Angela Needham and Alexandra Deamer-John, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Summary of Sighting
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus 1
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 206
Gannet Morus bassanus 209
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 65
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 96
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 40
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 15
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 664
Guillemot Uria aalge 597
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 7
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 83
Unidentified Gull Sp. 29
Unidentified Tern Sp. 6
Unidentified Shearwater Sp. 4
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Razorbill Alca torda 12
Mute swan Cygnus olor 34
Garganey Anas querquedula 64
Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis 5
Little Stint Calidris minuta 1
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 50
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 6
Unidentified Wader Sp. 30
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 27
We arrived at the docks after the strange roadwork diversions at
Immingham in good time and were taken aboard Freesia Seaways with
DFDS's usual efficiency. The cook greeted us in the common room and
went to great trouble to provide us with special vegan food
throughout the trip. Jonas Tunstad, the captain, and all his crew
welcomed us onto the bridge soon after we sailed they were very
helpful throughout the trip and indeed took a lot of interest in
what we were doing. Several of them took time out to discuss our
work and to tell us about wildlife they had seen during their lives
Our first day, out to Brevik was with a calm sea and good light. We had a steady passage of the usual birds all day, but, in spite of the near perfect conditions only one Harbour Porpoise and one fleeting glimpse of a dolphin were spotted, both exceedingly briefly. We had high hopes of seeing more as we passed the gas fields as members of the crew reported having themselves seen several in that area on a number of recent trips. However it was not to be.
We docked in Brevik at tea time and watched the life in the harbour, seeing good numbers of birds, sadly many of them were too far away to identify precisely without a telescope. I did however manage to confirm a lovely family of Merganser and a delightful family of Velvet Scoter amongst the larger numbers of Common Scoter.
The next morning we were able to observe for a brief time before the ship docked in Gothenburg where we went ashore for the day. We went into the old town and found the lovely little restaurant I had visited previously.
We were back on the Bridge that evening soon after the ship departed. But it soon became too dark to survey. We were back the next morning but by now the predicted weather change had set it. It was a lot windier, it was periodically raining with low cloud. Indeed we closed the survey for a brief time due to almost nil visibility. I really enjoy this kind of sea and the strange light that then prevails, even if it doesn't give much life to observe.
After lunch however the fog lifted and the afternoon was the busiest time of all for sightings. It seems the birds had also needed to lie low during the bad weather and now were into feeding frenzy mode.
At times there were so many Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannet around the ship that it was hard to know where to look and which ones had or had not been counted. There were three young Gannet that flew with us for several miles, appearing and reappearing above and around us.
They were individually recognizable by their particular black in white feather patterns, but the large rafts of Guillemot on the sea were harder to individualise. Although clearly some of them were juveniles most of the time it was impossible to say how many within each raft or in some cases even whether this was the same or a different group. We also saw terns patterning and diving.
Alex had the good fortune and good observation skills to see a White-sided Dolphin as well during this period which is an unusual sighting for the area. I did briefly see it, but not well enough to identify. As we approached Spurn she also saw two Harbour Seal.
Finally it was time to thank the captain and the crew and to depart to our comfortable cabins, which had been such a very pleasant home for the previous 4 days and to prepare to leave the ship. Thank you again to the crew and to DFDS for enabling this survey to take place and for making us so welcome and comfortable throughout our time aboard.
Angela Needham and Alexandra Deamer-John, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Harbour Porpoise: Graham Ekins
3rd Year Gannet Photo: Adrian Shephard
Survey cancelled due to operational reasons.