Felixstowe-Vlaardingen survey 7 February
Summary of sightings:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
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
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.
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.
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.
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)