John Perry and Graham Ekins: Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound 2-5 NE variable cloud Westbound 1-3 NW variable cloud with a few scattered fog patches
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 27
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 22
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus alnirostris 7
Dolphin Sp. 8
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 28
Common (Harbour) Seal Phoca vitulina 1
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 2
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 4
Eider Somateria mollissima 343
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 815
Gannet Morus bassanus 63
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 7
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 6
Common Gull Larus canus 41
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 295
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 289
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 102
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 734
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 52
Guillemot Uria aalge 393
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Puffin Fratercula arctica 9
Auk Sp. 6
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis 81
Canada Goose Branta canadensis 2
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 18
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula 2
Sanderling Calidris alba 65
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula 12
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 3
Swift Apus apus 8
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1
Migrant Birds (on ship)
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus 1
Crossbill Loxia recurvirostra 1
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata 1
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 2
After the great hospitality shown by the DFDS check in staff we
were welcomed on board the very modern 'Tor Begonia' by Captain
Joakin Dahlberg. We were shown to our well appointed cabin and
decided to get some sleep before an early start on the bridge on
Sunday morning. Conditions the following morning were ideal for
Cetacean watching with light winds and the sun to our stern and it
wasn't long before we were seeing Cetaceans. By the end of the day
we had logged an impressive 42 animals which included 11 Harbour
Porpoises, 10 Bottlenose Dolphins and 16 Short-beaked Common
Dolphins as well as a few distant animals that could not be
identified to species including half way between the UK and Norway
we were surprised to see a Common Seal swimming east.
The seabirds were equally interesting with many Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Guillemots as well as a few Razorbills, a single Puffin and Manx Shearwater. Terrestrial birds included a flock of 5 Swifts seen mid-afternoon over 200 miles east of Immingham that rapidly overtook the ship heading NE towards Norway and a little later a Willow Warbler that landed on the ship as we passed through a short-lived fog bank.
The following morning we were on the bridge from 04:00, the winds were light with scattered cloud and excellent visibility. We were surprised to see yet more Swifts and later a Swallow all heading NE. Offshore from Brevik the commonest Gulls were adult Greater Black-backs, they nest along the coastline of SW Norway. The scenery as we entered the fjord leading to Brevik harbour was breath taking with many small bays and inlets, some with picturesque summer houses and small jetties. The birds were interesting and included Velvet Scoters, Eiders, Shags and a Red-breasted Merganser.
On arrival in Brevik we decided to explore the wooded area in the vicinity of the port, we soon had singing Icterine Warbler, Pied Flycatcher in a nearby Nature Reserve as well as nesting Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes. We then walked into Brevik for refreshments and watched a Wheatear collecting nesting material by the quay. The weather was very warm and so we were able to view Mazarine Blue Butterflies and an as yet unidentified Damselfly as well as several plants including Bloody Cranesbill and Columbine. Under the trees by the paths were swathes of Lily of the Valley that filled the air with their scent.
That evening as we left Brevik we saw many more Eiders, a pair of Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers as well as many summer plumaged Common Gulls that nest on many of the buildings and small islands around Brevik.
By 04:00 the following morning the last of the clouds were clearing and we could see the coastline of Gothenburg in the distance. As we entered the harbour we passed many small islands that had nesting Barnacle Geese and Eiders and one held a colony of beautiful Arctic Terns. We used the rest of the day to start data entry and write the summary report. We also found time to view the islands in the harbour and see Wheatears, Hooded Crows, Scandinavian Rock Pipits, Goosanders and Red-breasted Mergansers. That evening as we left Gothenburg we enjoyed further views of a colony of Arctic Terns.
The following morning we were again on the bridge at 04:00 and approximately half-way back west across the North Sea a flock of 65 summer plumaged Sanderling flew past the ship heading NW. On entering an area with lower visibility we had Spotted Flycatcher, Crossbill and a Kestrel land on the ship as well as a Cormorant and an Oystercatcher that stayed with us briefly before heading off in an easterly direction. From circa 120nm east of Spurn Point we started to see ever increasing numbers of seabirds. These were predominantly Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Fulmars, presumably breeding birds from colonies on the NE coast of the UK and the Farne Islands. Scattered amongst the flocks of Auks were several Puffins, the majority of these were grey-cheeked immature birds.
The conditions were ideal for cetacean watching with overcast skies and very light winds. As a result we started to see increasing numbers of Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise. However, the surprise was 22nm off Spurn Point when we noticed many seabirds behind a working trawler and a number of cetaceans feeding in its wake. As we approached the boat we were delighted to see 7 White-beaked and 7 Bottlenose Dolphins. The former species is usually found further north and so this record was unexpected. By the end of the survey we had logged 93 cetaceans of 4 species and 3,000 seabirds.
As we left the bridge we thanked Captain Dahlberg and his officers for their hospitality and friendliness during the survey. We also thanked the chef and his staff for the superb cuisine.
Special thanks go to DFDS for their continued support in our research.
John Perry and Graham Ekins: Research Surveyors for MARINElife