we were asked to dinner and shortly after sailing, Captain Tarang invited us to the bridge. Having travelled with Captain Tarang several times now, we were not surprised by the very warm welcome and to find observation chairs already placed for us to begin our evening watch, along with biscuits to keep our energy levels up for the early start next morning.

Monarch gas rig - Cliff Morrison

We were able to observe for one and half hours until dusk on the first evening, passing close to Spurn Point in bright sunshine. We started east again at 04.20hrs next morning at 4 degrees out, which was exactly midway across the North Sea, finishing at 13.30 hours as we entered the Esbjerg estuary. Despite the inclement weather, we enjoyed a couple of hours ashore in Esbjerg, before returning for tea and then to enjoy a very pleasant sailing out of the estuary in fine weather. We chose not to record on this part of the trip, but started again next morning, again at 04.20 hours and at almost exactly the same point that we had started the previous morning. This meant that we achieved a complete survey across the route over the 2 days. We finished the survey at 1300hrs after entering the Humber estuary.

Monarch gas rig at dusk, 40 miles off Spurn Point, photo: Cliff Morrison

Whilst there were few birds on the outward journey from the Humber, 12 Shelduck were on the mud by the quay as we left Immingham, whilst 5 Kittiwake were just off Grimsby port, which was a little unusual, and a Sandwich Tern was off Spurn Point. The excellent visibility allowed us to see the many hundreds of dark shapes on the Lincolnshire beach at Donna Nook. With the benefit of local knowledge, we knew these to be Grey Seals. The entire route passes close to gas rigs and outlying feeder rigs, but the Monarch rig, lying about 40 miles off the Humber, looked particularly impressive in the setting sun.

Observations the following morning were fairly slow, but steady with gannets, great black-backed gulls and a few Guillemots being the main species, although we were somewhat hampered by the head on glare. Highlights were 2 Little Gull and an immature Great Skua. A Collared Dove flew around the ship at one point, which we assumed Little Gull Cliff Morrison 01had journeyed out with us from Immingham. gulls, particularly Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull increased as we approached Esbjerg estuary, where there were also several Arctic Tern, which breed on the harbour wall fortifications, and a single Little Tern.

On this trip, we did not encounter fishing vessels close to shore and hence recorded far less gulls than normal over the sea. However, the most interesting bird to be seen on this outward part of the trip was an immature White-tailed Eagle that was standing close to several Harbour Seal hauled out on one of the outer sandbanks in the Esbjerg estuary. It was not seen on the return sailing, but we could see a couple of very young seal pups, so these could have been of interest to the eagle.



Little Gull, Photo: Cliff Morrison

On the final leg of the trip, mid North Sea and around 200 miles from either shore, it was very surprising to see an adult Guillemot, with a less than half grown chick so early in the season. We saw many adults and young swimming eastwards at this point in late July 2013, but to travel this distance so soon after leaving Bempton Cliffs, or even Heligoland, is a great achievement. Several more adults and chicks were recorded over the next few hours. Many kittiwake, Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot were seen as we progressed westwards, along with 4 adult Razorbill. A total of 4 individual Harbour Porpoise were recorded, but only one was associated with a mixed feeding flock of Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet.

As the 'Jutlandia' was manoeuvred into the quay at Immingham, a Peregrine Falcon flew close by, landing on one of the huge cranes that off-load coal from the bulk ship freighters. It is understood that they breed on the docks, as do Kestrel, one of this species being noted and so completing a hat trick of birds of prey being seen at each end of the trip.

We would like to thank Captain Tarang and his crew for their warm welcome and assistance during the trip. 

Nik Grounds and Cliff Morrison: Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways 'Ark Germania ' Immingham-Esbjerg 27th-29th May 2014

Posted 08 June 2014

Fraser Pateson and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather:   Light easterly winds and rain when leaving Immingham and the Humber, increasing to gale force by the following morning, before becoming moderate easterly for the rest of the trip. Cloud clearing on the evening of 28th, giving bright conditions for much of the return trip, clouding over when approaching shore.

Summary of sightings: 

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halochoerus grypus 13

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 46
Cormorant Phalocrocorax carbo 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 59
Gannet Morus bassanus 71
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 300
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 150
Gull Species Larus argentatus/fuscus 280
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalu ridibundus 30
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 86
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 12
Commic Tern Sterna paradisaea/hirundo 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Razorbill Alca torda 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Swallow Hirundico rustica 2
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 1

 

At Immingham Port we were welcomed by the helpful and efficient DFDS staff who quickly escorted us aboard the 'Ark Germania'. Here, we were met by the chief officer and guided to our cabins before being welcomed by Captain Danial Vang, who kindly showed us to the bridge of this new and splendid flagship vessel of the DFDS fleet. This ship will be joined shortly on the route by the Ark Dania, which is currently undergoing fitting in Denmark. After a buffet tea, we had time to revisit the bridge as the vessel departed port and watched as the ship sailed out beyond Spurn Point. Given the steady rain, we decided not to record on this leg of the trip, but only a small number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen.

LBB Gull by Graham Ekins 05

Lesser Black backed Gull (Archive Photo by Graham Ekins)

An early 0440hrs start, almost midway across the North Sea, began with gale force winds, full cloud cover and occasional rain, so conditions were not conducive for spotting cetaceans. Bird sightings were also low until approaching the Danish coast, when small numbers of Common Scoters were seen. Approaching the estuary, there were good numbers of gulls, including almost 300 Herring Gulls and 150 Lesser Black-backed, whilst over 200 gulls of mixed species, but mainly of the latter two species were following a beam trawler. 9 eider ducks were present in the estuary, along with a small flock of 30 Black-headed Gulls and 8 Grey Seals could be seen on the sand banks. The ship docked in Esbjerg by 1325hrs, when several Arctic Terns, which were nesting on the defence walls, were circling the ship.

The return journey began at 20.30 hours with a continuing gusty wind, but bright sunshine, so an enjoyable trip out of the estuary was experienced before dusk.

The sun was shining brightly at the commencement of the morning observations at 0500hrs, although the sea swell was still high. The ships position was almost exactly at the point of start of observations on the outward journey, so a full transect of the North Sea could be accomplished.

Bird sightings began immediately, with Fulmars, Gannets and Kittiwakes being regularly recorded. Highlights were 2 separate Great Skuas, an adult and a second year bird being seen. Further towards the English coast, Guillemots began to appear, mainly being seen on the sea and there was a single adult Razorbill close to Spurn approaches.

A Meadow Pipit joined the ship, with a male swallow arriving shortly afterwards. Finally a female Swallow arrived, with the Pipit leaving first, followed by the Swallows an hour later.

Only one Harbour Porpoise was spotted in the heavy swell, but 5 Grey Seals were observed, all feeding in the areas where there were the greatest concentrations of Guillemots on the sea.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 07

Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo by Peter Howlett)

We completed observations by 1300hours shortly after the ship passed Spurn Point and entered the Humber.

We would like to thank Captain Danial Vang and crew for their welcome and help during the trip.

 

Fraser Pateson and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

 

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways

Posted 30 May 2014

Survey cancelled due to logistical issue!

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways 'Ark Follower' Immingham-Esbjerg 25th-27th March 2014

Posted 02 April 2014

John Perry Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Mainly cloudy, wind moderate 6-7 predominantly from the ENE.  Precipitation on outward sailing.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Brent Goose  Branta bernicla 7
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 527
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 222
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 25
Gannet Morus bassanus 94
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 91
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 86
Puffin Fratercula arctica 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 108

Terrestrial Birds:
Robin  Erithacus rubecula 1


At Immingham Port I was welcomed by the helpful and efficient DFDS staff who quickly escorted me aboard the 'Ark Follower'. After leaving my bag in the cabin I was given an excellent evening meal before retiring and enjoyed a comfortable and quiet night.

Red throated diver by MB

Red-throated diver, archive photo by Mike Bamsford

Breakfast was available at first light and so I was able to make my way to the Bridge just after 06:00 to meet Capt. Ion Duta before beginning the survey.  Initially the sea was quite active and together with persistent light rain, sightings were mainly down to the occasional Gannet, Fulmar or Guillemot. However, as the ship approached Danish waters and the crossing became calmer, the sun appeared and viewing conditions were excellent.

I was fortunate enough that the good weather coincided with a serious movement of both Common and Velvet Scoter, the latter looking stunning as the sunlight caught the beautiful white markings on the wing.  A total of over 500 Common Scoter and over 200 Velvet Scoter was logged in a space of an hour. Other highlights of the outward journey were Red-throated Diver and Little Gull.

