Sightings Archives: March 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham-Brevik 'Freesia Seaways' 25 - 28 March 2012

Posted 02 April 2012

Maggie Gamble and Carol Farmer-Wright Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound; Westbound:

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis  23
White Beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris  1
Unidentified Dolphin species 3+

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 53
Gannet Morus bassanus 328
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 40
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 42
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 56
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1609
Guillemot Uria aalge 833
Razorbill Alca torda 46
Unidentified Auk Species 1673
Unidentified large Gull Species 443
Eider Duck Somateria mollissima 483
Merganser Mergus serrator 2

Terrestrial Birds
Hooded Crow Corvus Corone Cornix 3
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 18
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula 2
Unidentified Duck species 16
Unidentified passerine species 4

Gannet dive

The high pressure system over the North Sea area meant that day one of the survey started in thick fog.  However just as we settled down for an early lunch we emerged into clear skies and a sunny day and from our table we could see feeding Gulls, Gannets and Harbour Porpoise.  We were quickly welcomed back onto the bridge to find that we were over the Dogger Bank and promptly started recording more Harbour Porpoise and associated feeding birds.

Conditions were perfect for porpoise spotting, with calm seas and good light. As we cleared the Dogger Bank activity lessened but for the rest of the day we recorded steady sightings of seabirds. Some large splashes off the port side were probably Minke Whale but remained elusive. Leaving the bridge just after sunset we hoped that the good conditions would persist for the next day.   


At dawn we were back on the bridge to find it was a glorious morning with superb views of the Fjord and many small islands. Soon we were recording the first of many Eider Ducks the males resplendent in breeding plumage and Mergansers were also seen.  After docking we had plenty of time to walk around Brevik and admire the local Hooded Crows, before returning to the ship and data entry. Departure was at sunset which meant we could enjoy the stunning views as it was too dark to survey. 

Day three was another beautiful day and we had time to record Harbour Porpoise, gulls and plenty more Eider as we approached Gothenburg. Here we spent the day moored, bird watching and data entering before tucking into our new favourite meal - Flying Jacob!

Sunset Immingham to Brevik

Day four was bright with a light sea mist and was fairly quiet for most of the day with brief sightings of small groups of Common Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise. Then in the early evening we found ourselves in the centre of feeding activity spread over a wide area.  It was fascinating to watch as tight feeding frenzies of mainly Kittiwakes and Guillemots would form and then disperse to regroup elsewhere. We only managed to see cetaceans under one of these groups but from the bird behaviour we were sure they were there. Suddenly a shout from the bridge crew alerted us to a dolphin repeatedly breaching off the starboard side. Carol grabbed her camera and from the photographs identified it as a White Beaked Dolphin! A perfect end to a great survey.

Many thanks to all the crew of the Tor Freesia for their welcome and help during the survey.

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