Janet Shepherd and Ruth Hoban; Research Surveyors for
Outward: overcast, fair visibility, wind southerly force 5-6.
Return: clear skies, good visibility, wind south-westerly force 5-7
Summary of sightings
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Shoveler Anas clypeata 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 20
Gannet Morus bassanus 103
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Common Gull Larus canus 78
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 140
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 61
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 62
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 354
Razorbill Alca torda 10
Gull Sp 14
Auk Sp 1
Diver Sp 4
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 1
We arrived at Rosyth docks to a warm welcome from the staff and boarded the ship on arrival. We were taken to our cabins and then on to the bridge to meet Captain Mike Farmer who made us very welcome and explained the layout of the vessel. The ship was due to depart at 04:00 so we retired to bed to be ready for a fairly early start. After a hearty breakfast we started the survey.
It was a quiet and steady voyage south and, although there were relatively small numbers of birds and no cetaceans, we did sight a Great Skua and two Puffin. Daylight hours are few at this time of year so we were able to collate the day's recordings before having a lovely dinner and an early night.
The ship docked in Zeebrugge at 04:00 and we departed at 09:00 with a full cargo. Even the staff were taking pictures of the load. We had a leisurely start with sightings of Great Crested Grebe from the ship whilst moored at the dock.
Puffin (Pete Howlett)
Harbour Porpoise (Mike Bailey)
Soon after departure a Harbour Porpoise was sighted and we had regular sightings of Kittiwake, Guillemot and Gannet. We also had a good view of two Shoveler, as they flew over the front of the vessel. It was an informative afternoon, with the crew sharing their knowledge and experiences with us. We noticed the temperature of the water rapidly change by 2 degrees and in the colder waters we saw significantly less birds.
After dinner we collated our sightings and drafted this report before settling down to watch the semi final of 'Strictly'. The ship docked at 08:00 and, although we were on the bridge from 07.00, it was too dark to see any wildlife but we did have magnificent views of the Forth Bridges. Thank you again to Captain Farmer and his crew for a very enjoyable and informative voyage, and for making us so welcome.
Janet Shepherd and Ruth Hoban; Research Surveyors for MARNElife