Once the ship was safely tied up in Esbjerg port, I was given permission by the Captain to go ashore for a while and spent a very pleasant couple of hours exploring the town.  I returned to the ship in time for another excellent dinner and spent the rest of the evening inputting data from the day's sightings.

Gannet Carol F-W

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gannet, archive photo by Carol Farmer-Wright

After a comfortable night I again made the Bridge by 06:00 and was pleased to see that the weather had calmed considerably overnight. The sea was relatively quiet with good light as we made our westerly way back to Immingham. Although no longer witnessing the great movement of Scoter, the return journey held other interesting sightings including a number of very close encounters with Puffin, a Gannet 'feeding frenzy', a hitch-hiking Robin and, as the ship entered the mouth of the Humber, a skein of Brent Goose to welcome me home.

 

John Perry Research Surveyor for MARINElife


MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways 'Britannia Seaways' Immingham-Esbjerg 25th-27th February 2014

Posted 09 March 2014

Cheryl Leaning and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward S 5; return S backing W 6

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Dolphin Sp. 3

Seabirds:
Eider Somateria mollissima 235
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2163
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 17
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 10
Gannet Morus bassanus 29
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 33
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 735
Guillemot Uria aalge 125

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 33
Dunlin Calidris alpina c.50
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 1 (at sea)
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1 (at sea)

After leaving our car in the staff car park, we were whisked aboard Britannia Seaways. We encountered our first luxury in the form of a passenger lift which delivered us effortlessly to the accommodation deck. The friendly steward showed us to our individual cabins. An equally charming cook then introduced himself and delivered a delicious dinner, including a vegetarian option. We retired to our bunks ready for an early start in the morning as the vessel set off into the Humber and the night.

Harbour Porpoise Graham Ekins 01We joined the bridge at first light and discovered our next luxury. A magnificent captain's chair fixed halfway along the starboard wing, perfectly placed for sea watching in comfort. We were even given permission to use it. The sea was relatively calm with a few white caps. Visibility was good. A perfect storm for sightings. It proved to be surprisingly quiet with a total of five birds (Kittiwake and Gannet) in the first three hours. One of those was a Starling which hitched all the way to Denmark. There were brief flashes of fin, a Harbour Porpoise and three dolphin, towards the end of this period too.  These proved to be the only swimmers for this trip. For the next few hours only shadows of clouds tantalised us.

As we began to draw within sight of land, things picked up. Huge rafts of sea duck became skeins of Common Scoter flying across our bow mainly from port to starboard. We counted over 2000 of them with 17 of the less common but beautifully marked Velvet Scoter.

Further birds on this leg included a handful of Lesser Black-backed and Common Gull, one Little Gull and a few Guillemot. The sand banks of the Wadden Sea appeared to be well populated but too distant to confirm positive identification. Closer to port we had good views of a couple of groups of Common Eider and a spectacular fly past of Oystercatcher.

Kittiwake Rob-Petley-Jones 02Darkness came early in a rather misty evening. After a brief chat with some of the drivers who had joined the ship that afternoon, we had another early night, this time doubling up.Thursday dawned wet and foggy. There was little to be seen. Sky and sea were steel grey. Increasingly large waves and a strong swell provided entertainment, though with the bridge positioned mid-hull, it was most pleasant.  A Feral Pigeon travelled with us for much of the time but seemed reluctant to land upon the swaying ship. As the morning progressed it began to feel as if the occasional passing Guillemot was as good as it was going to get.                                               




Things improved. Guillemot became more frequent as the light became brighter. Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet also put in an appearance. A variety of gull species supplemented the total as we passed Spurn Island as it may become known following December's tidal surge.

This was the first trip for one of us. She can't wait for the next.

The captain, officers and crew of Britannia Seaways could not have been more welcoming and attentive hosts. We are very grateful to DFDS for their continued support.

Photo credits: Top: Harbour Porpoise (Graham Ekins) Bottom: Kittiwake (Rob Petley-Jones)

Cheryl Leaning and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS Ark Forwarder 28th-30th January 2014

Posted 03 February 2014

Colin Gill and Stuart Murray Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Westbound: Wind SE force 4-6, Swell 0, Visibility 5. Eastbound - Wind SE force 4-8, Swell 2, Visibility 6

Summary of Sightings

Cetaceans and Seals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena 3

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 4485
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 8
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Gannet Morus bassanus 15
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4            
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 89
Guillemot Uria aalge 187
Razorbill Alca torda 26
Puffin Fratercula arctica 14
Unidentified auk Sp. 26
Unidentified gull Sp. 2

Other water birds and land birds recorded:
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 1
Woodcock  Scolopax rusticola 1
Teal  Anas crecca 1
Blackbird Turdus merula 2
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris 3

 

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01We were warmly welcomed on board the Ark Forwarder a ship that has just started on this route. After an interesting night sleep and a quick breakfast, we were on the Bridge at first light. The weather was unfriendly to say the least with poor visibility, strong winds and rough seas. The day's observations would reflect this. Even the Wood Pigeon we saw was heading back to Britain as fast as it could go, it obviously knew what was behind it in Denmark. The numbers of birds at sea were extremely low with only the occasional sightings of the usual suspects. A lone Harbour Porpoise was our only marine mammal. However, we were treated to a spectacle of over 4000 Common Scoter returning from sea towards the Danish coast. For over an hour they kept coming in wave after wave and were a nice finish to the outward bound trip.  


Harbour Porpoise (photo: Pete Howlett)



Normally we enjoy a walk around the pleasant town, however, with thick snow falling and an air temperature of minus nine, today the warmth of the ship proved a better option. We also marvelled at the amount of sea ice that surrounded the docking area.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 05aAfter a restful night, we awoke to discover that the ship had not left until the early hours. This was to our advantage as it meant that we would get a longer survey period and as the weather and sea state had improved greatly we were optimistic for a good winter survey. We were rewarded with good numbers of sea birds and several sightings of both seals and Harbour Porpoise. At one point Stuart announced he thought he had seen a Woodcock, a quick look over the back of the ship did not confirm this, although two female Blackbirds were keeping pace with us. A Teal was then seen on the water and shortly afterwards the Woodcock flew right past the bridge as it circled the ship. It was obviously hitching a ride! We were discussing the reasons for the migration of these birds when three Fieldfare overtook us, also heading for Britain! It was good to see Puffin, some of whom were obviously this year's offspring, as well as a group of resident Gannet. Overall and considering the weather, it proved to be an interesting and enjoyable survey.


Gannet (Photo: Carol Farmer Wright)

Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ark Forwarder for their warm hospitality and friendliness.

Colin Gill and Stuart Murray Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS Seaways 'Fionia Seaways' 5th-7th November 2013

Posted 13 November 2013

Elaine Cursons and Lucie Bernardova; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward: good visibility, occasional light rain westerly to south-westerly wind force 4. Return: good visibility, northerly wind force 4-5


         Summary of sightings:

         Seabirds:

Eider Somateria mollissima 4
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra  396
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 60
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 28
Gannet Morus bassanus 206
Common Gull Larus canus 32
Herring Gull Larus argentus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 65
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 50
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 360
Guillemot Uria aalge 370
Scoter Sp. 2000
Gull Sp. 12
Small Gull Sp. 818
Large Gull Sp. 28

Terrestrial Birds:
Starling Sturnus vulgaris  18
Diver Sp.1
Wader Sp. 400

Fionia SeawaysIt was already dark when we were welcomed aboard the Fionia Seaways so no surveying was possible until the following day. We were welcomed onto the bridge at first light the next morning and the first birds we saw were 3 Starlings on their way towards the English coast.

There were regular sightings of small numbers of birds initially including Guillemot, Kittiwake and Common Gull. The weather was mainly dry with short bursts of light rain, but we could often see dark rain clouds in the distance and for a long time we were sailing towards a very clear rainbow. As we approached the Danish coast the number of sightings increased significantly with large flocks of hundreds of Common and Velvet Scoter. There were also 4 Eider and many waders and gulls close to the shore.


Fionia Seaways (Adrian Shephard)

We took the opportunity to walk round the town of Esbjerg in the last of the daylight before boarding the Fionia again for the return trip.

North Sea Rainbow
The second day of surveying was much busier than the first with a constant stream of sightings from the minute we arrived on the bridge at first light. Over 90% of the sightings of Gannet, Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull and Guillemot were recorded on the second day. Significant numbers of birds were seen flying towards four fishing boats.

As the day drew to a close, we reflected on the several small groups of Starlings seen, 14 in total, all travelling towards the English coast and many of them landing for a while on the ship.


