Sightings Archives: June 2012

MARINElife survey report: Immingham-Brevik: ‘Magnolia Seaways’ 24th-27th June 2012

Posted 02 July 2012

Gareth Bradbury and Jon Butterfield: Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Eastbound SSE-NW 2-6; Westbound WNW-SSE 2-7

Cetaceans and Seals:
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2
White beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus alnirostris 3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 27
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 7
Dolphin Sp. 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 4
Seal species 7

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 152
Gannet Morus bassanus 453
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 25
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 12
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Parasitic (Arctic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 8
Common Gull Larus canus 55
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 34
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 158
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Little Gull Larus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 943
'Commic' tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 672
Eider Somateria mollissima  463
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 1
Large Gull species 28
Small gull Sp. 1
Gull Sp. 316
Black-backed Gull Sp. 4
Auk Sp. 168

Terrestrial birds
Swift Apus apus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 7
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 27
Duck Sp. 8

Minke 4A little after 22:00 on Saturday evening we met the friendly DFDS staff on the freight deck of Magnolia Seaways and were shown to our comfortable cabin, not that we would frequent it much during the long June survey days. We left port on time at 05:00 on Sunday morning and were on the bridge to start our survey by 07:00, by which time we had left the busiest part of the Humber shipping lane. Surveying conditions were challenging with a 5-6 SSE wind bringing with it continuous rain. Despite further rain and mist for the rest of the day, but with the wind easing, we were able to spot three Minke Whales, two Common Dolphins and 11 Harbour Porpoises amidst low densities of seabirds; mainly Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Guillemots.

We went up to the bridge at 05:00 on Monday morning again in rain, heavy at times, but this gradually eased as we neared the Norwegian coast and Brevik was first seen in sunlight surrounded by the clearing clouds. Though no cetaceans were seen in the morning, the avifauna took on a more coastal aspect as we approached with Fulmars being replaced Eider fmby more gulls, including the darker forms of Lesser Black-backed Gull and eventually Terns, Eiders, Velvet Scoters and Cormorants.
After a pleasant walk around Brevik, we set sail towards Gothenburg in light winds at 20:00 and enjoyed a further three hours of surveys before dark counting mainly Eider and Gulls with one Harbour Porpoise spotted.

Conditions the following day were excellent and we managed over two and a half hours of survey before docking at Gothenburg at 07:30 and again between leaving at 20:00 and sunset whereupon we counted good numbers of Gulls, Fulmars and Eiders and a few Common Scoter and Terns as well as a brief view of the fin and back of one 'small Dolphin'.

WBDWhen we arrived on the bridge on our last day, we were disappointed to find rain and stronger winds and immediately thought that our return survey across Dogger Bank and the North Sea would again be hampered by poor conditions. However the DFDS duty officer reassured us that conditions were often like that as we passed the Danish coast and he was proved right as winds eased through the rest of the day, so much so in fact that between 13:30 and 15:30 we had to suspend the survey due to thick fog, a good time to catch up on some sleep! Once the fog had cleared beyond 2km, we enjoyed the productivity of Dogger Bank in good conditions, spotting 15 Harbour Porpoises and counting large numbers of Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Guillemots, often forming frenzied flocks around Minke Whales (four sighted) or White beaked Dolphins (three sighted). It was also great to see that many pairs of male Guillemots with their juveniles had already made it out to feed in these waters.

We are very grateful for the help and support of the captain and crew of DFDS Seaways 'Magnolia Seaways' whose welcome immediately made us feel at home.

Gareth Bradbury and Jon Butterfield: Research Surveyors for MARINElife