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Felixstowe-Vlaardingen survey 7 March

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 66

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 2

Common Gull Larus canus 7

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 300

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 38

Eider Somateria mollissima 2

Gannet Morus bassanus 7

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 114

Guillemot Uria aalge 2

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 585

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 5

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 17

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 2

Razorbill Alca torda 18

Auk sp. 3

Larus sp. 477


Terrestrial Birds

Carrion Crow Corvus corone 19

Coot Fulica atra 96

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 9

Gadwall Anas strepera 462

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 5

Greylag Goose Anser anser 11

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 9

Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2

Pochard Aythya ferina 1

Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2

Wigeon Anas penelope 55

Goose sp. 4

Duck sp. 62


Weather

Outward: cloudy with occasional rain, moderate visibility, wind NW force 6 -2.

Return: less cloudy, rain easing, visibility moderate to good with glare late in the day, wind W-NW force 6-5.


I joined the Acacia Seaways on the Felixstowe to Vlaardingen route late on 6th March, ready to survey bright and early at dawn the following morning. This was the first time that MARINElife had surveyed on this ship and the Chief Officer, Nikolaj Mulenko, was kind enough to welcome me onboard and show me the officers mess and the bridge before the ship sailed to enable me to familiarise myself with the vessel layout.

Common Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The journey over was smooth and quiet and I started surveying just before 7a.m. The ships master, Jouke Siemensma, welcomed me onto the bridge and we talked briefly about the survey I was undertaking. Bird sightings were initially quiet with only Black-throated Diver, Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull and Common Gull seen out at sea together with two Starling that flew onto the ship to shelter from the cold and hunkered down under the ships’ side-rail. As we approached the Netherlands coast, several flocks of birds were sighted heading northward close to the seas’ surface that turned out to be Common Scoter.


As the vessel entered the Nieuwe Waterweg, the New Waterway of the River Maas, heading towards the Vlaardingen DFDS Terminal at Vulcaanweg, bird numbers picked up. A variety of gulls were surveyed including Herring, Great and Lesser Black-backed, and Black-headed. Large numbers of duck including Gadwall, Mallard and Wigeon were also seen together with Coots at the rivers’ edge. Goose species including Egyptian Goose and Greylag were also recorded.


On the return transect, between the DFDS terminal and the North Sea I recorded the river birds, together with Great-crested Grebe, Oystercatcher, Cormorant and a solitary Mute Swan.


Just before entering the North Sea, I recorded a pair of Eider duck, a female and a male, the latter looking very smart in his breeding plumage.

Pair of Eider (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Once into the North Sea, I recorded Gannet, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot and a couple of Little Gull before the light levels dropped, the sun set, and I left the bridge to compile my sightings. Sadly no marine mammals were seen, but this should improve later in the year


As always, my thanks go to the shore staff at DFDS Seaways Dooley Terminal, the master of Acacia Seaways, Jouke Siemensma, together with his officers and crew for making the survey enjoyable and possible and for the Security Staff in enabling me to board the vessel at the Port of Felixstowe.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

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