Our thanks to DFDS Seaways and the crew of Fionia Seaways.                                                                                                            Rainbow (Elaine Cursons)
                                                                                             


Elaine Cursons and Lucie Bernardova; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS Seaways 'Jutlandia Seaways' 8th-11th October 2013

Posted 22 October 2013

Jonathan Butterfield and Ross Wheeler; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward journey, wind westerly, force 3-4; with north east, force 6 wind and sea state 9 on the return leg

Summary of Sightings:
Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Small Dolphin Sp. 2

Seabirds:
Gannet Morus bassanus 264
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Common Gull Larus canus 53
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Large Gull Sp. 11
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 4
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Auk Sp. 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 184
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 519
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 8
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Duck Sp. 4

Terrestrial Birds:
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Chaffinch Fingilla coelebs 1
Redpoll 1
Greylag Goose Anser anser 1
Small passerine Sp. 5  

We were welcomed aboard the Jutlandia Seaways by Captain Thomas Malmberg and his crew and treated to a welcome evening meal. The ship departed on schedule after sunset so no surveying was possible.

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast we arrived on the bridge at first light for a day of surveying. A relatively calm winter North Sea waited, as did a Sooty Shearwater gliding perfectly over the waves in the morning light. This was followed by sightings of a Harbour Porpoise surfacing very close to the ship and some small dolphins in the distance. By midday, sightings had slowed, but this Baltic Gullwas an ideal opportunity to practice gull identification on the Great Black-backed and Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull, that were riding up-drafts created by the ferry.  Bird numbers increased as Esbjerg came into sight with the gulls and Gannet coming thick and fast with a huge flock of five hundred Common Scoter being the highlight. 

Even though the tide was out in Esbjerg and the large sand flats that boarder the town were exposed none of the resident seals could be seen, presumably they had gone for a bite to eat.  We disembarked in Esbjerg and took the short walk to Svend Wiig Hansen's  sculpture; 'man meets the sea', that watches over the entrance to Esbjerg harbour and Fano Island.

Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

On return to the ship, we learned that gale force winds had developed in the North Sea and that the ferry would set off several hours later the next morning: not to worry, more time for surveying!

Distant-Fulmar CFWDue to the weather, Captain Malmberg took us 160km north to the tip of Denmark before a perfectly timed left turn brought us in line with the wind and allowed the ship to track the storm south. As you may expect the sea state had increased considerably, not that this deterred the Fulmar and Gannet that seemed to relish conditions, soaring up near vertical waves before plunging into the water.

The start of the second day's survey gave us lots of opportunity for aging Gannet and despite poor visibility; an adult and juvenile Harbour Porpoise were sighted. The afternoon saw several migrating birds such as Chaffinch; Siskin and Redpoll use the ship's cargo deck as a welcome break from the weather, even a Dunlin appeared on deck. Highlights of the day included a small flock of Velvet Scoter, which were nice to see after so many Common Scoter the previous day and a Cormorant in the middle of the North Sea most likely blown away from land with the strong NE winds.

Fulmar (Carol Farmer-Wright)     

We retired for the evening and upon waking, had returned safe back in Immingham. Unfortunately, we were unable to survey Spurn Point, as it was still dark on arrival in the Humber.  


Our thanks to DFDS Seaways and the crew of Jutlandia Seaways.

Jonathan Butterfield and Ross Wheeler Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS Seaways 'Fionia Seaways' 17th to 19th September 2013

Posted 22 September 2013

Philip Espin and Colin Gill; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: wind NNW force 3 dying down to a 1 outbound; with force 5 N wind on the return leg

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 2

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1055
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 21
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 10
Gannet Morus bassanus 170
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus  6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 306
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 584
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 196
Razorbill Alca torda 8
Little Auk Alle alle 1

Sooty ShearwaterWe were welcomed aboard the Fionia Seaways by Captain Arturas Klimovas and his crew and treated to a welcome evening meal. The ship departed on schedule after sunset so no surveying was possible.

At first light the next morning, the view from the bridge revealed a quiet north sea but we were treated to excellent views of a single Manx and two separate Sooty Shearwater in our first half hour.  The morning gave us good numbers of Gannet of all ages, with small numbers of Kittiwake, Guillemot, Fulmar, 2 Great Skua and a single Arctic Skua.  Bird numbers picked up as Esbjerg came into view with over a thousand Common Scoter and 300 Herring Gull in inshore waters.

Sooty Shearwater (Adrian Shephard)

No cetaceans were seen on the outward leg with only a single Grey Seal as we came into the approaches to Esbjerg Harbour.  High tide meant no sand banks and no basking seals.  Of 1,523 birds on the outward leg, 67% were Common Scoter and a further 20% Herring Gull.  A brief walk into Esbjerg revealed a very neat and tidy high street dominated by retail clothing outlets and banks.  We returned to the vessel and entered our day's data.

GuillemotThe return leg would have been even quieter if it had not been for the "Outer Silver Pit".  In this sea area, we were greeted by a bright and beautiful morning with several large flocks of feeding Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemots with 5 attendant Arctic Skua.  Two surprise birds were a summer plumaged Little Auk which flew across the bow and a dark juvenile Long-tailed Skua.  The feeding flocks raised our expectations for cetaceans and we were treated to a brief but close view of 3 Harbour Porpoise and 2 Common Seal.

Guillemot (Graham Ekins)

As we approached the English coast bird numbers dropped away to nothing and once past Spurn Point fog closed in.  There were 870 birds logged on the return leg with Kittiwake making up 65%, Guillemot 17% and Gannet 14%.


Our thanks to DFDS Seaways and the crew of Fionia Seaways.

Philip Espin and Colin Gill Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS Seaways “Jutlandia Seaways” 27th – 29th August 2013

Posted 02 September 2013

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Wind NE 2-3 outbound with WSW 3-4 on the return






Summary of Sightings

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 22
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 22
 
Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 16
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 16
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 94
Great Skua Stercorarius skua  1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 12
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 8
Common Gull Larus canus  5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 40
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 18
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus  6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1324
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 17
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea  7
Puffin Fratercula arctica 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 1007
Razorbill Alca torda 8

Terrestrial Birds:
Sanderling Calidris alba 12

We were welcomed aboard the Jutlandia Seaways by Captain Mart Tarang and his crew and treated to a welcome evening meal. With the ship departing in the late evening no surveying was possible.

Juv-Gannet-Moult
We were on the bridge at first light the next morning and were picking up small numbers of Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot. A couple of Arctic and a Great Skua were noted and mid morning a single 'Blue' Fulmar drifted close to the bow of the ship. Despite our best efforts we failed to observe any cetaceans on this leg of the survey.

As we approached the Danish coast, small numbers of Sandwich and Common Tern were seen and two flocks totalling 23 of Common Scoter flew by. As we entered the Fano Island channel

large numbers of Black-headed Gull took advantage of the Jutlandia's wake to feed on displaced Sand Eels. 20 Grey Seal were hauled out on the north side of the channel and 2nd calendar year Mediterranean Gull was observed in Esbjerg harbour.  

Seals


After reloading, we were heading back into the North Sea just after nightfall. Again we were on the bridge at dawn the following day and started picking up a few Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot. As we approached the southern Dogger Bank our first Harbour Porpoise was seen.

Flocks of Kittiwake of between 60 and 100 birds were being noted and whilst looking at one flock a blow and subsequent break in the water displaying our only Minke Whale. During the next hour and a half we logged another 21 Harbour Porpoise and large rafts of Guillemot totalling over a thousand and slightly more than that number of Kittiwake.

4 white-menOther birds of note were 2 Manx and 2 Sooty Shearwater, 6 Little Gull, 1 Pomarine and 10 Arctic Skua. The latter species were having a field day chasing the Kittiwake! The areas where most of the activity was noted are named on the charts as The Outer Dowsing Extension and the Inner Well Bank Rough, the latter only having a depth of 25 metres. Just before we sighted English shores the ship was overtaken by a flock of 12 Sanderling making their way to the Lincolnshire coast. A couple of Grey Seal were noted at the mouth of the Humber just before we terminated the survey.


