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Felixstowe-Vlaardingen survey 7 February

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2


Seabirds

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 129

Common Gull Larus canus 21

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 32

Gannet Morus bassanus 3

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 35

Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 580

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 24

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20

Diver sp. 7

Gull sp. 584

Larus sp. 57

Terrestrial/ River birds

Brent Goose Branta bernicla 8

Canada Goose Branta canadensis 2

Coot Fulica atra 49

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 2

Gadwall Mareca strepera 134

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 3

Greylag Goose Anser anser 10

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 85

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 35

Redshank Tringa totanus 6

Teal Anas crecca 1

Wigeon Mareca penelope 2

Duck sp. 40

Wader sp. 17


Weather

Outward: bright with glare becoming overcast with fog, visibility good-poor, wind ESE-SE force 4-2

Return: bright, good visibility with glare at times, wind SE veering WSW force 2


The MARINElife survey team joined the Suecia Seaways on the Felixstowe to Vlaardingen route late on 6th February, ready to survey bright and early at dawn the following morning.

The journey over was smooth and quiet, yielding no cetacean sightings into Vlaardingen. Bird sightings were quiet at sea but picked up as the vessel entered the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) of the River Maas, heading towards Vlaardingen DFDS Terminal at Vulcaanhaven.

Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

A variety of gulls were recorded including Herring, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and Kittiwake together with a variety of duck and geese, including Gadwall and Brent Goose.

As we moved into the river, heavy fog meant that after half an hour surveying had to stop, as the banks were obscured by fog and visibility was limited to the deck in front of us.

Gadwall (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On the return transect we were able to start surveying once the ship had cleared the dock and busy traffic area. The mist and fog had burnt off and both sides of the waterway were visible on the way back.


Between the DFDS terminal and the river mouth we counted river birds, Redshank and Oystercatcher and many Cormorant. Once out into the open sea it was incredibly calm, a pleasant surprise, on this first trip of the year and unusual so early in the calendar. Shortly after entering the North Sea, we encountered a Grey Seal watching us, followed forty minutes later by a second one. We continued surveying until the light levels dropped and the sun set, a beautiful way to end the day.

Grey Seal (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

As always, our thanks go to the staff of DFDS Seaways, the crew of Suecia Seaways together with their Captains Peter Brusedal and Christian Christianson, as well as the staff of the Port of Felixstowe for making the survey possible.

Julie Ackroyd and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

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