Immingham-Gothenburg/Brevik

Recent Sightings

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik August 2016

Posted 26 August 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS ‘Freesia Seaways’ 4th - 6th August 2016

Posted 12 August 2016

Janet Shepherd and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: 4th August. SW 5 increasing W 6. Sea state 4-6. Good visibility, dry with variable cloud cover. Eastbound: 5th August. SSW 7 decreasing 5. Sea State 3-2. Good visibility with increasing cloud cover Westbound: 6th August. WNW 7-8 decreasing S3 increasing 5. Good visibility with decreasing cloud cover.

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Unidentified Seal sp. 7

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 328
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 25
Gannet Morus bassanus 230
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 16
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 38
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 536
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 12
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 11
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 42
Puffin Fratercula arctica 9
Guillemot Uria aalge 996
Razorbill Alca torda 22
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini 1
Gull sp. 10 Tern sp. 18
Auk sp. 5 Larus sp. 7

Terrestrial birds
Passerine sp. 1
Swift Apus apus 5
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 1
Eider Somateria mollissima 241

Guillemot Adrian Shephard 01We arrived at the Mayflower Car Park and were greeted by helpful staff who ensured we were fairly swiftly through customs and ticket checks and then driven to our vessel, the Freesia Seaways. Once aboard we were given keys to our cabins and took advantage of getting some sleep before an early start next morning. Daylight hours meant we would be in for a long day. Thank you to Captain Hall for allowing us on board so early.

The survey started at 5.40am and we soon had sightings of Kittiwake, Fulmar, Gannet and Little Gull, joined, after an hour, by small groups of Guillemot, Puffin and a large flock of Manx Shearwater. The variety of species continued during the morning with sightings of terns, Common Gull, Sabine's Gull, Razorbill and Lesser Black-backed Gull. We also had two Swift appearing flying around the ship on several occasions.

After an excellent lunch, sightings continued including one of a Wood Pigeon and large rafts of Guillemot appearing with this year's young offspring. Passing through the Gas Fields we heard, over the radio, notification of a vessel ahead that was undertaking a seismic survey and our ship altered course to give it the wide berth it requested. The sunshine played its part in giving us a glorious summer's day although there was some glare to contend with, especially on the Starboard side. With a lovely sunset we continued the survey until 20.33 after which two weary surveyors finally made it to their beds.

Eider Adrian Shephard 02Up bright and early next morning for a 04.50 start, we had a couple of hours surveying into Gothenburg Docks. We had sightings of several gull species, Cormorant and large numbers of female Eider Duck and their offspring around the many islands on the way in. Also hauled out on one of these small islands were 7 seals but a bit too distant to make a clear identification.

In port for 18 hours we decided to go into Gothenburg via bus and tram and spent a few interesting hours walking around the city. We found an excellent restaurant with a typically Swedish buffet lunch, then walked around the Tradgardsforeningen and, finally, back to the ship to start writing up and inputting the data collected so far. Departure next morning was at 02.00 so after another good night's sleep we started surveying at 5.03am.

Stronger winds were experienced than either the surveyors or the ship's crew had expected and cetacean sightings were going to be difficult in the choppy seas. However bird sightings continued although with a far less variety of species. Most sightings were of Fulmar, Gannet and Guillemot. At 01:45 next morning an alarm call by the crew awoke us from our slumbers and we had a snack before we disembarked at 3.30 am.


Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 10
Thanks to the Captain and crew for their support, helpfulness and friendship (my special thanks to the Chef - the meals were excellent especially Saturday evening's dinner- which just happened to be my birthday - the ice cream cake was delicious!).

Thanks too to the other passengers, including the canoeists and musicians for their interest and good company. And finally a big thank you DFDS and their port staff for their help in making this a very rewarding survey.

Janet Shepherd and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Guillemots Photo: Adrian Shephard
Eider and Chick Photo: Adrian Shephard
Gannets Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright

 

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS ‘Freesia Seaways’ 24th – 27th July 2016

Posted 10 August 2016

Angela Needham and Alexandra Deamer-John, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Sighting

Marine Mammals
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus 1
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 3

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 206
Gannet Morus bassanus 209
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 65
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 96
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 40
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 15
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 664
Guillemot Uria aalge 597
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 7
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 83
Unidentified Gull Sp. 29
Unidentified Tern Sp. 6
Unidentified Shearwater Sp. 4
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Razorbill Alca torda 12

Harbour Birds
Mute swan Cygnus olor 34
Garganey Anas querquedula 64
Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis 5
Little Stint Calidris minuta 1
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 50
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 6
Unidentified Wader Sp. 30
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 27

We arrived at the docks after the strange roadwork diversions at Immingham in good time and were taken aboard Freesia Seaways with DFDS's usual efficiency. The cook greeted us in the common room and went to great trouble to provide us with special vegan food throughout the trip. Jonas Tunstad, the captain, and all his crew welcomed us onto the bridge soon after we sailed they were very helpful throughout the trip and indeed took a lot of interest in what we were doing. Several of them took time out to discuss our work and to tell us about wildlife they had seen during their lives at sea.

Harbour Porpoise Graham Ekins 03Our first day, out to Brevik was with a calm sea and good light. We had a steady passage of the usual birds all day, but, in spite of the near perfect conditions only one Harbour Porpoise and one fleeting glimpse of a dolphin were spotted, both exceedingly briefly. We had high hopes of seeing more as we passed the gas fields as members of the crew reported having themselves seen several in that area on a number of recent trips. However it was not to be.

We docked in Brevik at tea time and watched the life in the harbour, seeing good numbers of birds, sadly many of them were too far away to identify precisely without a telescope. I did however manage to confirm a lovely family of Merganser and a delightful family of Velvet Scoter amongst the larger numbers of Common Scoter.

The next morning we were able to observe for a brief time before the ship docked in Gothenburg where we went ashore for the day. We went into the old town and found the lovely little restaurant I had visited previously.

We were back on the Bridge that evening soon after the ship departed. But it soon became too dark to survey. We were back the next morning but by now the predicted weather change had set it. It was a lot windier, it was periodically raining with low cloud. Indeed we closed the survey for a brief time due to almost nil visibility. I really enjoy this kind of sea and the strange light that then prevails, even if it doesn't give much life to observe.

After lunch however the fog lifted and the afternoon was the busiest time of all for sightings. It seems the birds had also needed to lie low during the bad weather and now were into feeding frenzy mode.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 14At times there were so many Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannet around the ship that it was hard to know where to look and which ones had or had not been counted. There were three young Gannet that flew with us for several miles, appearing and reappearing above and around us.

They were individually recognizable by their particular black in white feather patterns, but the large rafts of Guillemot on the sea were harder to individualise. Although clearly some of them were juveniles most of the time it was impossible to say how many within each raft or in some cases even whether this was the same or a different group. We also saw terns patterning and diving.