Our thanks and gratitude go the staff, both onshore and ship based, who helped us make this another successful survey



Cliff Morrison and Dick Lorand; Research Surveyors for MARINElife.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Esbjerg, DFDS “Jutlandia” 16th to 18th July 2013

Posted 23 July 2013

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Variable winds force 1 - 2






Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 108
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata  7 + 1 probable
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus  109
Common Seal Phoca vitulina  3

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra  79
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis  306
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus  115
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo  35
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus  6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus  8
Common Gull Larus canus 41
Herring Gull Larus argentatus  24
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus  157
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus  13
Little Gull  Hydrocoloeus minutus 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla  420
Little Tern Sterna albifrons  2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis  4
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 13
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea  8
"Commic" Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 12
Black Tern Chlidonias niger  2
Puffin Fratercula arctica  2
Guillemot Uria aalge  3995
Razorbill Alca torda 22
Auk sp 16

Terrestrial Birds
Curlew Numenius arquata  1
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus  8

We were efficiently taken onboard the Jutlandia and welcomed on board by Captain Tarang and his very friendly crew. Half an hour after we had slipped our moorings, we were on the bridge surveying to just beyond the Humber mouth before dusk. Apart from the usual estuary Gulls singles of Sandwich Tern and Curlew were noted.

Fulmar-ASOnto the bridge by 05:00 we had calm conditions so expectations were high. Within five minutes we had our first pod of 4 Harbour Porpoise with regular sightings of up to six for the next three hours. Our daily count totalled 29, sadly we spotted a badly decomposed small cetacean (Dolphin sp) but it was feeding 4 Fulmar that were in attendance. Seabirds did not disappoint either with good numbers of Guillemot with many accompanying smaller juveniles. Singles of Puffin and Manx Shearwater were noted and 2 elegant Black Tern headed north. It was good to see numerous Fulmar and Gannet, the latter being mainly immatures. As we approached Denmark the seabirds were replaced to more coastal species and we noted small numbers Common, Arctic and Little Tern. 89 Grey and 2 Common Seals were noted on the Fano Island sand bars, plus 60 Bar-tailed Godwit and 150 Oystercatcher.

MinkeWe managed to input our data and catch up with some rest while the ship was discharging and reloading in Esbjerg. Just over an hour of surveying was done before dusk when we logged 148 Lesser Black-backed Gull and met our new captain Thomas Malmberg.

Back on the bridge for 5am and the sea was like a millpond. The first cetaceans were seen within three quarters of an hour, 2 Minke Whale just 500 metres from the ship with 2 Gannet and a Fulmar in attendance. We recorded 2 more pairs of Minkes plus a single and a probable.

This was followed by regular sightings of Harbour Porpoise, usually in twos and threes but we did record a pod of 16.

Grey SealWith flat calm conditions individuals that were close to the ship could be observed swimming under water. A total of 79 were logged during the crossing, it could have been more had it not been for about 45 minutes of thick fog that thwarted our observations. Seabirds were again in good numbers; the majority becalmed and were resting on the water. We recorded nearly 3500 Guillemot, 239 Fulmar and 420 Kittiwake. The latter species was seen being harried by 5 Arctic Skua.

8 Whimbrel were noted heading westward and a total of 14 Little Gulls were feeding nimbly over the mirrored waters. The seabirds were once again replaced by Common and Herring Gulls as we entered the Humber where we noted about 20 Grey Seals.

Once again our gratitude and thanks go to staff at DFDS and the very friendly crew of the Jutlandia for making this an excellent and rewarding survey.

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS ‘Jutlandia Seaways’ 7th-9th June 2013

Posted 22 June 2013

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife 
Weather: Eastbound NE 3-4. Westbound NE backing NW 2-3

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 46
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 6

Seabirds:
Common Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 8
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 18
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus 50
Great Skua Stercorarius skua  1
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 169
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 29
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 250
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 15
Guillemot Uria aalge 59
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Terrestrial Birds:
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaoto 2

The new procedure of parking at the Mayflower House then checking in proved very successful and were soon chauffeured onboard and escorted to our cabin by our hospitable crew. After our evening meal we were heading out the Humber accompanied by Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull and at the mouth of the estuary a few Gannet and Kittiwake.

Fulmar 4Up early the next morning saw us surveying by 05:00. Despite our best efforts birds were not abundant with only small numbers of Fulmar, Gannet and Kittiwake being seen with any regularity. Surprisingly no auks were noted; presumably most birds would be nesting on the English east coast cliffs. About 30 miles from Esbjerg a brief sighting was had of a pair of Harbour Porpoise. Fortunately birds became more common as we approached the Danish coast. It was particularly nice to see Common, Arctic and Sandwich Tern flying past the ship as we approached Fano Island. A party of 8 Common Scoter was a late sighting and 5 Common Seal were hauled out on the beach of Fano.

Common and Arctic Tern were watched flying around Esbjerg harbour while the ship discharged and reloaded and we were back on the westward journey by 20:00 logging a few Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gull before retiring for the night.

Back on the bridge at 05:00 saw the sea being a little more settled so hopes were high of more cetaceans today. The first Porpoise was seen at 06:45 and then at 08:30 for the next couple of hours we were noting them regularly with 44 being noted for the day.

Great Skua 3The largest pod was six and the sightings were enjoyed by the crew. Birds were much more prolific today with good and regular numbers of Gannet, Fulmar and Kittiwake numbers being 40, 18 and 237 respectively. Auks were back in evidence with 59 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill seen. A single Great Skua afforded good views as it flew close to the bridge windows. Most surprisingly was a pair of Collared Dove flying around the bridge about 20 miles east of Spurn before taking off in the direction of an oil rig. On entering the Humber good numbers of Herring Gull were noted as we were skillfully taken along the shipping channel and safely berthed at Immingham.

Once again our thanks to the port staff at DFDS, Captain Mart Tarang and his very helpful and friendly crew for helping us with a very useful and enjoyable survey.

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS ‘Jutlandia seaways’ 12th-14th April 2013

Posted 17 April 2013

Dick Lorand: Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: N-NE 2-3 misty. Westbound: NW backing SW 4-7 misty, drizzle clearing later

 

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 38
Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 4
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 2

Seabirds:
Common Eider Somateria mollissima 6
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 8
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 3359
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 41
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 2
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus 57
Common Gull Larus canus 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 24
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 21
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 11
Little Gull Larus minutus 3
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 93
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 4
Common Guillemot Uria aalge 42
Razorbill Alca torda 98
Unidentified Auk Sp. 4

Terrestrial Birds:
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope 2
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca 3
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 2
Blackbird Turdus merula 3
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 29
Curlew Numenius arquata 4
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 21
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis 1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 9
Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus 14
Woodcock Scolopax rusticola 1
Sand Martin Riparia riparia 2
Swallow Hirundo rustica

After collecting my ticket from the gatehouse, I was taken aboard the 'Jutlandia Seaways' and treated to a delicious evening meal. The ship left at 20:00 hours in rather misty conditions.

ChaffinchI was on the bridge at 05:45, just being able to see the stern of the ship in very poor visibility. The first birds to be seen were a flock of 14 Waxwing flying around the bow. They were the first of a number of passerines flying towards the continent. As the fog cleared small numbers of Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwake were noted and 3 Little Gull were a pleasure to see. 40 miles from land, a pair of Wigeon and 3 Teal were resting on the sea. Just after 06:30, the first pod of Harbour Porpoise were noted with 4 off the port side. These were followed by another 14 sightings of small pods, the largest being 5, at intervals up to the Danish coast totalling 37 individuals; the calm weather made observing them much easier. 4 singles of Grey Seal were noted during the crossing. Small flocks of Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit rested on the DFDS trailers before heading east and I was surprised to see a Woodcock flying along the starboard of the ship and a single Snow Bunting low over the sea.


Kittiwake by GEWith the Danish coast approaching, rafts of Common Scoter totalled over 3,350, along with 8 Velvet Scoter, 6 Eider, 2 Pochard, 1 Sandwich Tern, 4 Arctic Tern, 2 Black-throated and 40 Red-throated Diver. On the sand flats approaching Esbjerg were a group of c350 Oystercatcher and 20 Bar-tailed Godwit. It was worth noting that after the survey finished at 13:50 hours, 14 Common Tern were noted in the harbour at 13:55.

Back on the bridge at 05:45 the next morning, weather conditions were not good with continuous drizzle, poor visibility and a stiff NW wind. Fortunately, the rain stopped and visibility continued to improve. Seabirds were in bigger numbers today and with similar species to the day before; 42 Gannet, 36 Guillemot and 89 of both Kittiwake and Razorbill. Whilst looking at a Gannet sitting on the water, a single Harbour Porpoise broke the surface near the bird. That was the only cetacean sighting on the return leg. On entering the Humber, 2 Sand Martin and a Swallow made their way up river and 2 Common Seal were hauled out on the north side near Sunk Island.

