John Perry and Jan Ozyer, Research Surveyors for
Weather: Partial cloud, wind moderate 6-7 predominantly from the NE. No precipitation.
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 11
Dolphin sp 1
Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 13
Eider Somateria mollissima 84
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 42
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 458
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 11,528
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 41
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 18
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 11
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 81
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 27
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 43
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 35
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 501
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 213
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 3
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba 1
Dunnock Prunella modularis 1
Robin Erithacus rubecula 1
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 3
Blackbird Turdus merula 1
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 7
At Rosyth Port we were welcomed by the helpful and efficient DFDS staff who quickly escorted us aboard the 'Longstone'. After leaving our bags in the luxurious cabins we were taken straight to the bridge where we were greeted by the very friendly Captain Mike Farmer.
We set sail just after noon and were followed through the Firth of Forth by a collection of assorted gulls. Shortly after passing under the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, we came across a flock of Eider and as we made our way out of the Firth, we began to see the first of what would be very many Gannet.
The number of Gannet increased rapidly as we approached Bass Rock which had an estimated minimum of 5000 Gannet still in residence. We also had the first of a number of Great Skua which we encountered throughout the day. On reaching open sea, the number of Guillemot began to increase, most already in winter plumage. A Sooty Shearwater was spotted just past St. Abb's Head as well as a few Manx Shearwater. Approaching the Farne Islands, we also had large numbers of Kittiwake and Fulmar.
As the afternoon turned to evening, the light inevitably began to make identification difficult and at 18:30 we closed the survey for the day and enjoyed a hearty dinner followed by a pleasant evening in the Passenger Lounge watching England beat Montenegro in the World Cup Qualifiers.
Gannet (Rob Petley-Jones)
A good night's sleep was had in our very comfortable cabins and after an excellent breakfast, we were back on the bridge just after sunrise. There had clearly been significant migration overnight as throughout the morning we were constantly visited by a variety of passerines including Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chaffinch and Dunnock. Small flocks of Brent Geese were also seen as well as a Pomarine Skua and flocks of Common Scoter. We arrived alongside our berth in Zeebrugge at 11:00 and after a good lunch, spent the afternoon enjoying the pleasant Belgian sunshine whilst watching the fascinating operations of loading the ship for the return journey.
The ship departed just after 16:00 and, as we left Zeebrugge, in addition to the usual escort of gulls, we had excellent sightings of Little Gull and Great Crested Grebe. The sea was now flat calm and we were able to keeping observing until 18:30 with a solitary Gannet silhouetted in the fading light bringing the day's activities to a close.
After another comfortable night, we joined the bridge at first light just as the ship was passing Teesmouth. The Farne Islands brought excellent sightings of Guillemot and Razorbill and as we got closer to Bass Rock we counted over 300 adult Gannet in the air as well as the thousands still in residence on the rock. Moving into the Firth of Forth we came across a number of feeding parties of Kittiwake and as we approached the Forth Bridges, large numbers of juvenile (1st winter) Gannet.
Great Skua (Mark Darlaston)
The ship docked on schedule and we would like to thank Capt. Mike Farmer and his crew for a very pleasant survey.
John Perry and Jan Ozyer, Research Surveyors for MARINElife