Sightings Archives: February 2016

MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Brevik DFDS ‘Petunia Seaways’ 21st - 24th February 2016

Posted 05 March 2016

Janet Shepherd and Charlotte Altass; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Eastbound: SW 3-4, light rain & poor visibility. Westbound: 6-4, showers, with gusts of force 8.

Summary of Sightings:

Marine Mammals
Dolphin sp 3

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 61
Gannet Morus bassanus 67
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 33
Guillemot Uria aalge 78
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Gull sp 2

Booking in early we waited in the DFDS building until boarding. After a short sleep and a good breakfast we faced some early fog which prevented us from starting our survey until 10.30hrs. Visibility was still poor and especially for sightings 'outside the box', which was reflected in the data.

Petunia Seaways Adrian Shephard

However, we soon had sightings of Kittiwake followed by Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot and these species remained steady throughout the day. The seabird highlight was an immature Little Gull, quite distinguishable from the other species we were encountering of Kittiwake and Fulmar.

Little Gull Adrian Shephard 01The weather changed for the worse around lunchtime, providing an opportunity for a long lunch and the survey was called to an end as daylight faded at 17.20hrs.

Due to daylight hours there was no surveying on the middle two days. On Day 2 we woke to a beautiful sunny, cold day and spent it ashore in and around Brevik. Much was closed for the winter but the old town and island were interesting and a walk over the fjord bridge gave us time to sample the pizzas other surveyors have mentioned. They lived up to expectation! We did see Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard and Cormorant on our travels. We then managed to input the data collected.

Again as we arrived in Gothenburg, it was a beautiful cold, sunny morning and we spent time on the ship watching the busy port. From the cabin and lounge we saw Mute Swan, Goldeneye, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Cormorant and various Gull species.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 06The return voyage was undertaken in much better visibility although later on there were blustery, wintery showers. Soon after the survey commenced we got excited seeing several birds feeding on the water and what, at first, looked like it could be a seal. However, as we got closer it was too big and turned out to be some sort of flotsam. Gannet, Fulmar and Kittiwake were the main species encountered although Puffin and Lesser Black-backed Gull were seen in smaller numbers.

During the survey we were pleased with a fleetingly glimpse of 3 dolphins, although too fleeting to be identified. We were interested to see a change of course at the same waypoint on both journeys, as we passed between the Tyra Gas and Skjold Oil fields, and quite a number of helicopters flying in the area. We also saw DFDS sister vessel, Ficaria Seaways, on her outward journey.

An interesting survey in spite of the weather, which did impact the species sighted. Thanks to Charlotte, on her first longer voyage, and to DFDS, the crew and Captain Thomas Nielson for their hospitality.

Janet Shepherd and Charlotte Altass, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Photo Petunia Seaways: Adrian Shephard
Photo Little Gull: Adrian Shephard
Photo Gannets: Adrian Shephard


MARINElife Survey Report: Immingham to Gothenburg DFDS ‘Primula Seaways’ February 2016

Posted 15 February 2016

Vince Green and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Species Recorded

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 129
Gannet Morus bassanus 49
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 87
Guillemot Uria aalge 156
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 1
Red Throated Diver Gavia stellate 1
Unidentified Gull Sp. 2
Unidentified Shearwater Sp. 2

We christened this trip "The Rainbow Run". As Storm Imogen was passing the south coast we boarded the Primula Seaways.  There had been some concern in the previous days about whether the trip would go ahead or not.  But now it was clear and Imogen was not going to be coming towards the North Sea, so all was fine.

Gannet Robin Langdon 01After a good nights' rest and a hearty breakfast we were on the bridge ready for the days surveying at 8am.  The conditions were reasonable with a sea state of 4 but not much swell and no rain.  In the morning we saw quite a few Fulmar and Guillemot and the occasional Gannet.  Much more abundant than the bird seemed to be was rainbows, appearing out of storms in front and to the sides of the ship.

The afternoon continued in a similar vein but with more Kittiwake and Black-backed Gull being spotted.  There was also a Great Skua and a Black Guillemot to add to the variety of birds.  The survey finished around 16:30 after a rain storm that had been chasing us for some time finally caught up with us.  We retired to the canteen for a meal and stories of what we had spotted that day.

Rainbow Robin LangdonDay two found us in port at Gothenburg.  We did have the opportunity to leave the ship but as we had not seen any cetaceans the previous day we decided to hit the books to see if we could improve our chances.  So Robin read a book about Chance in the hope it may give some hints of how we could improve out chance of seeing cetacean.  Vince hit the cetacean books figuring that if he read about them they would be sure to appear the following day.

Day three started with keen anticipation for the return journey to Immingham.  Armed with their new knowledge, Vince and Robin were on the bridge at first light ready to start the days surveying.   The conditions were good with the sea state of 2 and less than a metre swell.  

The survey continued in much the same way it had on the first day with mainly Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet being spotted with the occasional Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  In addition to these a couple of Manx Shearwater flew past and a Red-throated Diver was also spotted.

Rainbows continued to be seen but still no cetacean.  At around 17:00 with the sun setting and the light fading the survey was brought to an end.  Almost 500 birds had been seen.

We stayed on the bridge for a short while to watch a fabulous sunset before thanking Captain Anders and his crew for their excellent hospitality.  We had our last meal on the boat before finally docking back at Immingham at 21:30.

Sunset Robin Langdon

Vince Green and Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Photo Credits:
Gannet: Robin Langdon
Rainbow: Robin Langdon
Sunset: Robin Langdon