Because of low water and high winds, 2 tugs had to slowly edge us into port.

This very enjoyable survey was made even better by the help and hospitality of Captain Mart Tarang and his crew, to whom I thank for looking after me so well.

Dick Lorand: Research Surveyor for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 9th-10th March 2013

Posted 14 March 2013

Steve Morgan and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife 

Weather: Outbound: ENE 5-7 Inbound: NNE 6-7

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 8

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 838
Eider Somateria mollissima 144
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 17
Gannet Morus bassanus 172
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 464
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 91
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 45
Guillemot Uria aalge 79
Common Gull Larus canus 27
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Unidentified auks 3
Unidentified gulls 52
Unidentified divers 12

Terrestrial Birds:
Curlew Numenius arquata 73
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 383

Arriving at Immingham on the Friday evening, we were quickly checked in and boarded by the helpful officer at the Gate House. Our ship, the Fionia Seaways, departed on schedule at 20.30 (CET).

We were unable to make a prompt start the next morning due to an overnight deterioration in the weather, but soon enough the rough conditions eased and the Officer of the Watch invited us up to the bridge. We were greeted by hazy sunshine and good visibility when we began the survey at 12.45.

Redthroat Diver 1Immediately, a Red-throated Diver appeared, followed by several Guillemot. Later, as we drew nearer the Danish coast, we encountered astonishing numbers of Common Scoter, together with a lone Velvet Scoter. Just offshore of Esbjerg, we found impressive numbers of Eider, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher and Curlew. In Esbjerg itself, Common Gulls wheeled overhead as the captain slowly guided the ship into its berth.

Conditions the next day allowed us to make an immediate start after breakfast and, as we crossed the North Sea, we regularly recorded Gannet, Guillemot and Kittiwake. A trawler, eight hundred metres to starboard, had attracted squadrons of seabirds, including over eighty Gannet and a hundred or more Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.

We glimpsed Harbour Porpoise on four occasions, their blunt dorsal fins momentarily visible as black wedges in the grey swell. Each time, the animals surfaced just once or twice before disappearing in longer dives.

PorpsAs we neared the English coast, Gannet and Guillemot became scarcer and, instead, we started finding divers, (probably all Red-throated), hurrying across the surface of the water. Finally, we entered the Humber estuary and slowed almost to a standstill in compliance with local speed restrictions. While we idled along at a sedate five or six knots, we were treated to one last cetacean sighting. Incredibly, in the murky brown waters of the Humber, two Harbour Porpoises appeared directly ahead of our bows. Apparently ignoring our vessel, they moved nonchalantly to our starboard side where the captain joined us in gazing down at this unlikely duo, barely thirty metres away.

A special mention must go to the captain and his crew who could hardly have made us more welcome, showing us where to take readings from the ship's instruments, providing us with comfortable chairs and allowing us endless cups of tea and coffee.

Steve Morgan and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg, DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 11th-13th January 2013

Posted 18 January 2013

Francesco Germi, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound (12th Jan): ENE 3 Westbound (13th Jan): WSW 2

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Unidentified dolphin Sp. 3

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1,275
Eider Somateria mollissima 20
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 39
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 37
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 67
Guillemot Uria aalge 122
Common Gull Larus canus 76
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 1

I was warmly welcomed aboard the 'Fiona Seaways' in the late afternoon by the friendly crew, and was provided a hearty dinner. The ship left Immingham's docks at 20.30, heading east out of the River Humber and in the North Sea, towards the east and Denmark.

After a good night's sleep and an early breakfast, I climbed to the bridge where the Captain made me welcome and I began my survey. Bird recording started with a mix of Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet and Kittiwake. The daytime crossing over the North Sea was very smooth and the sea condition almost optimal for a winter's day. The morning passed quietly with sightings of Fulmar and juvenile Herring Gull cruising lazily alongside the ship.

Common ScoterAfter a quick break for lunch, in the early afternoon, an almost uninterrupted string of Common Scoter rafts dotted the seascape in front of the ship. I counted nearly 1,300 Common Scoter in one and a half hours, by far the highest number for this species I ever had in a single day!

As the coastline of Denmark slowly appeared on the horizon, the Common Scoter continued to dominate my counting effort; other coastal species such as Eider, Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser clearly indicated that we were approaching land. We entered Esbjerg's bay at low tide in the early afternoon and after docking, I had enough time for a pleasant walk in town, where I visited the very interesting Fisheries and Maritime Museum.

The return voyage had an even calmer sea than the previous day, a real Porpsbonus for mid-winter in the North Sea! The morning produced a pod of four Harbour Porpoise, sighted well as they surfaced several times in the calm sea, and then three unidentified dolphin species, possibly White-beaked.

As we got further out to sea we began to see Kittiwake in good numbers, a mix of other gull species, Fulmar, Gannet, and a Red-throated Diver. Numerous rafts of Guillemot, all migrating south, streamed ahead of the vessel, probably escaping the cold weather forecast for the east coast of Britain from today. In the early afternoon, we approached Spurn Head and the Humber, where large numbers of Common Gull and Great Black-backed Gull came into sight. We docked at Immingham in perfect timing in the mid-afternoon.


On behalf of MARINElife, I would like to thank DFDS for their continued support with this survey.

Francesco Germi, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Esbjerg, DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 7th-9th December 2012

Posted 17 December 2012

Cheryl Leaning and Jenny Boatwright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife 

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 40
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Unidentified dolphin Sp. 6
Unidentified cetacean Sp. 1

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1276
Eider Somateria mollissima 26
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 72
Gannet Morus bassanus 9
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 8
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 74
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 127
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 106
Guillemot Uria aalge 56
Unidentified Auk Sp. 7
Unidentified Diver Sp. 1
Unidentified large Gull Sp. 2
Unidentified Gull Sp. 40

Terrestrial Birds:
Whooper Swan Cygnus Cygnus 1
Curlew Numenius arquata  4

On arriving at Immingham, we were efficiently checked in and taken on board the 'Fionia Seaways' where were welcomed with an evening meal before retiring for an early night.

Eider fmWe slept well, but in our eagerness were up well before light. After a hearty breakfast, we were welcomed onto the bridge at dawn. We spent a lovely calm crossing recording Fulmar, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Lesser Black-backed Gull and the occasional Gannet. As we neared the Danish coast, the sea conditions became mirror calm and we had eight cetacean sightings including Harbour Porpoise and dolphins, as well as two Grey Seal. As we travelled up the main channel towards Esbjerg, we were treated to the splendid sight of sea ice, whilst watching flocks of Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, and Common Eider flying past.

After docking we watched Common Gull taking advantage of the stirred up areas caused by the vessel, and admired the frozen coastline.

Guillemot summer 1We rose on Sunday morning at dawn, and after another excellent early breakfast, we were once again welcomed onto the bridge. We watched numerous Fulmar flying through the waves, as well as spotting the occasional Guillemot and Gannet. Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull became more frequent as we neared Spurn Head.

As we left the bridge, we thanked Captain Arturas Klimovas for the hospitality shown by him and his crew. We were welcomed into the port of Immingham by the sight of a flock of Starlings flying past the boat.

We would like to thank DFDS for their continued support for this survey.

Cheryl Leaning and Jenny Boatwright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884) 

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Esbjerg, DFDS ‘Fionia Seaways’ 10th-11th November 2012

Posted 18 November 2012

Graham Ekins and Dave Miller, MARINElife Research Surveyors 

Weather: Eastbound: S 3-4, heavy cloud layer, initially dry, but light rain from 100nm east of Danish coast.
Westbound: WSW-W 3, decreasing cloud and excellent visibility.

Cetaceans and Seals:
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 5
Common (Harbour) Seal Phoca vitulina 40
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds:
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata  7
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra  126
Eider Somateria mollissima 77
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 101
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 113
Common Gull Larus canus  382
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 358
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 138
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 181
Guillemot Uria aalge 126
Razorbill Alca torda  138
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Little Auk Alle alle 8

Terrestrial Birds:
Whooper Swan Cygnus Cygnus 6
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus 22
Dark-belled Brent Goose  Branta bernicla bernicla  7
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis  12
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 12
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 20
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata  31
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 35
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 3
Dunlin Calidris alpina  8
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros 2
Skylark Alauda arvensis  1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 33
Blackbird Turdus merula 4
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris  4
Redwing Turdus iliacus  14
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos  1

On arriving at the DFDS check-in office at Immingham, we were rapidly issued with our boarding tickets and taken to the impressive Fionia Seaways. Here the purser showed us to our roomy cabin and then served us with a hearty meal. We were then taken to meet Captain Eibert Franson who said we were welcome on the bridge from dawn the following morning.

