Graham Ekins and Sean Graham; Research Surveyors for
Weather: Day 1: N 0-1 Day 2: NW 1-2 Day 3: WNW force 5-6 backing S 7-8
Summary of Sightings
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 26
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 10
Red-throated Diver (Loon) Gavia stellata 5
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Cormorant Phalcrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator 3
Puffin Fratercula arctica 52
Guillemot Uria algae 349
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 2
Razorbill Alca torda 35
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 14
Eider Somateria mollissima 23
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 518
Gannet Morus bassanus 291
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 78
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 16
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 197
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 30
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 309
Other bird species landing on or passing the survey ship
Blackbird Turdus merula 2
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 1
Oystercatcher Haemotopus ostralegus 2
We arrived at Immingham Dock and within minutes our passports were checked and we were driven by the very friendly and helpful DFDS staff to the Fionia Seaways where we were shown to our comfortable cabins.
Calm Seas (Graham Ekins)
After an excellent night's sleep we were up on the bridge by 06.15 where we were made welcome by the ships officers. The conditions were ideal for finding cetaceans with the sea almost calm and the skies lightly overcast. Within minutes we saw our first Harbour Porpoise off the bows. We then had several more sightings over the next couple of hours.
As we travelled east we encountered increasing numbers of Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Puffin and the occasional Razorbill, the majority of the auks and gulls in summer plumage. Then at 07.50 a pod of 4 White-beaked Dolphin approached the starboard side of the ship. This was close to the Gan Gas Fields where there had been sightings on previous surveys.
A little later and close to a large group of feeding seabirds we came across another pod of six White-beaked Dolphin, they showed for a short while before diving out of sight. We were delighted to have seen 2 pods of this scarce species. For the rest of the day we had several more sightings of Harbour Porpoise and by the end of the day had logged 35 individuals.
Seabird numbers were impressive and included several groups of Fulmar sitting on the sea with one group numbering 100. We also had a steady passage north of this species including a superbly plumaged Blue Fulmar. After an excellent evening meal we managed to enter all the data for the first survey day.
Kittiwakes (Graham Ekins)
The following morning we surveyed for two hours as we approached Gothenburg Dock. We did not see any cetaceans but did encounter a trawler with a large number of gulls in attendance, they included an impressive first winter Glaucous Gull.
In the approaches to the harbour we saw many Eider and a superb pair of summer plumaged Black Guillemot. After docking Captain Arturas Klimovas kindly arranged transport to dock gate 6. Here I took a taxi west along the coast exploring the southern coastline of the Göta River. I then explored the woodland around the old Naval Station at Nya Varvet. Here were very tame and photogenic Green Woodpecker, Hooded Crow and Fieldfare as well as Northern Treecreeper and Willow Tit.
Eider (Graham Ekins)
I finished the tour with a visit to the little harbour and reed beds at Saltholmen. Here I encountered superbly plumaged Eider, Northern Herring Gull and a small flock of very tame Jackdaw of the Scandinavian race monedula, they are very handsome with a grey nape and glossy blue plumage reminiscent of a Rook.
The following morning we started the survey at 06.00. The weather conditions had deteriorated overnight with overcast skies and the wind WNW steadily increasing and by early afternoon backing southerly to a force 8 with intermittent rain squalls. This did not appear to deter the seabirds with a steady stream of Fulmar, Gannet, Kittiwake, Puffin and Guillemot logged flying north. As the wind started to decrease and the skies brightened late afternoon a single Harbour Porpoise was seen off to starboard, the only cetacean seen that day. At dusk we packed away our equipment and thanked Captain Arturas Klimovas and his officers for making us so welcome on this memorable and very enjoyable survey.
We would like to thank DFDS for their support on this new survey route.
Graham Ekins and Sean Graham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife