Heysham-Dublin 13 December
Summary of sightings
Common Dolphin Delphinus Delphis 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Common Gull Larus canus 13
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Razorbill Alca torda 18
Wind: N 3-4, sea state 3-4, good visibility
After a smooth transfer to the ship on Monday night I joined the bridge just before first light as we neared Dublin. There was not much activity at first, although a Fulmar passing was the only one of the survey. A group of 17 Razorbill passed the boat at close range and some Kittiwake were seen. Shortly before we entered the harbour a couple of Harbour Porpoise moved quickly across the front of the ship.
I did not record the birds in the harbour for survey purposes but there were about 500 Wigeon feeding with gulls at the power station outflow. When the boat departed again the Wigeon had moved on but there were even more gulls, with perhaps a thousand or more Black-headed Gull. As the boat headed to the outer limits of the harbour a couple of flocks of Knot went past.
Soon after survey effort recommenced the only Red-throated Diver of the survey flew north across Dublin Bay, and a couple of Gannets were noted. Both initially looking essentially adult but when the second was seen at close range the pale head and some marks on the wing suggested a very advanced immature.
Few birds were seen as we moved away from shore, but the best was saved until last as at least one Common Dolphin threw itself high into the air several times as it approached the boat before going down the starboard side. With limited survey time in December on this route the range of species was good.
Thanks to the crew of the Seatruck Pace and the land staff at Heysham Port who were all very helpful and a pleasure to deal with.
Stephen Dunstan, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)