Sightings Archives: June 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Progress & Seatruck Power' 27th-28th June 2013

Posted 12 July 2013

Stephen Dunstan and Carol Greig - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions: Eastbound NW2-3, Westbound SW3-4


Cetaceans and mammals:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 11
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Unidentified whale species 1
Unidentified dolphin species 1

Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 23
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 10
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 658
Gannet Morus bassanus 56
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 45
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Common Gull Larus Canus    3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 130
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Sandwich TernSterna sandvicensis 4
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 10
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 16
Tern sp    2        
Puffin 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 252
Razorbill Alca torda 36
Auk sp. 24

Terrestrial Birds during survey effort:
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 12
Feral / Racing Pigeon Columba livia 2
Swift Apus apus    1

We arrived at Seatruck Liverpool in good tine and were escorted on foot to the Seatruck Progress.   Following tea and coffee we were welcomed to the bridge before the vessel carefully navigated the lock at the dock mouth and entered the Mersey.  Carol had never seen the 'Another Place' statues on Crosby Beach and we had good views of these as we passed.

Manx ShearwaterMuch of the outbound crossing was challenging due to persistent rain into the face of the boat.  Nevertheless through the Plan B of looking through the windows on the side of the bridge we did begin to get most of the expected seabirds.  Highlight in bird terms was a Puffin that lifted off the sea and kept pace with the boat for some time affording good close range views.  A lot of Manx Shearwater were seen despite the less than ideal conditions, so not seeing a single Fulmar was surprising.

Harbour Porpoise were seen twice during the crossing, while a dolphin breached once but unfortunately did not give views allowing identification.   After survey effort ceased we saw several Mediterranean Gull in the harbour, with around a dozen recorded on Friday morning.  Black Guillemot were, as ever, easy to spot in the harbour itself.

Bottlenose dolphinFollowing an enjoyable evening in central Dublin we set off on the return journey in better viewing conditions and were hopeful of additional cetacean and bird species.  Unfortunately the early action included one that got away, a whale species seen briefly once by Carol that could not be identified.  Fulmar were recorded in very small numbers but were very welcome.
We had a bit of a lull early afternoon, as can often be the case, but this spectacularly came to an end in the Burbo Bank area as half a dozen Bottlenose Dolphin hurtled towards the ship, several leaping clear of the water.  We were still enjoying the moment when another five or so did exactly the same thing.  A fantastic encounter that made the whole trip.

Bird of the trip was still to come as we approached the Mersey Bar, and a skua lifted off the water in front of us.  As it moved in front of the boat it proved to be a pale phase Arctic Skua.
Thanks as ever to the crew and staff of Seatruck who make this crossing a pleasure.

Stephen Dunstan and Carol Greig - Research Surveyors for MARINElife