Sightings Archives: May 2015

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS 'Fionia Seaways' 26th-28th May 2015

Posted 13 June 2015

Cassie Bye and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 3
Common Bottlenose Dolphin  Tursiops truncates 1
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypos 1

Great Northern Diver  Gavia immer 1
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 102
Gannet Morus bassanus 50
Eider  Somateria mollissima 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 46
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 52
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 82
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 58
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 10
Guillemot  Uria aalge 63
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Gull Sp. 124

On arrival at Immingham Dock we quickly had our passports checked and were driven by the helpful DFDS staff to the Fionia Seaways where we were shown to our cabins. Before retiring for the night we made contact with the bridge who assured us we would be welcome on the Bridge at dawn the next morning.

Fulmar_Graham Ekins 03

Fulmar (Graham Ekins)

After a good night's sleep in our separate cabins, to which we had been happily upgraded, and a welcome cup of coffee we made our way onto the bridge at 4-30 in the morning. The light was good and the sea quite calm so we were soon seeing Gannet and Fulmar, passing by in single numbers.

What was to be our only dolphin appeared, passing off the port side at 6-50. It was a tantalisingly brief glimpse but was identified as probably a Bottlenose Dolphin. Shortly afterwards we saw our first Harbour Porpoise The only one to be seen on our voyage outbound, this time passing to starboard.

The small numbers of Guillemot mainly preferred to travel in threes. Kittiwake and a variety of other gulls also passed in small numbers. At 9-15 we had the pleasure of a single Sooty Shearwater, flying low and quickly with some beautiful gliding typical of this species.

Eider Female_Graham Ekins

Eider Duck (Graham Ekins)

The rest of the day was uneventful with further passage of the above-mentioned species and some quite long periods with empty sea and sky until mid-afternoon when a small flock of ten Sandwich Tern were observed feeding.

The rest of the day was uneventful, with occasional gulls, Fulmar and Gannet. We observed our last bird, a Kittiwake, just before 7pm so at 8-45 although the light was still quite good, we decided to end the watch and get an early night ready to start early in the morning.

We were able to observe for a couple of hours the next morning before the ship entered into the river at Gothenburg but saw little other than Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull and four lovely Eider Duck.

We spent a pleasant and relaxing day in Gothenburg taking in a walk in the botanical gardens alongside the canal, where we observed a number of Fieldfare. I have never before seen them on their breeding territory and so heard them singing. We also enjoyed a trip on the paddan boat along the canal and out into the harbour and some delightful food in the old town.

We were back on board in time for tea, and as soon as we were out of the river we were able to resume our position on the bridge until dusk. The last species to be observed that evening being two Manx Shearwater.

The next morning we had expected to be on the bridge at sunrise, but the weather had changed and we were sailing through a very heavy rain cloud with very poor visibility. We waited therefore until the sky's cleared a little. The morning saw regular single Fulmar passing until a fishing vessel appeared some distance away to port. This and a slightly later one to starboard gave us a feeding frenzy of mainly gulls. Because of the distance away we were unable to definitively identify many of them, nor see whether there were any other animals joining in.

The most exciting bird of the morning was a single Great Northern Diver. The rest of the day past uneventfully with intermittent movement of mainly Fulmar in the late afternoon and mainly Gannet in the evening including one chocolate coloured one year old.

We also observed two more Harbour Porpoise, and shortly before we entered the Humber we saw one Grey Seal. We watched the vessel docking from the drivers lounge window and were then efficiently escorted off the ship and very promptly driven to the car park via the gate house to make our way home.

We wish to thank the captain and all the staff for their helpfulness and friendliness throughout the journey and DFDS Seaways for their generous support and interest taken in this work.

Cassie Bye and Angela Needham, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS 'Begonia Seaways' 17th-21st May 2015

Posted 27 May 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright and Maggie Gamble, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: Good visibility with sea state 3 - 6. Westbound: visibility variable with intermittent heavy showers, sea state 4-2.

Sightings Summary:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 14
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 7
Seal Sp. 1

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 217
Gannet Morus bassanus 161
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 22
Eider Somateria mollissima 64
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Common Gull Larus canus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 62
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 26
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 309
Gull sp.70
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 55
Razorbill Alca torda 19
Little Auk Alle alle 9
Auk sp 76
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Manx Shearwater Manx shearwater 10

Terrestrial Birds
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Whimbel Numenius phaeopus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 3
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus 1
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 5
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis 1
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon 1

Solomon Seal PlantWe were soon booked in and taken on board the 'Begonia Seaways' and shown to our comfortable cabin for the survey. Heading straight to our beds (after a quick snack) ready for the following day's survey, we were on the bridge the following morning to see sunrise over Spurn Head.

Seabird activity was fairly sporadic for much of the survey but in this section there were a few Manx Shearwater to be seen plus a small group of Little Auk. Later in the morning over an area with 20 to 25 meters depth there was some feeding activity and Harbour Porpoise were also found. In the afternoon we saw evidence of the ongoing migration, with Whimbrel, Redstart and Swallow.

At 3pm I had to escort one hitchhiking Swallow from the bridge where it had taken up residence on a microphone. Unfortunately a less welcome sight was the ongoing migration of helium balloons which are an ever present sign of litter pollution in the marine environment.

Day 2 and we were approaching the Norwegian Coast in beautiful sunshine. Surveying starts early in these latitudes at this time of year (04:15am) and on this day at least it seemed too early for many seabirds although a few Common Gull were seen and a couple of Divers. We had leisure to spend the day in sunny Brevick and combined birding (nesting Redstart) with botanizing (Solomon 's seal, Lily of the Valley) and sampling the local coffee plus cake. We had a late evening departure from Brevick in calm seas but not enough light to survey.

Unfortunately day 3 and the early morning brought intermittent heavy rain with poor visibility and sea state 5. Approaching Gothenburg we sighted a single seal plus a number of Common Tern. We spent the day in the harbour catching up on sleep and data entering with another late evening departure.

Begonia Seaways

Fulmar Rob-Petley-Jones 01

Day 4. With conditions improved we were well off the coast of Norway where Carol picked up the blue ribbon bird of the survey, a beautiful elegant light phase Long-tailed Skua in breeding plumage! Definitely worth getting out of our bunks for!! The bridge crew had some photographs of a breaching Humpback Whale seen in the area last September and chatting to one of the passengers he reported seeing Orca there at around the same time. After this sightings reverted to the occasional Gannet, Kittiwake and Fulmar. We had more sightings of Harbour Porpoise in the area we had logged them on the first day and another couple as we approached the Humber Estuary along with some Grey Seal.

As shipping density increased we thanked the captain and bridge crew for their hospitality during the survey and left the bridge

At 10pm we disembarked where we were very soon met by the welcome sighting of a DFDS transport to give us a lift back to our cars. We would like to thank the DFDS port staff and The Captain and crew of the DFDS Begonia Seaways for their help in continuing this survey route.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Maggie Gamble, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Photo Credits:
Solomon Seal: Maggie Gamble
Begonia Seaways: Maggie Gamble
Fulmar: Rob Petley-Jones