Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.
Angela Needham and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for
Outward journey: Breezy (F5-6 ENE) but visibility limited to around 5k. Homeward journey: Calm (F1-3 SE), intermittent fog at first
Summary of Species Recorded
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 16
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 1
Dolphin Sp 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypos 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 54
Gannet Morus bassanus 555
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 43
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 44
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 40
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 248
Guillemot Uria aalge 245
Razorbill Alca torda 10
Common Gull Larus canus 53
Gull Sp 29
We made our way through the maze of industry at Immingham Docks, and didn't have to wait long for a lift from the carpark to the Super-Fast Baleares, a Spanish ship chartered by DFDS Seaways as a short-term supplement to their fleet on this route. On board at around midnight, we were shown to our comfortable cabin and retired, hoping to sleep through the 03:00 departure, to be ready for the start of our survey at 06:45.
We were made welcome on the bridge by the First Officer, and settled down to our survey, though the drizzle and generally murky conditions made for a slow start. The day was dominated by Gannet and Guillemot, with a few Fulmar, Kittiwake and other gulls being seen as time went on.
We had a fleeting view of a Bottlenose Dolphin right in front of the bow, but it hurried away without surfacing again; two Harbour Porpoise slipped down the side of the ship, hardly moving. Sightings of any kind became fewer and further between during the late afternoon, and we closed the survey at 18:45 as the light faded. After dinner, we spent some time entering the day's data into the spreadsheets, and looked forward to exploring Gothenburg the following day.
Off the ship soon after she docked at 08:00, we made our way into Gothenburg (surprisingly easy, given the size of the port - we suspected that it would not be quite so simple for people trying to find their way out of Immingham Docks!). We wandered through the old quarter of Haga, enjoyed a coffee and a cinnamon biscuit, and then back through the parks carpeted with early spring flowers. Having arrived back at the ship rather too early, we then carried on exploring by bus, though we don't advise anyone else to repeat our tour of the enormous Volvo industrial estate at Arendal!
Our second day's survey on the Gothenburg to Immingham leg was quite different to the outward journey: calm conditions, but intermittently very foggy early on. The flat sea proved to make spotting cetaceans easier, and we saw one Harbour Porpoise and 15 Common Dolphin, both individuals and in small groups. We also saw two Grey Seal.
The main seabird species were once again Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot, with just a few gulls sighted. In the late afternoon, we saw several flights of Guillemot, most probably heading in the direction of their nesting sites at Flamborough, approximately 35 miles away.
We brought the survey to a close as we approached the Humber, and left the bridge as the pilot was nearing the ship. We finally disembarked at 22:00 and the DFDS staff were very helpful in getting our exit paperwork processed and taking us back to our car.
This was my first survey, and I particularly enjoyed the new perspective given to bird watching by viewing from the bridge, some 35m above the waterline. Our thanks go to the ship's master Ramon Izquierdo Alvarez, and in particular to the First Officer, the crew and the cheerful stewards who made our days on board so comfortable and productive.
Angela Needham and Jenny Ball, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Gannet Photo: Adrian Shephard
Bottlenose Dolphin Photo: Adrian Shephard
Common Dolphin Photo: Thomas Fisher