MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Progress & Seatruck Power' 6th - 7th February 2014

Stephen Dunstan - Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Conditions westbound: Wind 2-4
Conditions eastbound: Wind 3-5


Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 17
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 108
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 106
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 6
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 59
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 98
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 139
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 65
Guillemot Uria aalge 51
Razorbill Alca torda 23
Large gull sp. 53
Auk sp.    8

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01Following a smooth check in I was soon on board the Seatruck Power in conditions that were surprisingly benign given recent storms.  As we navigated the dock a flock of Canada Geese were evident, with 68 birds in total, and a few Turnstone fed on exposed shells as we waited to leave the lock.  Beginning survey effort in earnest as we left the estuary a few gulls began to be seen, including a charming adult Little Gull just beyond the Mersey Bar.

A frustrating glimpse of a porpoise or dolphin was put behind me when a definite Harbour Porpoise was seen passing Anglesey.  In the same area a Great Skua was a welcome addition to the trip list as they are scarce in the Irish Sea at this time of year.  A single Gannet was also recorded whilst Fulmar, Kittiwake and Guillemot were being seen regularly and a few Razorbill were also noted.  Due to the 11.00 departure time, dusk descended whilst we were still at sea.  Following fish and chips on board I disembarked and walked through the port to Jury's Inn Custom House Quay where a free room was kindly provided as part of Jury's ongoing sponsorship.

Day two was sunny and as I walked through the docks there was quite a bit of birdlife including Meadow Pipit and several species of finch.  Adjacent to the Seatruck terminal was a good view of the estuary and among the birds seen were Brent Goose, Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser.

Med gullFollowing another smooth transfer I joined the crew of the Seatruck Power on the bridge.  Leaving Dublin behind an adult Mediterranean Gull was another new species for the trip.  Fulmar were more evident than on the westbound run including a large group around a fishing boat.  The winds picked up during the crossing but despite this a Harbour Porpoise was seen at close range in front of the boat.  Nearing Liverpool two adult Little Gull were seen among the commoner species.

We docked whilst it was still light so a full crossing of observations was made, in glorious sunshine to boot.  Overall it was an enjoyable survey with a very decent range of birds for the time of year and some welcome cetacean records.

Stephen Dunstan - Research Surveyor for MARINElife