Pete Howlett and Robbie Hawkins Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound NE 8-6; Westbound NE 3-5
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Diver sp. Gavia sp. 1
Fulmar Fulmaris glacialis 402
Gannet Morus bassanus 187
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 4
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 32
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 155
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 45~
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 501
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 15
Puffin Fratercula arctica 9
Guillemot Uria aalge 181
Razorbill Alca torda 41
Unidentified large gull sp. 4
Unidentified auk sp. 787
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 1
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 10
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 7
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 2
Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea 1
After arriving at Immingham on Saturday evening we were thankfully escorted onto the 'Tor Freesia' a few hours before departure and managed to get some sleep before heading to the bridge shortly after 07:00. We were greeted by the sight of the North Sea stirred by a north-easterly gale and heavy rain. The ship made light work of the sea conditions but surveying was challenging. A lone Arctic Skua provided some excitement late in the day.
The next morning we awoke to our first sight of Norway. The weather had improved and we were able to admire the distant snowy peaks and wooded shores of the fjord leading to Brevik with many groups of Eider duck floating into view. After docking we had time to explore the surrounding shore and woodlands, enjoying views of Peregrine, Yellowhammer and Hawfinch. After a look around the sleepy town and a tea in a waterside cafe we re-boarded to await departure the following morning.
The ship's schedule had been altered due to the May Day holiday which meant we could survey the Brevik-Gothenburg sector. Conditions were much improved with just a gentle breeze and clear blue skies. We were glad to record our first cetaceans, with several groups of Harbour Porpoise, or 'tumlare' as the Swedish crew called them. The other highlight was seeing some raptor migration, with several Common Buzzard, a Marsh Harrier, two Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk all seen crossing between Denmark and Sweden.
The day in Gothenburg allowed us to input the survey data already gathered, and sample some more Swedish dishes from the chef.
The final day's surveying started under blue skies but with a stiff northerly breeze. A Wheatear and Swallow, making use of the ship as a rest station, had to dodge a Sparrowhawk which circled the ship before continuing its journey to Norway and a lone Pomarine Skua was also a welcome addition to the list. The southern edge of the Dogger Bank provided excitement with a rash of Harbour Porpoise sightings. Further inshore from Dogger Bank we were kept busy when we encountered several large feeding frenzies of mixed auks, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Gannets.
With daylight fading we called time on the survey at the mouth of the Humber.
Our grateful thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Tor Freesia for their hospitality on this extended survey.
Peter Howlett & Robbie Hawkins, Research surveyors for MARINElife