It’s early October and I’m back on board the Dana Sirena as a volunteer wildlife officer. I was helping out Dylan Walker of the eco-tour company ‘Planet Whale’ who had 22 guests on a joint DFDS Seaways/Planet Whale ‘Miracle of Migration’ mini-cruise. Kathryn Driscoll the ‘official’ on-board wildlife officer was also part of the guiding team. We had a great time on board on our crossing from Harwich to Esbjerg spotting oceanic seabirds and some migrating land birds at sea. However the highlight of this trip was a full day we spent birding on the glorious island of Fano using the services of the local bird expert Kim Fischer. His identification skills were absolutely awesome. We took the short ferry ride to the island at the crack of dawn and witnessed the sun rising above the horizon it was fantastic. This is the peak period for bird migration with birds moving from their breeding grounds in northern or eastern Europe to warmer climes or where there is better food availability. Whilst on the island we saw a phenomenal migration of land birds mainly passerine (perching) birds of the finch and thrush family. On our voyage across the north sea we had some birds alight on the deck of the ship which included a blackcap, a meadow pipit and even a grey heron! These movements across open areas of water pose a hazard to migrating birds and many perish in the process so they welcome a temporary rest on board a moving ship. During our ‘Miracle of Migration’ cruise we recorded no less than 98 species of birds which is exceptionally good. We also saw harbour and grey seals and some of the group had a brief view of a porpoise.
Volunteer Wildlife Officer