Common SealFrom dawn, we were busy recording Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake and Gannet as well as 2 flocks of Common Scoter heading rapidly south. We also had a Common Seal over 130nm from the nearest land.  Over the western edge of the German Bight we started to see passerines passing the ship or dropping briefly on deck before continuing south. They included Black Redstart, Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfares a Song Thrush and a Skylark. By now the sea depth had increased to 40m and it was at this point that we had great views of 3 White-beaked Dolphin that crossed the bows before turning and disappearing into the depths. For the next hour we also saw several adult Little Gull as well as three more flocks of Common Scoter. As we approached the North Frisian Islands, visible migration was still in evident with several Red-throated Diver, more flocks of Common Scoter and a few Eider.   As we travelled up the main channel towards Esbjerg we were kept busy counting a large group of Common Seal on a nearby sand bank and a little further on, 50 Eider busy diving for molluscs on the dropping tide while 12 Barnacle Geese graced the shoreline.  Large numbers of northern argentatus Herring Gull were in the harbour alongside many Common and a fewer Greater Black-backed Gull.

After docking, Captain Eibert Franson gave us permission to leave the ship. We spent 1.5 hours exploring the area to the south of the port until the light began to fade. We saw several handsome grey and black Hooded Crow and a flock of Blackbird, Redwing and Fieldfare busy feeding at the edge of a patch of flooded grassland and scrub.

We rose on Sunday morning at dawn, after an excellent early breakfast we were delighted to see the sun, little cloud and WB Dolphinexcellent visibility.  Almost immediately a bull grey Seal came into view and 30 minutes later 2 White-beaked Dolphin cut across the bows only 200 metres from the boat. Over the next 3 hours, we logged good numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet and Great Black-backed Gull, as well as the occasional Red-throated Diver and Fulmar.  In addition, 2 Great Skua crossed the ship heading south-west. As we steadily steamed westward Gannet numbers increased, then 40nm off The Humber we started to see Little Auk; for the next 50 minutes we logged a total of 8 of these delightful birds.  Recent strong northerlies had displaced large numbers into the North Sea from their breeding grounds on Spitsbergen. 
As we approached the Humber, Starling and Redwing overtook the boat heading west while 22 Pinkfeet, 7 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a flock of 17 Eider headed south towards Lincolnshire. We also had distant views of a family of 6 Whooper Swan on the sea off Spurn Point.

As we passed into the Humber, we were greeted by a stupendous spectacle far to the west of thousands of large waders heading south towards Lincolnshire; presumably, the local wintering population of Bar-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover moving over high tide. We also had several groups of waders crossing the bows and many gulls feeding in the wake of passing ships before we docked late afternoon.

As we left the bridge we thanked Captain Eibert Franson for the hospitality shown by him and his crew. He and his officers had been very interested in our various sightings during this very enjoyable survey.

We would like to thank DFDS for their continued support for this survey.  

Graham Ekins and Dave Miller; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Jutlandia Seaways' 7th-9th September 2012

Posted 19 September 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright and Jenny Boatwright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Cetaceans and Seals:
Common Seal Phoca vitulina with Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 325 (hauled out)
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 67
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 193
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 136
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 71
Black-Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 15
Common Gull Larus canus 670
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 364
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 131
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 312
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 216
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 31
Puffin Fratercula arctica 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 648
Mixed gull sp 4000
Unidentified auk Sp 4
Unidentified tern Sp 13
Unidentified skua Sp 1
Unidentified gull Sp 1
Unidentified Larus Sp 100

Terrestrial Birds:
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa 1
Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 97
Redshank Tringa totanus 53
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra 1
Unidentified duck Sp 15
Unidentified godwit Sp 112
Unidentified plover Sp 59
Unidentified wader Sp 49
Unidentified wagtail Sp 1
Unidentified warbler Sp 2

Puffin run 2We travelled up to Immingham in bright sunshine and were quickly escorted to the vessel, settled into our cabin and given an evening meal before the engines started up. We were welcomed by the captain to the bridge after leaving the docking basin and spent thirty minutes surveying on the river Humber before the lack of daylight forced us to retire for the evening.

We slept well and arose early in the morning and rejoined the bridge crew at 6a.m. Within an hour we had passed through a group of Kittiwake and had occasional sightings of Fulmar, Gannet and Guillemot.

Small migrants had alighted on the ship; a warbler, either a Chiffchaff or a Willow Warbler flitted around the bridge area and a Whinchat had also hitched a ride.

As we neared Esbjerg we could see many birds on the shoreline around Fano. Amongst their number were Oystercatcher, Godwit, Great Black-Backed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Redshank and Plover.

We then docked at Esbjerg in the sunshine and watched birds taking advantage of the vessel stirring up the silt. Earlier in the year Common Tern and Arctic Tern had been in this area. 

Common Seal

Now a group of Common Gull were feeding there. We decided to stay on board and input the data we had recorded on our eastbound trip.

Thanks to the efficiency of the crew the ship was ready to depart earlier than scheduled and we were able to survey for a further hour before the sun set. During this time we passed by one of the Common and Grey Seal colonies that are found on the coast. Over 200 animals were hauled out on the sandbank there.

We returned to the bridge early the next morning 145 miles east of Spurn Head just to the north of the Cleaver Bank. Here we saw Gannet, Kittiwake and Fulmar. Three hours into our survey we started seeing regular groups of Guillemot on the water. These sightings continued for the next three hours. Gannet, Fulmar and Common Gull were seen sporadically and Great and Lesser Black-Backed Gull became more frequent as we neared Spurn Head.

As we approached Immingham dock we thanked Captain Thomas Malmberg, his officers and crew for their hospitality during our survey. We would also like to thank DFDS Seaways for giving us this survey opportunity.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Jenny Boatwright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Jutlandia Seaways' 10th-12th August 2012

Posted 20 August 2012

John Perry and Jonathan Butterfield; MARINElife Research Surveyors

Cetaceans
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 9
Common Seal 1
Unidentified Seal Sp 67

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 200
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 161
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 30
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Black-Headed Gull Larus ridibundus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 31
Lesser Black-Backed Gull Larus fuscus 105
Great Black-Back Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 278
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 68
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 2
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 154
Puffin Fratercula arctica 28
Guillemot Uria aalge 364
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Unidentified Auk Sp 20

Terrestrial Birds
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 4
Redpoll 1
Feral Pigeon 1
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 1
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 1
Unidentified Wader Sp 1 

Harbour Porpoise 2Friday 10th August: Departing Immingham

It was a warm summers evening when after a smooth passage though the DFDS gate we were welcomed aboard the 'Jutlandia Seaways' by the friendly crew. After a hearty meal, we decided to turn in, to prepare for the following days survey.

Saturday 11th August: Immingham to Esbjerg

We arrived on the bridge just before dawn to watch the sunrise over the North Sea and settled into a relaxing survey with good sightings of soaring Fulmars, many immature Gannets and plenty of tea and biscuits. Halfway through the day as the sea approached a mirror like calm, we had the pleasure of several close sightings of harbour porpoise.    

On entering the picturesque Jutland peninsula, acrobatic sandwich terns came to greet us and set against a background of renewable energy a large amount of dozing seals had hauled out on one of the numerous sandbars

SunsetOn getting into harbour, we decided to take a stroll around Esbjerg in the afternoon sun, after stopping to enjoy festivities in the town square and a quick detour to pick up some of Denmark's various pickled delights we boarded the 'Jutlandia' to start data entry.

Sunday 12th august: Esbjerg to Immingham

Once more on the bridge at first light, we watched as the sun came up and were treated to a small flock of our first Common Scoter, along with many immature Gannets hitching a ride on the updrafts of the ship. The rest of the day, passed much as the first with the addition of large rafts and feeding frenzies of Kittiwakes, Gannets, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Guillemots, often fathers with their young. Other highlights included finding a Redpoll in the middle of the North Sea, sizeable flocks of commic turns dip feeding as they effortlessly flew by and an Arctic Skua.

As Spurn point came into view on the horizon, a number of passerines off the ship took flight heading east. We managed to increase our species total further by finally getting some great views of some Arctic terns.  

Overall we had a productive survey and are most grateful to DFDS, Capt. Juri Adamson and the crew for the Jutlandia Seaways for their generosity and hospitality.

John Perry and Jonathan Butterfield Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Jutlandia Seaways' 13th-15th July 2012

Posted 20 July 2012

Duncan Fyfe, Graham Ekins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: NW 2-3 variable low cloud; Westbound: NW-SW 3 sunny with variable light, high cloud; short period mid-North Sea with light rain showers.

