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Heysham-Dublin survey 9 April

We boarded the CLdN Pace at around 23.15 on Monday evening, and after a a friendly welcome from the stewards we turned in, agreeing to meet for breakfast at 7am. We awoke to a dry, dull sky, and after a cooked breakfast we were taken up to start the survey at 07.30.

 

Visibility was good and the horizon beckoned. There were several sightings of Gannet, Guillemot, Kittiwake, and Manx Shearwater, and we had the pleasure of two Gannets for company, circling the ship. The sea state reflected the aftermath of Storm Kathleen making cetacean sightings a challenge.

 

Heading towards Dublin there was a steady flow of sightings, including Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, and some immature gulls. Several gulls and three Gannets were associating with a returning fishing boat, and several Cormorant and Shag were seen as we approached land.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The outward survey finished as the ship passed the red lighthouse, and we berthed in Dublin harbour. Here, the mud flats and marshes were not visible, due to the very high tide, but a flock of 20 Curlew flew passed at bridge height, looking eye to eye with us! There were many immature gulls flying around, and a skein of unknown geese flew out to sea on the far side of the harbour, possibly Light-bellied Brent Geese and a Jackdaw flew past. 

 

Whilst the crew were busy unloading and reloading containers on the decks we were well fed and watered at lunchtime and so were refreshed and ready for the return journey.

 

The visibility remained clear for the return stage to the survey, and the sea state lessened over the course of the afternoon as more blue sky appeared. Sightings increased and there was a feeding frenzy before we neared the Isle of Man, made up of Gannet, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot, Fulmar and Manx Shearwater.

Manx Shearwaters (Library photo: Rick Morris)

More birds were rafting on the water, and one bird close to the ship looked smaller, we were amazed to realise this was a Little Auk, quietly resting. (Ed: probably blown in by Storm Kathleen).


Another hearty meal in the evening whilst the other surveyor had a busy time with sightings which decreased with the fading daylight. The sun was starting to set as we stopped surveying at 20.00.

 

Our thanks go to Captain Viktors Surharevs and his crew who were very welcoming, and to CLdN staff for their efficiency at getting us on and off the ship. The stewards did a great job looking after us, with the comfortable cabin preparation and the sustaining food.

Nuala Campbell and Iphthime Millward, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Weather

Wind NW, force 5-7 falling to 4, good visibility, sea state 6-8

 

Summary of Sightings

Seabirds

Gannet  Morus bassanus 37

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 42

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 165

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1

Cormorant/Shag Phalacrocorax sp. 2

Guillemot Uria aalge 144

Razorbill Alca torda 13

Little Auk Alle alle 1

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 6

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 163

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1

Common Gull Larus canus 1

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 2

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2

Shearwater sp. 1

Gull sp. 29

Auk sp. 31

 

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