Alex had the good fortune and good observation skills to see a White-sided Dolphin as well during this period which is an unusual sighting for the area. I did briefly see it, but not well enough to identify. As we approached Spurn she also saw two Harbour Seal.

Finally it was time to thank the captain and the crew and to depart to our comfortable cabins, which had been such a very pleasant home for the previous 4 days and to prepare to leave the ship. Thank you again to the crew and to DFDS for enabling this survey to take place and for making us so welcome and comfortable throughout our time aboard.

Angela Needham and Alexandra Deamer-John, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Harbour Porpoise: Graham Ekins
3rd Year Gannet Photo: Adrian Shephard

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg July 2016

Posted 07 July 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik June 2016

Posted 23 June 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg June 2016

Posted 07 June 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik May 2016

Posted 22 May 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS ‘Super-Fast Baleares’ 10th - 12th May 2016

Posted 14 May 2016

Philip Dutt, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: E - NE 5-6; Westbound: E-NE 4-5

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 3
Harbour Seal Halichoerus grypos 3

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 159
Gannet Morus bassanus 34
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 32
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 76
Guillemot Uria aalge 47
Razorbill Alca torda 5
Gull Sp. 95


I arrived at the Immingham DFDS office at about 11 p.m. and after being driven on board the Superfast Balearus. I settled down in my cabin hopeful of getting some sleep before the engines started up early in the morning.

Although the weather was gloriously sunny for most of the trip the winds were fairly strong and there were whitecaps for much of the time.  There was no access to the bridge for the first part of the outward leg so I surveyed from the starboard side of the accommodation deck using my own GPS.

Fulmar Adrian Shephard 06There were a few Guillemot visible on the surface but the total number was much lower than it would have been from the bridge as many of them would have dived before they came into view.  The main seabird species were Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar.

On arrival at Gothenburg there were Hooded Crow, Oystercatcher, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Goosander, Eider, Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull on the small island opposite the mooring.

It was a glorious day so I headed north-west for the nearest beach.  There is a dedicated bird protection area managed by the port authority between part of the Volvo site and an oil terminal along Hjärtholmsvägen.  Lagoons edged with extensive reedbeds backing onto woodland looked quite promising and there were plenty of birds singing, including Blackcap, Willow and Cetti's Warbler. Passing a small farm at Bulyckegård holding out against urban sprawl I made for the other side of Torslanda and the small islands. The dedicated cyclepaths were well signposted and Swedish drivers are very bike-friendly.

Common Seal Adrian Shephard 03I looked for any name with a 'vik' in it in the hope of lunch by the shore.  In a small woodland reserve at Hästevik maintained by the Hjuvik Wildlife Association I had the spot of the day which was a Lesser Grey Shrike perched amongst an explosion of blackthorn blossom.  A Sparrowhawk flew low along the woodland ride which was still lined with Wood Anemone. I spent a pleasant afternoon by the shore watching Common Tern, Eider, Oystercatcher, Common Gull and the small car ferries plying between the small islands.

We left just before 8 p.m. and as we swung round the Nya Älvsborgs Fästning Island three Common Seal played just off the port beam.  The following morning I had hoped to see some Harbour Porpoise in the calmer waters off Denmark but as It was quite choppy so I was not optimistic.  Bird-wise it was fairly quiet apart from some birds drawn toward fishing vessels.  A Dunlin which may have been on board overnight, flew down from above the bridge and headed west.

BND Adrian Shephard 07After we passed the northernmost shallow water 'fingers' of the 'Dogger Tail End'  (due east of Alnmouth)  a splash on the starboard side revealed a Bottlenose Dolphin speeding away from the hull.  A few minutes later there were two more bow-riding.  They never fully emerged, their dorsal fins just scoring the water.

As we approached the wind farm off Spurn Head the bridge crew were making ready to take on the pilot so I stopped surveying.

My thanks go to ship's master Ramon Alvarez Izquierdo and the crew for all their help and the stewards for their hospitality throughout the voyage.

Philip Dutt, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Fulmar Photo: Adrian Shephard
Common Seal Photo: Adrian Shephard
Bottlenose Dolphin Photo: Adrian Shephard

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik April 2016

Posted 21 April 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS ‘Super-Fast Baleares’ 12th - 14th April 2016

Posted 18 April 2016

Angela Needham and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward journey: Breezy (F5-6 ENE) but visibility limited to around 5k. Homeward journey: Calm (F1-3 SE), intermittent fog at first

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 16
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 1
Dolphin Sp 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypos 2

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 54
Gannet Morus bassanus 555
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 43
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 44
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 40
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 248
Guillemot Uria aalge 245
Razorbill Alca torda 10
Common Gull Larus canus 53
Gull Sp 29


Gannet Adrian Shephard 12We made our way through the maze of industry at Immingham Docks, and didn't have to wait long for a lift from the carpark to the Super-Fast Baleares, a Spanish ship chartered by DFDS Seaways as a short-term supplement to their fleet on this route.  On board at around midnight, we were shown to our comfortable cabin and retired, hoping to sleep through the 03:00 departure, to be ready for the start of our survey at 06:45.

We were made welcome on the bridge by the First Officer, and settled down to our survey, though the drizzle and generally murky conditions made for a slow start.  The day was dominated by Gannet and Guillemot, with a few Fulmar, Kittiwake and other gulls being seen as time went on.  

BND Adrian Shephard 06We had a fleeting view of a Bottlenose Dolphin right in front of the bow, but it hurried away without surfacing again; two Harbour Porpoise slipped down the side of the ship, hardly moving.  Sightings of any kind became fewer and further between during the late afternoon, and we closed the survey at 18:45 as the light faded.  After dinner, we spent some time entering the day's data into the spreadsheets, and looked forward to exploring Gothenburg the following day.

Off the ship soon after she docked at 08:00, we made our way into Gothenburg (surprisingly easy, given the size of the port - we suspected that it would not be quite so simple for people trying to find their way out of Immingham Docks!).  We wandered through the old quarter of Haga, enjoyed a coffee and a cinnamon biscuit, and then back through the parks carpeted with early spring flowers.  Having arrived back at the ship rather too early, we then carried on exploring by bus, though we don't advise anyone else to repeat our tour of the enormous Volvo industrial estate at Arendal!

Common Dolphin Thomas Fisher 03Our second day's survey on the Gothenburg to Immingham leg was quite different to the outward journey: calm conditions, but intermittently very foggy early on.  The flat sea proved to make spotting cetaceans easier, and we saw one Harbour Porpoise and 15 Common Dolphin, both individuals and in small groups.  We also saw two Grey Seal.

The main seabird species were once again Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot, with just a few gulls sighted.  In the late afternoon, we saw several flights of Guillemot, most probably heading in the direction of their nesting sites at Flamborough, approximately 35 miles away.

