Sightings Archive

Sightings Archives: December 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Ramsgate-Oostende, “Larkspur” 7th December 2012

Posted 11 December 2012

Mike Bamford and Cliff Morrison: Researcher Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Outbound: Westerly, Force/sea state 4-5. Good visibility. Return: N.W./W.N.W 3, rising to 5. Moderate visibility

Cetaceans
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 7

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis     8
Gannet Morus bassanus     264
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo   8
Great Skua Stercorarius skua     5
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus  1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus   2
Common Gull Larus canus   1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus   85
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus   7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus   258
Little Gull Larus marinus   2
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla    155
Unidentified Gull sp    250
Guillemot Uria aalge   106
Razorbill Alca torda    2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata   8
Unidentified Diver Sp   1
Unidentified Auk Sp    3

Larkspur interiorWe were warmly welcomed, and escorted to the Larkspur by the terminal staff. The ship is a delightful and very comfortable vessel with some beautiful interior art deco design and wood furnishing. We were very kindly offered two comfortable cabins to stow our gear, and after an ample breakfast, the ship sailed and the available light was sufficient to start surveying.

We were welcomed to the Bridge by Captain Blasevic, and set up in the usual position to the right of the consoles. On the outward trip, we saw an excellent variety  of birds, and in greater numbers than we had anticipated, with surprisingly large numbers of Northern Gannet, Kittiwake, and Great Black-backed Gull, and with Great Skua, Little Gull and an Arctic Skua being the 'bonuses'.

We also saw 3 separate groups of Harbour Porpoise, close to the ship, 7 animals in all, in the high seas, suggesting that there were many more which could have be seen in calmer weather.

After a turnaround in Oostende, which gave a chance to total up the morning's numbers, plus a short nap and an excellent lunch in the truckers dining area, we returned to the bridge.

Herring GullThe wind veered from the NW round to the NE, and visibility became more variable with some rain. Birds became less frequent, but we recorded Red-throated Diver and Cormorant in the shallow offshore waters along the Belgian and French coast, and continuing frequent auks, large numbers of Guillemot, and large gulls.

On this trip the light faded at 4 pm, and we could regroup before leaving the ship at Ramsgate.

We were very hospitably treated on the ship by the crew, who showed great interest in our work on the bridge, and we look forward to another opportunity to do this compact and interesting survey.

Michael Bamford and Cliff Morrison; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)