Cetaceans:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 2
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus alnirostris 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Common (Harbour) Seal Phoca vitulina 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 11 +61 on sandbank Esbjerg
 
Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 56
Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 110   
Gannet Morus bassanus 144
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 12
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 292
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Arctic Skua Stecorarius parasiticus 3
Great Skua (Bonxie)  Stecorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 18
Common Gull Larus canus 43
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 47
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus  82
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 810
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutes 3
Larus Gull Sp. 2
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 1
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 32
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 36
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 145

Terrestrial Birds:
Teal Anas crecca  2
Shelduck  Tadorna tadorna 17
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 19

Migrant birds on/around ship:
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 9
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 3
Curlew Numenius arquata 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5
Swift Apus apus 4

 

On arrival at Immingham Dock we were issued with our boarding tickets by the Harbour Porpoise 1very efficient DFDS Administration Manager.  As we left the office a vehicle was already waiting to take us to the very smart Jutlandia Seaways.  On board we were given keys to our bright, clean and well-appointed cabin and after a very welcome hot meal we were taken to meet Captain Thomas Malmberg who made us very welcome on his bridge.  We started recording as the ship entered the main channel in the Humber Estuary and almost immediately Duncan found a Harbour Porpoise just west of Spurn Point.  As we travelled east we encountered small numbers of Common Gulls, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We left the bridge at 22.00 and quickly retired to bed as it was to be an early start in the morning.

Morning dawned bright and clear, with just a few scattered clouds. We started to see several Guillemots, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and primarily immature    Gannets. A scan of birds following a trawler resulted in a count of 50 Fulmars alongside Greater Black-backed Gulls and many Gannets. Late morning we saw the first of several migrating Arctic Terns heading rapidly SW, incredible to Arctic Ternthink that in less than a month they would be in the South Atlantic heading for Antarctic waters. We continued to log Guillemots, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Gannets until we approached Esbjerg Harbour. A couple of nm offshore we recorded 3 flocks of Common Scoter heading purposefully south, of which the majority were males, most likely heading for moulting grounds off north Holland. 

After docking at Esbjerg we were given permission to go ashore by Captain Malmberg and so we went for a walk and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours in warm, sunny and breezy conditions.  The woodlands were quiet but a large area of grassland revealed many Meadow Brown butterflies and a doe Roe Deer as well as close views of family parties of Rooks and Jackdaws. 
As we left the harbour that evening, we passed very close to a group of 61 Grey Seals hauled out on a sandbank, some were impressively large bulls, and in addition a few others were noted close to the shipping lanes.   Further out to sea we saw a flock of 9 Grey Herons heading high to the south and another flock of Common Scoters. Nearby an area of disturbed water had 78 Sandwich Terns feeding over it. Further offshore we had 2 Whimbrel overtake the ship heading SW, by then it was 22.00 and time to retire in preparation for another early start in the morning.

The morning dawned bright and clear, with a force 3 NNW wind and almost immediately we started to see family parties of Guillemots with well grown chicks. Judging from the numbers seen they have had a good breeding season.  We also saw large numbers of adult Grey SealsKittiwakes heading south, presumably breeding birds from colonies on the NE coast of the UK. A large flock of circling seabirds suggested that Cetaceans were feeding below, so we were therefore delighted to see two Bottle-nosed Dolphins crossing the bow of the ship heading north. We continued to record large numbers of Guillemot families, adult Kittiwakes and various age immature Gannets and as we travelled west we also had both adult and winter plumage Puffins, a Razorbill, 3 Arctic Skuas and a couple of Manx Shearwaters.  We also had regular sightings of adult Common, Lesser Black-backed and 3 Little Gulls heading west, presumably undergoing post-breeding migration to the UK. With the increased numbers of seabirds we also started to observe Cetaceans, this included two sightings of White-beaked Dolphins, one of which breached close to the ship. We also saw a small group of Common Dolphins actively fishing and surrounded by a large flock of seabirds.  Seabird numbers decreased rapidly as we neared Spurn Point; however, we saw several Grey and one Common Seal to add to the total. As we passed west up the Humber we had a flock of Shelducks flying in formation past the ship and a flock of 4 Swifts heading rapidly south, we also had several adult Common Gulls, presumably recently returned from their Baltic breeding grounds.

As we left the bridge we thanked Captain Malmberg and his officers for their hospitality and friendliness during the survey.  We also thanked the chef for the excellent meals. 

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways for their continued support of the surveys on this route.

Duncan Fyfe and Graham Ekins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Esbjerg ‘Fionia Seaways’ 8th - 10th June

Posted 20 June 2012

Cheryl Leaning, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound 6-8 SSW, Westbound 2-8 W-WSW

Cetaceans:
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 22

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 28
Gannet Morus bassanus 93
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 224+
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 101+
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 98
Common Tern Sterna hirundo12+
Guillemot Uria aalge 75
Razorbill Alca torda

Terrestrial Birds
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6
Racing Pigeon 1
Unidentifed Small Wader sp. 100+

It hardly seemed that a month had passed since my first trip to Esbjerg aboard the Fionia Seaways yet here I was being greeted by an officer who I recognised after being whisked aboard by the friendly and efficient DFDS security staff.

It was not possible to gain access to the bridge until the following morning so after a hearty dinner enjoyed by myself and my fellow truck drivers, I collapsed into my comfortable cabin and set the alarm. I was aware of little else until 3.10am BST.

The officer who had carried my bags to my cabin was on duty on the bridge as the first signs of light began to rise in the distance.

Kittiwake juv 5

The sky heavy with cloud and the sea whipped up by the strong winds, it was immediately apparent that today was unlikely to be awash with whales, however Gannets, Kittiwakes and Fulmars were in abundance. I was puzzling over a number of lesser-black backed gulls before I realised they were the ever present kittiwakes made artificially darker in the early gloom.

Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls started to put in an appearance along with Common Tern, Scoter and Oystercatcher as we neared the Danish coast. Poor visibility and the gusting gale meant fewer feeders on the Fano mudflats. A grey heron stood proud amongst a flock of smaller little brown waders.

I didn't brave the Danish elements once in port but rather caught up on my abbreviated sleep noticing the many resident Black-headed Gulls, Common and Arctic Terns as I closed my porthole curtains. I was woken only once by the smiling stewardess who handed me a warm Danish pastry and informed me dinner would be served before leaving port for the return journey.

Guillemot summer 1I rejoined the Captain and crew back on the bridge as we navigated the boiling channel out of Esbjerg. The rain was now heavy and continuous. Only a few Common Scoter were in evidence for much of the remaining daylight time. The wind had swung more to the West by dawn the following day and dropped steadily over the next few hours. The Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake triumvirate was now joined by trinities of Guillemot and a lone racing pigeon.

Shortly after 8.30am BST I saw my first tell-tale splash on the starboard side of the ship. It was immediately joined by another, and another. The Captain rushed over to make sure I had seen the dolphin, relieved that my persistence had paid off.

Surprised and delighted by the sightings, I concentrated on recording the data rather than watching the locals for the next hour or so. It was then I wished I had a companion to share the experience, and the paperwork.

By the time the sight of Spurn Lighthouse appeared on the horizon, the weather was threatening to turn quite pleasant. I stayed on the bridge until we were back in the Humber, then bid my fond and grateful farewell to Captain Arturas Klimovas, his officers and crew who had made the trip most enjoyable. I am also immensely grateful to DFDS Seaways for making the survey possible.

Cheryl Leaning, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Esbjerg ‘Fionia Seaways’ 11th - 13th May

Posted 25 May 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright and Cheryl Leaning, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound 6-8 WNW overcast, Westbound 5-6 SW sunny

Cetaceans
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2 (possible)
Harbour (Common) Seal Phoca vitulina 1

Seabirds:
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 294
Gannet Morus bassanus 76
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 124
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 19
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 369
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 37
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 4
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 50
Unidentified tern Sp. 3
Puffin Fratercula arctica  2
Guillemot Uria aalge 25
Razorbill Alca torda 10
Auk Sp 2
Duck Sp 2
Mixed gull sp 600

Terrestrial Birds
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 30
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina 154
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 300
Pigeon Sp 2
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 2
Small wader sp 50
Wood pigeon Columba polumbus 1

 

We arrived at the port on a sunny evening and were welcomed on board the Fionia Seaways by the officers and crew. We left harbour with the sun setting behind us as we Left the Humber and went to our cabin to settle in for the evening.