We brought the survey to a close as we approached the Humber, and left the bridge as the pilot was nearing the ship.  We finally disembarked at 22:00 and the DFDS staff were very helpful in getting our exit paperwork processed and taking us back to our car.

This was my first survey, and I particularly enjoyed the new perspective given to bird watching by viewing from the bridge, some 35m above the waterline.  Our thanks go to the ship's master Ramon Izquierdo Alvarez, and in particular to the First Officer, the crew and the cheerful stewards who made our days on board so comfortable and productive.

Angela Needham and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Gannet Photo: Adrian Shephard
Bottlenose Dolphin Photo: Adrian Shephard
Common Dolphin Photo: Thomas Fisher

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik March 2016

Posted 14 March 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS ‘Petunia Seaways’ 21st - 24th February 2016

Posted 05 March 2016

Janet Shepherd and Charlotte Altass; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: SW 3-4, light rain & poor visibility. Westbound: 6-4, showers, with gusts of force 8.

Summary of Sightings:

Marine Mammals
Dolphin sp 3

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 61
Gannet Morus bassanus 67
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 33
Guillemot Uria aalge 78
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Gull sp 2

Booking in early we waited in the DFDS building until boarding. After a short sleep and a good breakfast we faced some early fog which prevented us from starting our survey until 10.30hrs. Visibility was still poor and especially for sightings 'outside the box', which was reflected in the data.

Petunia Seaways Adrian Shephard

However, we soon had sightings of Kittiwake followed by Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot and these species remained steady throughout the day. The seabird highlight was an immature Little Gull, quite distinguishable from the other species we were encountering of Kittiwake and Fulmar.

Little Gull Adrian Shephard 01The weather changed for the worse around lunchtime, providing an opportunity for a long lunch and the survey was called to an end as daylight faded at 17.20hrs.

Due to daylight hours there was no surveying on the middle two days. On Day 2 we woke to a beautiful sunny, cold day and spent it ashore in and around Brevik. Much was closed for the winter but the old town and island were interesting and a walk over the fjord bridge gave us time to sample the pizzas other surveyors have mentioned. They lived up to expectation! We did see Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard and Cormorant on our travels. We then managed to input the data collected.

Again as we arrived in Gothenburg, it was a beautiful cold, sunny morning and we spent time on the ship watching the busy port. From the cabin and lounge we saw Mute Swan, Goldeneye, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Cormorant and various Gull species.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 06The return voyage was undertaken in much better visibility although later on there were blustery, wintery showers. Soon after the survey commenced we got excited seeing several birds feeding on the water and what, at first, looked like it could be a seal. However, as we got closer it was too big and turned out to be some sort of flotsam. Gannet, Fulmar and Kittiwake were the main species encountered although Puffin and Lesser Black-backed Gull were seen in smaller numbers.

During the survey we were pleased with a fleetingly glimpse of 3 dolphins, although too fleeting to be identified. We were interested to see a change of course at the same waypoint on both journeys, as we passed between the Tyra Gas and Skjold Oil fields, and quite a number of helicopters flying in the area. We also saw DFDS sister vessel, Ficaria Seaways, on her outward journey.

An interesting survey in spite of the weather, which did impact the species sighted. Thanks to Charlotte, on her first longer voyage, and to DFDS, the crew and Captain Thomas Nielson for their hospitality.

Janet Shepherd and Charlotte Altass, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Photo Petunia Seaways: Adrian Shephard
Photo Little Gull: Adrian Shephard
Photo Gannets: Adrian Shephard

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg March 2016

Posted 01 March 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS ‘Primula Seaways’ February 2016

Posted 15 February 2016

Vince Green and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Species Recorded

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 129
Gannet Morus bassanus 49
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 87
Guillemot Uria aalge 156
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 1
Red Throated Diver Gavia stellate 1
Unidentified Gull Sp. 2
Unidentified Shearwater Sp. 2

We christened this trip "The Rainbow Run". As Storm Imogen was passing the south coast we boarded the Primula Seaways.  There had been some concern in the previous days about whether the trip would go ahead or not.  But now it was clear and Imogen was not going to be coming towards the North Sea, so all was fine.

Gannet Robin Langdon 01After a good nights' rest and a hearty breakfast we were on the bridge ready for the days surveying at 8am.  The conditions were reasonable with a sea state of 4 but not much swell and no rain.  In the morning we saw quite a few Fulmar and Guillemot and the occasional Gannet.  Much more abundant than the bird seemed to be was rainbows, appearing out of storms in front and to the sides of the ship.

The afternoon continued in a similar vein but with more Kittiwake and Black-backed Gull being spotted.  There was also a Great Skua and a Black Guillemot to add to the variety of birds.  The survey finished around 16:30 after a rain storm that had been chasing us for some time finally caught up with us.  We retired to the canteen for a meal and stories of what we had spotted that day.

Rainbow Robin LangdonDay two found us in port at Gothenburg.  We did have the opportunity to leave the ship but as we had not seen any cetaceans the previous day we decided to hit the books to see if we could improve our chances.  So Robin read a book about Chance in the hope it may give some hints of how we could improve out chance of seeing cetacean.  Vince hit the cetacean books figuring that if he read about them they would be sure to appear the following day.

Day three started with keen anticipation for the return journey to Immingham.  Armed with their new knowledge, Vince and Robin were on the bridge at first light ready to start the days surveying.   The conditions were good with the sea state of 2 and less than a metre swell.  

The survey continued in much the same way it had on the first day with mainly Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet being spotted with the occasional Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  In addition to these a couple of Manx Shearwater flew past and a Red-throated Diver was also spotted.

Rainbows continued to be seen but still no cetacean.  At around 17:00 with the sun setting and the light fading the survey was brought to an end.  Almost 500 birds had been seen.

We stayed on the bridge for a short while to watch a fabulous sunset before thanking Captain Anders and his crew for their excellent hospitality.  We had our last meal on the boat before finally docking back at Immingham at 21:30.

Sunset Robin Langdon

Vince Green and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

 

Photo Credits:
Gannet: Robin Langdon
Rainbow: Robin Langdon
Sunset: Robin Langdon

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik January 2016

Posted 20 January 2016

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS ‘MV Antares’ 13th-16th December 2015

Posted 25 December 2015

John Little and Mike Mackay; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Sightings:

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet  Morus bassanus 12
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 17
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 11
Guillemot  Uria aalge 3
Razorbill  Alca torda 4
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Unidentified Auk sp. 3

Kittiwake John Little 01We left Immingham Docks at 0600 on a flooding tide prior to dawn. Conditions were overcast and misty which kept visibility to no more than 4-6 km. We were set up and ready to observe at first light as we entered open water.

Out of the morning gloom we were soon encountering a couple of the few seabirds seen including Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Gannet and the occasional species of Auk as well as a curious Fulmar. This constituted the species we were to see during the day. A combination of low cloud and light rain kept observation conditions to moderate at best.

