Sightings Archives: September 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Power & Panorama' 27-28 September 2012

Posted 30 September 2012

Stephen Dunstan and Rebecca Wilcox, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Winds - Outward NW 4-6, Return W 4-6

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 14
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 13
Gannet Morus bassanus 238
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 254
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Common Scoter Malanitta nigra 17
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 82
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 16
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 668
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 48
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Little Gull Hydrocolocus minutes 6
Common Gull Larus canus 53
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisea 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 72
Razorbill Alca torda 243
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 2
Auk sp 44

Landbirds seen at sea:
Swallow 16
House Martin 1
Goldfinch 1

Red Throated DiverWe arrived at the terminal for the inaugural survey on this route keen to see what we would record.  The Seatruck shore staff were very helpful and we were soon on board the Seatruck Panorama, where the captain and crew soon made us feel at home.

We were on the bridge whilst the navigations to get the vessel out of the dock were undertaken, and we started surveying as the boat left the Mersey mouth soon after.  We soon had a few seabirds, including Kittiwake and Guillemot.  The highlight of the early stage of the recording was several Little Gull, including some zebra-striped first year birds.

Harbour PorpoiseAs we traversed the seas off the North Wales coast we steadily added to the species recorded, though numbers were generally low except for Kittiwake which were seen in some sizeable flocks.  Razorbill also increased in frequency as we headed further east.

Things picked up as we got closer to Dublin.  At least three Harbour Porpoise were picked out in the calm seas, two of which we were able to show to the captain as they surfaced close to the ship.  An adult Mediterranean Gull and a Great Skua were welcome additions to the bird list for the trip.

After a night exploring Dublin we took a taxi back to the Seatruck terminal early on Friday morning, and the captain and crew of the Seatruck Power were again very friendly. 

Grey Seal 1The conditions again looked good for surveying and we were hopeful.  We saw a couple of Black Guillemot as we left the harbour,  A skua seen harrying a Kittiwake proved to be a juvenile Arctic Skua, a rare opportunity to see one so well in Irish Sea waters.  Some passerine visible migration was also observed over the sea including several Swallow, a House Martin and a Goldfinch.

As we approached Liverpool again a Grey Seal surfaced a couple of times in front of the boat.  A small group of Common Scoter circled in the distance and some terns were observed.  Large numbers of gulls and Cormorant lined the beaches but we restricted our counts to the birds on and over the sea and river.

We docked early evening and warmly thanked the captain and crew for their help and friendly welcome on what had been a successful inaugural trip.

Stephen Dunstan and Rebecca Wilcox, Research Surveyors for MARINElife