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Heysham-Warrenpoint survey 7-8 December

I was trying out a new set of image stabilising binoculars on this trip and if the number of sightings on the outbound survey is anything to go by then they did not work very well. The conditions were challenging with a sea state of 7 for most of the day, and visibility was down to less than 1 km for some of the passage. Actually, the binoculars proved very successful in removing most of the jitter you get from the ships' vibrations.

Kittiwake (Library photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

In the whole day, there was only half a sheet of bird sightings, where Kittiwake was the most numerous with a grand total of 24 seen. There were only two Gannet seen and only a few auks. One small pod of Common Dolphin passed the bow late in the day but no other cetaceans were seen.


The return journey had similar conditions and a similar result. As the survey was started in the river at Warrenpoint, a few Cormorant were observed, and these turned out to be the most numerous bird of the survey. There were no cetaceans seen on the return. 


The light had got so drear by 15:30 that the survey had to be ended just as we were coming to the wind farm where you often see Harbour Porpoise.

Little Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

It was sad to see the demise of the Lough and Quay in Warrenpoint, which closed for business in October. This was the warm hotel where MARINElife volunteers have been lodging for a number of years, so future survey teams will have to find somewhere else to drink their Guiness!


So, what did we learn on this trip:

•  An image stabilised sea state 7 still looks like a sea state 7

•  The Lough and Quay is under new lock and key


I would like to thank the crews of the Seatruck Performance and Point for looking after me.

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Outbound: overcast, sea state 6-7, wind SE force 6-7

Return: overcast, sea state 7, wind NW force 6-7


Summary of Sightings

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2



Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 6

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 36

Gannet Morus bassanus 4

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2

Guillemot Uria aalge 25

Razorbill Alca torda 4

Auk sp. 12

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 33

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6

Gull sp. 6


Terrestrial birds

Carrion Crow Corvus corone 1

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