However, as light fell we retired to the confines of the ship anticipating that the morning would find us in the Skagerrak, ultimately close inshore, surrounded by land and in a relatively confined waterway. All increasing our chances of seeing marine mammals and birds in abundance.

A reluctant dawn eventually broke over the Skagerrak and our approach to Brevik. This saw us complete a happy couple of hours sighting birds as we headed up the Fjord. Primarily Herring and Black-backed Gull with Guillemot heading our way for a festive squawk.

Guillemot John Little 01

As dawn broke we were just approaching the open North Sea and were ready for a full day of survey effort. Throughout the day we faced challenging conditions with mist in the morning and rough seas in the afternoon.

Razorbill John Little 01

However, we were able to get our eye in on the birds seen on the way out with the addition of Razorbill to the species list. Also, we were able to spread the MARINElife word to fellow passengers who had joined us in Brevik. The sight of two guys in the bracingly cold Nordic wind, staggering about the upper deck and discussing the intricacies between a Fulmar and a Kittiwake, was too much for them not to come and join us.

A huge thank you to the Captain, Crew and Shore Staff of the DFDS Charter, MV Antares for their unfaltering support and hospitality throughout.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. John Little and Mike Mackay; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

Photo Credits:
Kittiwake: John Little
Razorbill: John Little
Guilimots: John Little

 

 

 

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS December 2015

Posted 01 December 2015

Survey cancelled due to operational reasons

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS November 2015

Posted 17 November 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik November 2015

Posted 17 November 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS ‘Freesia Seaways’ 18th-21st October 2015

Posted 25 October 2015

Vincent Green and Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: Cloudy with occasional rain. Wind speed NE 4-6. Westbound: Visibility cloudy in morning improving as day went on Wind speed SW7 occasionally 8 dropping to WSW5.

Summary of Sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 89
Gannet Morus bassanus 448
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 983
Guillemot Uria aalge 344
Razorbill Alca torda 15
Auk sp. 20
Skua sp. 1
Larus sp. 13

Terrestrial birds
Robin Erithacus rubecula 1
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus 3

Harbour Porpoise Adrian Shephard 05I arrived at Immingham in plenty of time to have dinner in the Ulceby truck stop, where I watched a bit of World Cup rugby to pass an hour or so while waiting for the Freesia Seaways to return from Scandinavia. On arrival at the dock I was very kindly escorted to the DFDS office, to check in and get prepared for departure on the Freesia Seaways. I met with my colleague Carol, and we both went on board, were greeted by the staff, and shown to our cabins. We both had some light refreshments, and enjoyed conversations about MARINElife and got an early night as we had an early morning start.

At 0630 am the next morning, we met in the canteen, had a lovely breakfast, and headed up to the bridge not long after and set up for the day of surveying. On the first leg of the survey we managed to see over 900 birds and late in the day recorded a lovely sighting of a Harbour Porpoise leisurely swimming by on the starboard side of the ship. With some brilliant sightings of Guillemot, Gannet, Fulmar and many of Kittiwake and also various gulls, we also witnessed a Robin that had tried to cross the North Sea, unfortunately, unsuccessful, as it didn't survive the journey. Our Captain, Jan Adriansonn offered us drinks and even told us of some past sightings.

Kestrel Adrian Shephard 01The Second Officer, Emma was also really hospitable, and she managed to even spot a Short-eared Owl for us. Roughly half way across the North Sea, the darkness set in and we packed up for the night, had some really nice dinner and relaxed for the evening.

We arrived in Norway before sunrise and later Carol showed me the sights of the lovely Norwegian town of Brevik, and we had the most amazing pizza in the port town, which was a quaint, quiet, beautiful place to visit.

The staff at the port in Brevik were really good, even making us a lovely cup of coffee, as we had a short wait to be allowed back onto the ship.

The second day of the journey was pleasant as we had some time off and relaxed on board the ship in Gothenburg. In the afternoon we had a wander outside on the deck and viewed lots of Hooded Crow and Mute Swan, and various ducks and a Kestrel also appeared. In the evening we settled in early for the night as the next morning was an early start.

After breakfast we went up to the bridge around 0730 in the return leg of the journey and were greeted by Captain Lars Gade Olesen.

Fulmar Adrian Shephard 04On the journey back to Immingham we were pleased to spot over 500 Kittiwake, just after seeing lots of Gannet that were diving into the sea, which was an amazing site. Fulmar, Great Black-back Gull, Guillemot and the odd Razorbill were also recorded.

We arrived back in Immingham around 10 pm having had a brilliant journey viewing lots of birds and a Harbour Porpoise, having been fed really well and looked after by all the staff on board and in the ports, we enjoyed our stay in cabins on an amazing ship with really lovely people.

Our thanks go to DFDS Seaways for enabling us to survey the Norwegian and Swedish waters and the Captains, Officers and crew of the Freesia Seaways for making this a rewarding and delightful experience.

 

 

Vincent Green and Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

Photo Credits:
Harbour Porpoise: Adrian Shephard
Kestrel: Adrian Shephard
Fulmar: Adrian Shephard

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS October 2015

Posted 13 October 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS September 2015

Posted 20 September 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS September 2015

Posted 09 September 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS August 2015

Posted 24 August 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS August 2015

Posted 15 August 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS July 2015

Posted 18 July 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS July 2015

Posted 12 July 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS June 2015

Posted 23 June 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 26th-28th May 2015

Posted 13 June 2015

Cassie Bye and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 3
Common Bottlenose Dolphin  Tursiops truncates 1
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypos 1

Seabirds
Great Northern Diver  Gavia immer 1
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 102
Gannet Morus bassanus 50
Eider  Somateria mollissima 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 46
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 52
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 82
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 58
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 10
Guillemot  Uria aalge 63
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Gull Sp. 124

On arrival at Immingham Dock we quickly had our passports checked and were driven by the helpful DFDS staff to the Fionia Seaways where we were shown to our cabins. Before retiring for the night we made contact with the bridge who assured us we would be welcome on the Bridge at dawn the next morning.

Fulmar_Graham Ekins 03

Fulmar (Graham Ekins)

After a good night's sleep in our separate cabins, to which we had been happily upgraded, and a welcome cup of coffee we made our way onto the bridge at 4-30 in the morning. The light was good and the sea quite calm so we were soon seeing Gannet and Fulmar, passing by in single numbers.

What was to be our only dolphin appeared, passing off the port side at 6-50. It was a tantalisingly brief glimpse but was identified as probably a Bottlenose Dolphin. Shortly afterwards we saw our first Harbour Porpoise The only one to be seen on our voyage outbound, this time passing to starboard.

The small numbers of Guillemot mainly preferred to travel in threes. Kittiwake and a variety of other gulls also passed in small numbers. At 9-15 we had the pleasure of a single Sooty Shearwater, flying low and quickly with some beautiful gliding typical of this species.