Fulmar 5We awoke before dawn and got ready to start our survey. A deep low had settled above Scotland and a north westerly wind was generating a swell in the North Sea. This was ideal weather for our North Sea specialists, the Fulmars and the Gannets who were evident as soon as we arrived on the bridge. 

Later we saw Sandwich terns still making their northward migration to their breeding grounds.  We had a brief glimpse of a marine mammal prior to reaching the coast, the sea state however made it difficult to make a positive identification. As we neared Denmark we started to see Lesser Black-backed gulls and Common Scoter in reasonable numbers and as we entered the channel between Fano and Esbjerg we witnessed many waders refuelling on the mudflats before continuing with their migration. We arrived at Esbjerg just before 2pm and decided to stay on the vessel and watch the arctic and common terns vying for food in the harbour.
We set sail again just before 7pm BST and soon encountered yet more Scoter moving north before the light failed us. We returned to our cabin for our second night.

Razorbill 1
We awoke before dawn to a cloudless sky and a much calmer sea. For two hours we were watching gannets and fulmars feeding or sitting on the water and were lucky enough to see more Guillemots and Razorbills. The sightings of fulmars started to drop away as they were replaced by kittiwakes. Three birds on the water then revealed a very brief glimpse of a second harbour porpoise.

By now we were starting to see land and were just able to see a brief view of a Common Seal looking at the ship, a lovely way to end the survey. 

We left the bridge as we passed Spurn Head having thanked the Captain, Arturas Klimovas, his officers and crew for making us feel so welcome aboard the Fionia Seaways. We would also like to thank DFDS Seaways for making our survey possible.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Cheryl Leaning, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Fionia Seaways' 14 - 15 April 2012

Posted 16 April 2012

Mike Bamford and Vincent Green Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: SW 3-4; Westbound: N-NW 5-6

Cetaceans
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 6
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Common (Harbour) Seal Phoca vitulina 1

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 104
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 345
Gannet Morus bassanus 40
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 6
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 6
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 7
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 16
Eider Somateria mollissima 5
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 6
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 84+
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 504
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 26
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 21
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 442
Guillimot Uria aalge 66
Razorbill Alca torda 19
Unidentified Auk Sp. 44
Unidentified Tern Sp. 13
Unidentiifed Diver Sp. 3
Unidentified Large Gull Sp. 519+
Unidentified Small Gull Sp.  150+
Unidentified Duck Sp. 43
Grey Goose Sp. 3

Finding the ship was straightforward enough as per instructions, and we escorted aboard and shown upstairs to the small passengers lounge and mess. Apart from the lorry drivers there was one other foot passenger, a very game 79 year old lady, going over to visit her family in Esbjerg.

We introduced ourselves to the bridge, where we met the very welcoming Swedish captain, and his crew. We left the Humber at sunset, therefore too late for any surveying on the way out, though in June and July there should be some daylight available.

Great Northern Diver

The following day we were on the bridge at 06.15 ships time (CET) and around mid N Sea. Observations were slow to come initially, but we did have three sightings of Harbour Porpoise. Nearing the Danish coast there were large numbers of Red Throated Divers, and a few Great Northern Divers flying surprisingly, South East, as well as migrating Arctic and Common terns, Eider Ducks and Common Scoter.

We left the bridge as we entered the Esbjerg Fiord, and went ashore for a walk, heading North through the very quiet town (closed on Saturday afternoon). We found a wooded recreation area near a housing estate. Spring was not as advanced as in the UK, but there were early spring migrants singing and possibilities of further birding in the months to come.

Returning, the ship left early at 7.40pm, allowing 45 minutes observations as we left the harbour. There were impressive numbers of gulls, predominantly Herring Gulls, heading south to roost in the dusk.

Red Throated Diver

On the bridge next morning, the wind had got up to a brisk northerly. We saw a Common Seal, and three more Harbour Porpoise mid Sea, and an Atlantic Grey seal as we neared the coast. There were also large numbers of Kittiwakes, and Fulmars, presumably heading for breeding areas, a couple of Arctic Skua, and Auks, largely in pairs, with a lone Scoter just outside the Humber mouth.

We left the bridge at the Spurn Buoy.

 

With thanks to DFDS and the very helpful crew of the interestingly named Fionia (an Island in the Danish Archipelago)

Mike Bamford and Vincent Green, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Jutlandia Seaways' 9 - 11 March 2012

Posted 13 March 2012

Rob Petley-Jones and Jane Petley-Jones Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: WNW 3-4; Westbound: WNW 2-0

Cetaceans
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 11
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 5
Common (Harbour) Seal Phoca vitulina 1

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 9
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 2
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 63
Gannet Morus bassanus 269
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 14
Eider Somateria mollissima 31
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 12
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 13
Common Gull Larus canus 166
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 36
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 16
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 30
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 385
Guillimot Uria aalge 161
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Unidentified Auk Sp. 3
Unidentiifed Diver Sp. 7
Unidentified Gull Sp. 484+

Terrestrial Birds
Knot Calidris canutus 200+

After a brief unplanned tour around the coal heaps of Immingham Port, we arrived safely at our ship 'Jutlandia Seaways' and were carefully escorted aboard and then up many flights of stairs to the passenger deck. Here we were shown our very comfortable cabin, and joined the drivers in the lounge for a welcome supper.

Jane Petley-JonesThis ferry route surveys the North Sea between Immingham and Esbjerg, Denmark, in two halves. The outward survey begins at daybreak half way across the North Sea, while the return survey begins at dawn from a similar position, ending back at Immingham.

The first morning dawned bright and fair, and as we took our station on the bridge we were greeted by the Captain and his very helpful officers, and given a brief tour of the ship's instruments.

The second morning saw us on the bridge at dawn, with calmer conditions making us optimistic that we might spot some dolphins this time. Bird numbers were much higher on this second day with large numbers of Kittiwakes. There were also some superb close encounters with Gannets, one practically knocking on the windows with its beak!

The wind continued to drop, and finally we were rewarded with two groups of Common Dolphins, and a number of Grey Seals as we approached Spurn Point.

Overall a very satisfactory two days of surveying, and we are very grateful to DFDS and the crew of Jutlandia Seaways for enabling this work to continue.. 

Rob Petley-Jones and Jane Petley-Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Esbjerg 'Jutlandia Seaways' 10 - 12 February 2012

Posted 13 February 2012

Rick Morris and Sharon Morris Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: SW-SSW 2-3; Westbound: NNW 3-5

Cetaceans
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 9
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 1
Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
Gannet Morus bassanus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 40
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 38
Black-Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 178
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 25
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 47
Guillemot Uria aalge 70
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Unidentified Auk Species 16
Unidentified Large Gull Species 16
Unidentified Small Gull Species 100+
Unidentified Diver Species 1 
Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 5

Terrestrial Birds
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 6
Redshank Tringa totanus 2

We arrived at the terminal in Immingham on a very cold Friday evening for the first MARINElife survey to Esbjerg in Denmark and upon introducing ourselves to the very helpful DFDS staff and getting our tickets were escorted to the ship where we were welcomed onboard and shown our cabin. The smell of hot food led us to the dining area where we sat down for a good hot meal and a cup of tea. We then retired to our cabin for an early night after the long drive we had in getting there.

Our first morning at sea saw us up before dawn and after breakfast we made our way up to the bridge to introduce ourselves to the captain, where we presented him with a few MARINElife items as a way of thanks.

Minke 1CD Cork

After familiarising ourselves with the ships instruments and setting up our equipment on the starboard side of the bridge, we were optimistic that we might have some good sightings as the wind and sea state were favourable, we didn't have to wait too long and at just after 08:00 we had a sighting of five Bottlenose Dolphins, an unidentified Dolphin and then five Common Dolphins and a Harbour Porpoise were sighted before a very welcomed sighting of a Minke Whale.

The rest of the eastbound trip was peppered with various seabird sightings but alas, no more cetaceans and upon nearing Esbjerg we had a first for us, a Black Guillemot sighting. Due to the cold and icy conditions in Esbjerg which included some sea ice, we decided to stay onboard and input the data we collected throughout the day.

Frozen Seas 1

The westbound leg saw slightly heavier seas but still produced two separate sightings of Harbour Porpoise and a small group of four Common Dolphins, but we had the periodic company of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Gulls and Gannets to keep us busy.

We arrived back in Immingham and thanked the captain and crew for their co-operation before making our way home. We would like to say a big thank you to DFDS for their support with these surveys. 

Rick Morris and Sharon Morris, Research Surveyors for MARINElife