Our survey commenced at 08.30 with the fair light conditions but as our crossing progressed the swell and waves of the previous day's storm increased. Although there was no precipitation, the low clouds made surveying challenging.
No marine mammals were seen on the survey but there were few seabirds about, including small numbers of Kittiwake and Fulmar. As we made our way past the entrance lighthouses and the end of the first leg of the survey towards Dublin Port and our berth, a Grey Seal spy-hopped to watch our progress. In the port there was plenty of bird life, with Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, and a single Mediterranean Gull resting on buoys. A single Great Northern Diver was seen fishing, and there was also a lonely first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose.
The Panorama was in the outer berth to refuel, and this is a great spot for sighting birds over the adjacent sand flats and harbour furniture, and we watched several Common Gull and a sprinkling of winter-plumaged Black Guillemot, with diving Cormorant and Shag being numerous.
Our departure was delayed somewhat for a full refuelling of the Panorama, and tribes of Black-headed Gull, still in their non-breeding plumage, lined the gantries. A Common Buzzard touched down briefly, and a pair of Grey Heron stalked the edge of the water.
Finally, as we made our way out of the harbour two flocks of Brent Goose passed overhead, and Dave counted about 400 Teal in the bay next to the harbour. To my delight, a pair of male Eider saluted the ship with a flypast - not a usual sight in Dublin!
With the late departure from Dublin, the survey time as we sailed back to Heysham was cut short by the fading daylight and we saw only single numbers of Cormorant, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, and Great Black-backed Gull.
Our thanks go to the Captain, Officers, and crew of the Panorama for making us feel welcomed on board. This beautiful ship will now be departing for a new life off Mexican shores in the next few weeks.
Nuala Campbell and Dave Shackleton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Outbound: low cloud, sea state 6-7, wind W force 6
Return: low cloud, sea state 6-7, wind NW force 6
Summary of Sightings
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1 (in Dublin port)
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Cormorant/Shag Phalacrocorax sp. 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 25
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp. 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Great Black-Backed gull Larus marinus 5
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Birds in Dublin port
Pale-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicula ssp. hrota
Teal Anas crecca 400
Eider Somateria mollissima 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 1