Eider Female_Graham Ekins

Eider Duck (Graham Ekins)

The rest of the day was uneventful with further passage of the above-mentioned species and some quite long periods with empty sea and sky until mid-afternoon when a small flock of ten Sandwich Tern were observed feeding.

The rest of the day was uneventful, with occasional gulls, Fulmar and Gannet. We observed our last bird, a Kittiwake, just before 7pm so at 8-45 although the light was still quite good, we decided to end the watch and get an early night ready to start early in the morning.

We were able to observe for a couple of hours the next morning before the ship entered into the river at Gothenburg but saw little other than Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull and four lovely Eider Duck.

We spent a pleasant and relaxing day in Gothenburg taking in a walk in the botanical gardens alongside the canal, where we observed a number of Fieldfare. I have never before seen them on their breeding territory and so heard them singing. We also enjoyed a trip on the paddan boat along the canal and out into the harbour and some delightful food in the old town.

We were back on board in time for tea, and as soon as we were out of the river we were able to resume our position on the bridge until dusk. The last species to be observed that evening being two Manx Shearwater.

The next morning we had expected to be on the bridge at sunrise, but the weather had changed and we were sailing through a very heavy rain cloud with very poor visibility. We waited therefore until the sky's cleared a little. The morning saw regular single Fulmar passing until a fishing vessel appeared some distance away to port. This and a slightly later one to starboard gave us a feeding frenzy of mainly gulls. Because of the distance away we were unable to definitively identify many of them, nor see whether there were any other animals joining in.

The most exciting bird of the morning was a single Great Northern Diver. The rest of the day past uneventfully with intermittent movement of mainly Fulmar in the late afternoon and mainly Gannet in the evening including one chocolate coloured one year old.

We also observed two more Harbour Porpoise, and shortly before we entered the Humber we saw one Grey Seal. We watched the vessel docking from the drivers lounge window and were then efficiently escorted off the ship and very promptly driven to the car park via the gate house to make our way home.

We wish to thank the captain and all the staff for their helpfulness and friendliness throughout the journey and DFDS Seaways for their generous support and interest taken in this work.

Cassie Bye and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS June 2015

Posted 13 June 2015

Survey cancelled this month due to operational issues.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS 'Begonia Seaways' 17th-21st May 2015

Posted 27 May 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright and Maggie Gamble, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: Good visibility with sea state 3 - 6. Westbound: visibility variable with intermittent heavy showers, sea state 4-2.

Sightings Summary:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 14
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 7
Seal Sp. 1

Seabirds
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 217
Gannet Morus bassanus 161
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 22
Eider Somateria mollissima 64
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Common Gull Larus canus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 62
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 26
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 309
Gull sp.70
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 55
Razorbill Alca torda 19
Little Auk Alle alle 9
Auk sp 76
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Manx Shearwater Manx shearwater 10

Terrestrial Birds
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Whimbel Numenius phaeopus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 3
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus 1
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 5
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis 1
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon 1

Solomon Seal PlantWe were soon booked in and taken on board the 'Begonia Seaways' and shown to our comfortable cabin for the survey. Heading straight to our beds (after a quick snack) ready for the following day's survey, we were on the bridge the following morning to see sunrise over Spurn Head.

Seabird activity was fairly sporadic for much of the survey but in this section there were a few Manx Shearwater to be seen plus a small group of Little Auk. Later in the morning over an area with 20 to 25 meters depth there was some feeding activity and Harbour Porpoise were also found. In the afternoon we saw evidence of the ongoing migration, with Whimbrel, Redstart and Swallow.

At 3pm I had to escort one hitchhiking Swallow from the bridge where it had taken up residence on a microphone. Unfortunately a less welcome sight was the ongoing migration of helium balloons which are an ever present sign of litter pollution in the marine environment.

Day 2 and we were approaching the Norwegian Coast in beautiful sunshine. Surveying starts early in these latitudes at this time of year (04:15am) and on this day at least it seemed too early for many seabirds although a few Common Gull were seen and a couple of Divers. We had leisure to spend the day in sunny Brevick and combined birding (nesting Redstart) with botanizing (Solomon 's seal, Lily of the Valley) and sampling the local coffee plus cake. We had a late evening departure from Brevick in calm seas but not enough light to survey.

Unfortunately day 3 and the early morning brought intermittent heavy rain with poor visibility and sea state 5. Approaching Gothenburg we sighted a single seal plus a number of Common Tern. We spent the day in the harbour catching up on sleep and data entering with another late evening departure.

Begonia Seaways

Fulmar Rob-Petley-Jones 01

Day 4. With conditions improved we were well off the coast of Norway where Carol picked up the blue ribbon bird of the survey, a beautiful elegant light phase Long-tailed Skua in breeding plumage! Definitely worth getting out of our bunks for!! The bridge crew had some photographs of a breaching Humpback Whale seen in the area last September and chatting to one of the passengers he reported seeing Orca there at around the same time. After this sightings reverted to the occasional Gannet, Kittiwake and Fulmar. We had more sightings of Harbour Porpoise in the area we had logged them on the first day and another couple as we approached the Humber Estuary along with some Grey Seal.

As shipping density increased we thanked the captain and bridge crew for their hospitality during the survey and left the bridge

At 10pm we disembarked where we were very soon met by the welcome sighting of a DFDS transport to give us a lift back to our cars. We would like to thank the DFDS port staff and The Captain and crew of the DFDS Begonia Seaways for their help in continuing this survey route.


Carol Farmer-Wright and Maggie Gamble, Research Surveyors for MARINElife


Photo Credits:
Solomon Seal: Maggie Gamble
Begonia Seaways: Maggie Gamble
Fulmar: Rob Petley-Jones

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS 26th -29th April 2015

Posted 29 April 2015

Trip cancelled due to operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 21st -24th April 2015

Posted 28 April 2015

John Perry and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 2
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 5
Dolphin sp 2

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellate 3
Diver sp 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 78
Gannet Morus bassanus 39
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Eider Somateria mollissima 10
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 4
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 5
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 45
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 136
Tern sp. 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 8

Land birds
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus 1
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 3
Greylag Goose Anser anser 2

Fionia SeawaysOn arrival at Immingham Dock we quickly had our passports checked and were driven by the helpful DFDS staff to the Fionia Seaways where we were shown to our cabins.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we were escorted to the bridge by 07:00 where we were made welcome by the ships officers. The conditions were good for observation with the sea fairly calm and the skies clear.

As we travelled east we encountered a number of Gannet, Fulmar, and Kittiwake. At 09:15 two dolphins briefly broke the water at just under a kilometre from the ship, but dived before full identification was possible.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 04

With most seabirds at their breeding sites, numbers were relatively low but we did have a hitch-hiking female Reed Bunting keeping us company for some time on the Bridge deck before it left to continue its migration. After a pleasant evening meal we retired to our cabins and prepared for an early start the next morning. We gained access to the Bridge at 05:00 the next day and enjoyed looking at the unfolding archipelago leading into Gothenburg port.

