Sightings Archives: December 2012

MARINElife survey report: Immingham-Brevik, ‘Petunia Seaways’ 16th-19th December 2012

Posted 22 December 2012

Stephen Dunstan and Nick Adams, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Westbound 2-3 SW Eastbound 3-4 SE

Cetaceans and Seals:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11 

Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Gannet Morus bassanus 34
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 54
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 27
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 167
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Unidentified Large Gull Sp. 20
Guillemot Uria aalge 57
Razorbill Alca torda 34
Unidentified Large Auk Sp. 22
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Little Auk Alle alle 135

Passerines seen at sea:
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2
Blackbird Turdus merula 1

Harbour Porp by GEWe arrived in good time, and following a smooth transfer to the 'Petunia Seaways' where we were able to grab some sleep in our well-appointed cabins.

After breakfast, we were soon on the bridge where the crew made us welcome.  We began to pick up a few seabirds, mostly auks and Kittiwake as well as a few Gannet and Fulmar.

In the calm conditions, we hoped for cetaceans and we were not disappointed. The first of three sightings of Harbour Porpoise was followed by good views of at least five Bottlenose Dolphin heading west alongside the boat. The highlight of the day however was more than 50 Little Auk, almost all of which, seen at point blank range as they moved clumsily out of the way of the boat.

After docking in Brevik early Monday morning, we were out at first light until approaching dusk, around six hours in total. We had set ourselves a target of 30 species and just exceeded this. The clear highlight was a couple of Hawfinch; other species seen included Yellowhammer and Northern Bullfinch and five species of duck.

Little AukOn day three, there was again no daylight for surveying before or after we docked at Gothenburg and our activity was restricted to birding from the ship. We were pleasantly surprised to see more than 20 species. The highlight was good views of mixed groups of Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye close to the boat including several dapper males of each species.

Day four: After breakfast, we returned to the bridge for surveying at sea.  A Blackbird and a Starling were seen hitching rides on the boat on migration, following another Starling and a Woodpigeon on the first day. Well out to sea another bird was seen on migration, a Velvet Scoter.  We hoped for a repeat of the good numbers of Little Auk from the first day and were very pleased to record a further 82 of these charming small auks, this time generally flying round the bow rather than floundering away over the sea.  As daylight began to rapidly fade, a Great Skua was the final addition to the trip list and a fitting end to an interesting and rewarding trip. We thanked the crew and on docking, were transferred from the boat to Nick's car with great efficiency.

Stephen Dunstan and Nick Adams, Research Surveyors for MARINElife