Sightings Archives: May 2016

MARINElife Survey Report: Seatruck ‘Progress’ / ‘Power’ Liverpool-Dublin 12-13 May 2016

Posted 28 May 2016

Jenny Ball, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind NW 5-6 out, NE F4-5 on return, visibility good, but affected by glare, especially sailing west.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 53
Gannet Morus bassanus 24
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 22
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 62
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 13
Guillemot Uria aalge 160
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Gull sp. 36
Tern sp. 52

Terrestrial Birds
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

It was 'back-to-front day' on board the Seatruck Progress: lunch was served as soon as I boarded the ship at 10:00, with the promise of breakfast later in the day…

I was welcomed onto the bridge once we had entered the sea lock by the Master and the First Officer, who explained that there would be a short delay because of depth issues just outside the lock. We therefore waited for the tide to rise, and finally sailed at 12:00.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 11
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The conditions on the outbound leg were by no means ideal for seeing cetaceans or identifying birds - bright and breezy. The waves masked any fins and the glare became more and more of an issue as the afternoon wore on, making large sections of the sea very difficult to survey.

Sightings were fairly sparse during the journey to Dublin, just a scattering of Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and Gannet, with some Kittiwake and the occasional Fulmar deep in the Irish Sea. The main moments of excitement were provided by what might have been a Pomarine Skua on its way north and a fleeting sight of a possible cetacean. This was quickly followed by a big mixed flock of terns. On the way into Dublin Bay, I had a brief sight of two Harbour Porpoise, concluding a fairly quiet day.

Manx Shearwater Mike Bailey 01a
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

After a pleasant evening enjoying the vibrant sights and sounds of Dublin, I was ready for the return trip back to Liverpool aboard the Seatruck Power. Once again, I was made to feel most welcome by the Master and crew and settled down to a day of steady sightings, mostly of Guillemot, Kittiwake and various gulls. A good number of Manx Shearwater were seen and I had two isolated views of Harbour Porpoise during the crossing. As we skirted the windfarms in Liverpool Bay there were a number of flocks of mixed gulls on the water, some of which were feeding. These were more or less the last sightings and concluded a useful couple of days.

Many thanks to the Seatruck crew and port staff, who made my survey not only possible but comfortable and relaxed.