We decided to spend the day on board and after a morning of data entry, spent a very pleasant and warm afternoon on the Bridge deck. Here we were able to practice our ID skills on the various races and ages of gulls, which were around the port as well as watching the land birds on the adjacent island. We also found the superb driving skills of the Port's drivers fascinating as they loaded trailer after trailer with impressive speed and accuracy. It was better than watching Top Gear!

The next morning started with thick fog and so we did not begin watching until it had cleared sufficiently, which meant we were not on the bridge until 06:50. As we travelled westwards the weather improved and most of the day was clear sky and calm seas. Just after midday we had good, if fleeting, views of two Harbour Porpoise, which we suspect had been sleeping on the sea before being wakened by the ship's approach.

BND Adrian Shephard 05A couple of hours later we had the best cetacean sighting of the trip when we watched 5 Bottlenose Dolphin feeding at about 200 metres from the ship. Luckily for us they were swimming in parallel to the ship's course and we were able to watch them and their accompanying seabirds for about 20 minutes.

We closed the survey at 19:45 when the light made it impossible to identify anything accurately. We thanked Captain Valter Fransson and his officers and left the Bridge to prepare for our arrival and disembarkation back at Immingham.

 

John Perry and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

 

Fionia Seaways Photo: Adrian Shephard
Great Skua Photo: Adrian Shephard
Bottlenose Dolphin Photo: Adrian Shephard

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 24th -28th March 2015

Posted 30 March 2015

Graham Ekins and Sean Graham;  Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Day 1: N 0-1 Day 2: NW 1-2 Day 3: WNW force 5-6 backing S 7-8

Summary of Sightings
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise   Phocoena phocoena 26
White-beaked Dolphin   Lagenorhynchus albirostris 10

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver (Loon)   Gavia stellata 5
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Cormorant  Phalcrocorax carbo 8
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator 3
Puffin   Fratercula arctica 52
Guillemot   Uria algae 349
Black Guillemot  Cepphus grille 2
Razorbill   Alca torda 35
Auk:sp 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 14
Eider  Somateria mollissima 23
Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos 1
Fulmar    Fulmarus glacialis 518
Gannet    Morus bassanus 291
Herring Gull    Larus argentatus 78
Lesser Black-backed Gull   Larus fuscus 16
Great Black-backed Gull   Larus marinus 197
Glaucous Gull  Larus hyperboreus 1
Common Gull   Larus canus 30
Black-headed Gull   Larus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla 309
Gull:sp  1

Other bird species landing on or passing the survey ship
Blackbird Turdus merula 2
Starling  Sturnus vulgaris 1
Oystercatcher Haemotopus ostralegus 2

We arrived at Immingham Dock and within minutes our passports were checked and we were driven by the very friendly and helpful DFDS staff to the Fionia Seaways where we were shown to our comfortable cabins.

Calm Seas_Graham Ekins

Calm Seas (Graham Ekins)

After an excellent night's sleep we were up on the bridge by 06.15 where we were made welcome by the ships officers.  The conditions were ideal for finding cetaceans with the sea almost calm and the skies lightly overcast. Within minutes we saw our first Harbour Porpoise off the bows. We then had several more sightings over the next couple of hours.

As we travelled east we encountered increasing numbers of Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Puffin and the occasional Razorbill, the majority of the auks and gulls in summer plumage.  Then at 07.50 a pod of 4 White-beaked Dolphin approached the starboard side of the ship.  This was close to the Gan Gas Fields where there had been sightings on previous surveys.

A little later and close to a large group of feeding seabirds we came across another pod of six White-beaked Dolphin, they showed for a short while before diving out of sight. We were delighted to have seen 2 pods of this scarce species. For the rest of the day we had several more sightings of Harbour Porpoise and by the end of the day had logged 35 individuals.

Seabird numbers were impressive and included several groups of Fulmar sitting on the sea with one group numbering 100.  We also had a steady passage north of this species including a superbly plumaged Blue Fulmar.  After an excellent evening meal we managed to enter all the data for the first survey day.

Kittiwake Group_Graham Ekins 04

Kittiwakes (Graham Ekins)

The following morning we surveyed for two hours as we approached Gothenburg Dock.   We did not see any cetaceans but did encounter a trawler with a large number of gulls in attendance, they included an impressive first winter Glaucous Gull.

In the approaches to the harbour we saw many Eider and a superb pair of summer plumaged Black Guillemot.  After docking Captain Arturas Klimovas kindly arranged transport to dock gate 6.  Here I took a taxi west along the coast exploring the southern coastline of the Göta River.  I then explored the woodland around the old Naval Station at Nya Varvet.  Here were very tame and photogenic Green Woodpecker, Hooded Crow and Fieldfare as well as Northern Treecreeper and Willow Tit.

Male Eider 1_Graham Ekins

Eider (Graham Ekins)

I finished the tour with a visit to the little harbour and reed beds at Saltholmen.  Here I encountered superbly plumaged Eider, Northern Herring Gull and a small flock of very tame Jackdaw of the Scandinavian race monedula, they are very handsome with a grey nape and glossy blue plumage reminiscent of a Rook.

The following morning we started the survey at 06.00.  The weather conditions had deteriorated overnight with overcast skies and the wind WNW steadily increasing and by early afternoon backing southerly to a force 8 with intermittent rain squalls.  This did not appear to deter the seabirds with a steady stream of Fulmar, Gannet, Kittiwake, Puffin and Guillemot logged flying north.  As the wind started to decrease and the skies brightened late afternoon a single Harbour Porpoise was seen off to starboard, the only cetacean seen that day.  At dusk we packed away our equipment and thanked Captain Arturas Klimovas and his officers for making us so welcome on this memorable and very enjoyable survey.

We would like to thank DFDS for their support on this new survey route.

Graham Ekins and Sean Graham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Petunia Seaways' 17th -19th February 2015

Posted 06 March 2015

Cassie Bye and Hannah Finch-Saunders, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Outward: West 3-5 Return: South West 6-7

Summary of Species Recorded
Seabirds
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 115
Gannet Morus bassanus 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 8
Little Gull  Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Puffin Fratercula arctica 7
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 3
Unidentified Gull Sp. 185
Unidentified Auk Sp. 2
'Commic' Tern  Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 2

After arriving at Immingham docks we were efficiently booked in and immediately taken to board our vessel 'Petunia Seaways' for the trip. We were met by a member of crew who checked our documents and showed us to our comfortable cabin quarters. We settled into our cabins ready for the following day's survey. This was only the second survey on this survey route and Hannah's first survey with MARINElife.

We were on the bridge the following morning by 08:30 am about sun rise. As the ship departed around 2:30 am we were well on our way to Gothenburg as we commenced surveying. We were hopeful for cetacean sightings as the visibility was good and the sea was relatively calm.

Our first sighting was a bird, an unidentified gull species about 1km off the starboard side of the ship, around 20 minutes into surveying. This was shortly followed by a number of further sightings of unidentified gull species and Gannet.

Common Gull Adrian Shephard 01The most common birds recorded were Kittiwake and a number of gull species including Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Gull. Other birds included Guillemot, Gannet, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Razorbill and unidentified Tern species.

We were hopeful of seeing cetaceans as we approached the Dan gas fields as we knew White-beaked Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise had been recorded here in previous surveys. Unfortunately this was not the case, no cetacean species were recorded on the outward leg of the journey.

Common Gull (Adrian Shephard)

As we approached the mid afternoon around 15:00 the weather changed, the wind picked up and visibility decreased. Sightings were much fewer and further apart. Surveying was finished as the sun set approximately 17:30. We were made very welcome on the bridge by the Captain and all his crew, who were extremely interested in what we were doing.

We arrived in Gothenburg the following day around 08:00 in the morning. We decided to make the most of the time we had and arranged to visit Gothenburg whilst the ship was docked in the port. We were escorted off the ship and taken to the entrance of the port.  From here we made our way to the city on board a bus where we enjoyed the opportunity to explore the city and try the local food. We boarded the ship around 16:00 after an enjoyable but cold and wet day in Gothenburg.

LBB Gull Graham Ekins 01We were back on the bridge at 08:15 on our final day of surveying as we headed back towards Immingham. The visibility was poor due to a mist over the sea and the sea state made surveying conditions increasingly challenging. Sightings of birds were fewer and less frequent today, Kittiwake were again the most common species recorded. Persistent fog, strong winds and sea state 6-7 made viewing difficult but we did manage to record the odd seabird as the afternoon approached.

Bird species recorded included Kittiwake, Gannet, Guillemot, Lesser Black-backed Gull and to our delight Puffin were also seen rapidly flapping their short wings flying low over the surface of the sea. Surveying was finished at 16:20 due to decreasing visibility.

After our last meal on board the ship, we packed up our belongings and enjoyed our last few hours discussing what had been a very pleasurable survey and lovely visit to the centre of Gothenburg. We arrived in Immingham at 22:00, where we escorted off the ship and driven to the car park.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Graham Ekins)

We would like to thank the DFDS port staff, the Captain and all his crew for their help in making this a very delightful and useful survey.

Cassie Bye and Hannah Finch-Saunders, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS 'Begonia Seaways' 25th -28th January 2015

Posted 29 January 2015

Stuart Murray and Phil Dutt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward: SW5.  Return: SW-W8-9

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 39
Gannet Morus bassanus 23
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 63
Guillemot Uria aalge 46
Unidentified Auk Sp. 116

Our first bird of the survey was a Barn Owl that flew through our headlight beams as we approached the entrance to Immingham terminal. As a record it was perhaps not strictly within the survey parameters but they are unknown where I come from (Highland Perthshire) so they are a notable personal record. If it had been alongside the dock then it would have been a first for this route I'm sure.

Our vessel for the trip was the 'Begonia Seaways' one of a half-dozen sister ships named after flowers; sharing the route was the 'Petunia Seaways' and we met her in the mid-North Sea both coming and going. These are immaculately kept, recently built vessels and they always impress, particularly at night when you are driven aboard into a brilliantly lit, white cavern. As soon as we were aboard we lost an hour, the ship keeping Central European Time. Thus, it instantly became 3am and we felt consequently more tired than we had been a minute before at 2am! Sleep was welcome and instant, until my alarm sounding at 7.15 woke me to a pitch-black morning.


Guillemot Graham Ekins 01We were off to a promising start with the first day's weather, low swell heights, little wind to speak of and occasional breaks in the overcast letting the sun through. The area of most interest for us was the Dogger Bank and sure enough, activity was greatest here and most of the auks, pretty much all Guillemot in winter plumage, were found here.

Otherwise, there were only low numbers of Gannet and Kittiwake, not unexpected at this time of year as they have the sense to move well south for the winter. The day ended early, 16.00 GMT (survey time) but 17.00 CET (ship's time), the sun being indifferent, set on both at the same time!

Guillemot (Graham Ekins)


Approaching the coast in the dark we saw nothing of Norway until next morning in the dock at Brevik. Heavy rain didn't lighten the prevailing overcast and it seemed to have affected local sea-fowl, because nothing was apparent in the harbour all day. Overnight we sailed south to Sweden, docking in Gothenburg in fine, dry weather at breakfast time. The sun shone all day and it was positively warm in the lee of the funnel, watching the channels and skerries for signs of life. We didn't mention them but I think we were each half hoping the Killer Whale would suddenly pop up. They caused quite a sensation the previous week, a pod having come up the fjord as far as the outer harbour. Apart from no Killer Whale we didn't quite have no birds to show for our efforts, mixed flocks of large gulls and Hooded Crow went to roost on the skerries edging the deep water channel, the gulls to bare rock, the crows to a birch covered islet overlooked by 18th century cannons on the walls of the restored fort.

Once again we sailed in the dark, and by the time it was light enough to work, the land, Denmark this time, was well astern. Unfortunately conditions were too severe to conduct a meaningful survey but nonetheless we stayed on the bridge all day, logging the weather and still hoping for a winter rarity blown south with the gale. No luck there either, but we did see our hardy locals, a few Kittiwake, auks, Gannet (always adults) and as ever the Fulmar, a bird you have to admire for its effortless handling of even the wildest weather.

We would like to thank our captain Jonas Tunstad and his bridge officers, Josephine Ytterberg, Stefan Dahlberg, Henrik Holtebo, Robin Glomsten and Ole Brun for the very friendly welcome they gave us to their ship. We were treated not as passengers but as crew and invited into to their mess to eat and socialize with them, which was much appreciated.

Stuart Murray and Phil Dutt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Petunia Seaways' 20th -22th January 2015

Posted 26 January 2015

Janet Shepherd and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward: Variable 1: Return: SE 1-3

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 16
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 13
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 21
Gannet Morus bassanus 54
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 168
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 34
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 436
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 604
Razorbill Alca torda 5
Unidentified Auk Sp 1
Unidentified Gull Sp. 54

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit 2
Starling 1
Brambling 2

On arrival at Immingham docks we were met in the car park by one of the staff cars and were immediately offered a lift straight to the ship, Petunia Seaways, where a member of the crew checked our confirmation letter and passport and welcomed us aboard.  We were then taken up to our very comfortable quarters, and settled into our cabins. This was to be the first survey on this voyage and we were looking forward to the experience and to looking into the possibilities for the day in Gothenburg.

Breakfast the next morning was at 7:30 and as dawn was not until about 8:30, we were able to have breakfast before starting the survey.

WB Dolphin Graham Ekins 02The ship departed at 4am so we were already well on our way as we took our place on the bridge. The sea was very calm, the visibility very good and we were hopeful for cetacean sightings. As we approached the Dan gas fields this proved to be justified. One pair of White-beaked Dolphin was immediately followed by a second pair. This was Angela's first sighting of this species, so this was a great beginning to the trip.

We also saw a number of Harbour Porpoise shortly afterwards.

 

 

 

White-beaked Dolphin (Graham Ekins)

The most common birds were Kittiwake and Guillemot, over 300 of the latter, in small numbers throughout most of the day. We were interested to be able to observe a variety of plumages of several species in relation to their age and to seasonal changes.

Other birds included Little Gull, Gannet, Puffin and Fulmar.  Except for a brief sleet/snow shower around the middle of the day the weather remained very calm and quite clear and the sightings were much fewer as dusk approached. On the bridge we were made exceedingly welcome by the Captain, Lars Gade Olesen, and all his crew, who were very interested in what we were doing. When we explained about going into Gothenburg they went out of their way to help us find out how to do this, one crew member actually printing out bus and tram numbers and times.

The Captain kindly allowed us onto the bridge early the next morning to watch the ship docking. Soon after 7:00 we were able to observe the brilliant manoeuvring of this huge ship, reversing in between the Nya Alvsborgs Fastning, with its floodlit Elfsborgs Fortress, and the dock.

The Captain then escorted us back down to join the drivers to be escorted off the ship. Gothenburg was covered in a fine layer of snow and it was quite cold but we enjoyed the opportunity to look around.

After an excellent day in Gothenburg we were back on board for about 18:00 where we were enthusiastically greeted by the cook who informed us dinner would be in half an hour. The Captain came down at about 7:30 to make sure we were back on board and we really appreciated his support throughout the survey.

Next morning we were on the bridge soon after 8:30am as it began to get light. We again had very calm seas although there was more cloud cover than there had been on the first day. It was very cold with some ice on deck. The first few hours were fairly quiet, although as we approached the gas fields' area, White-beaked Dolphin put in an appearance. This time we saw a total of nine animals, accompanied by an assortment of birds. Clearly they were feeding in the area.

A number of Harbour Porpoise were again seen, in ones and twos during the rest of the day.

Kittiwake Helen Turnock 01By mid-afternoon, after a fairly quiet period, suddenly a huge number of birds rose from the water in front of the ship and flew off to port. We observed a Grey Seal in the water, and overhead 200+ Kittiwake, less Herring Gull, and some Great Black-Backed Gull and Gannet. We were not able to ascertain what they had been feeding on and suspect that there was more activity under the water, including maybe cetaceans, but we were unable to see them.

Kittwake (Helen Turnock)


We also had a number of birds taking a lift on the ship. We observed a Starling, two Meadow Pipit and both a male and a female Brambling at various times.

We suspected they had overnighted on the ship, finding a warm air outlet near their roost and then found themselves, on waking, out to sea!

As dusk fell we were presented with an amazing dark storm light and cloud pattern, however we had no precipitation throughout the voyage. This was quite an amazing voyage in terms of weather and sea conditions, which at times were quite mirror-like. The crew were pleased to have a respite from gales, but the gales were due to return for them the following day!

We watched the ship dock at Immingham from the passenger mess window. At 10pm we were collected along with the drivers and escorted off the ship. A car arrived within minutes to take us to the gate.

We were very impressed by the attention and support we were given by all the crew and ground staff throughout the trip and the ease with which everything was enabled.

Our very heartfelt appreciation is extended to the captain and everyone else we met.

Janet Shepherd and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS 'Petunia Seaways' 14th -17th December 2014

Posted 15 December 2014

Survey cancelled due to adverse weather conditions

MARINElife Survey Reports: DFDS Immingham-Brevik

Posted 08 June 2014

Surveys on this route have been suspended until further notice for operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham–Brevik DFDS ‘Begonia Seaways’ 26th-28th June 2013

Posted 03 July 2013

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound: NW 1-3increasing 5 Westbound: variable 3-4 Rain on last day

Cetaceans and Seals:
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 1 probable
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 15
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 4

SeaBirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 64
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 656
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 134
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 112
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 33
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 69
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 311
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 60
Razorbill Alca torda 9
Goosander Mergus merganser 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2
Crossbill Loxia curvirostra 2
Dunlin Calidris alpine 1
Curlew Numenius arquata 1

We were efficiently booked in and taken on board the 'Begonia Seaways' and shown to our comfortable cabin for the survey. Taking straight to our beds ready for the following day's survey, we were on the bridge the following morning by 05:30.

We were just outside the Humber mouth and we had steady records of Kittiwake, Gannet and Guillemot, with a pair of Sandwich Terns noted just within sight of land plus 6 Common Scoter. We noted our first Harbour Porpoise at 06:30 and then singles totalling 8 over the next couple of hours and frustratingly always briefly. A very fleeting glimpse was had of a probable White-beaked Dolphin. Just after lunch on the Easter most Shoal of the Dogger Bank a group of 12 Kittiwake were circling

Minke 4the sea and we were rewarded with 3 Minke Whale that were then joined by a pod of 6 Harbour Porpoise obviously feeding and accompanied by another 6 Kittiwake. Other highlights were 3 Arctic Skua, a Puffin and a surprising juvenile Starling joined the ship mid North Sea with Fulmar more in evidence towards the eastern North Sea. With increasing challenging weather, we curtailed the survey at 18:30. Winds had abated the next morning and we managed just over two hours surveying before the ship docked at Gothenburg at 06:30 and we recorded good numbers of Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull.

Whilst offloading in Gothenburg we managed to catch up with data inputting and enjoyed a good list of birds seen from the deck. Most notable were a fine pair of Red-breasted Merganser and a female Goldeneye at the side of the ship. We left for Brevik at 15:00. Again, we recorded good numbers of Black-backed Gull species plus a few Fulmar and a Fulmar 20090621Great Skua and just a single Harbour Porpoise. Most notable were the huge numbers of yellow jellyfish seen all the way to Brevik where we arrived at 20:00.

We were back on the bridge at 04:30 for our final day as we ran along the Norwegian coast, with a few jellyfish still to be seen. Singles of Great Skua and a female Goosander we recorded as we headed into the North Sea. Good numbers of Fulmar were seen, with 327 counted sitting on the water behind a trawler, but surprisingly no gulls, with Fulmar and Gannet being the most frequently noted birds. Persistent rain in the late afternoon and early evening made viewing difficult but we did manage to see a pair of Manx Shearwater just before we finished at 20:00

A 03:30 alarm call by the crew awoke us from our slumbers and we disembarked half and hour later. We would like to thank the DFDS port staff and Captain Nielsen and his crew for their help in making this a very useful survey. 

Dick Lorand and Cliff Morrison, Research Surveyors for MARINElife