What a great morning bridge watch the ORCA passengers had on Dan Sirena! The hanging bridge provides excellent views over the sea. The current high pressure system and gentle SE winds also provided us with a lovely flat sea. First a porpoise was spotted riding the bow wave under the bridge and we watched it head away from the ship from the window on the port side. Next a whale rolled over near to the boat with a length of approx 10 metres and a small dorsal fin this was probably a Minke whale. Passengers also saw a small pod of dolphins out to sea and from the desciption they were likely to be Bottlenose dolphins. To top off the hour we watched a Grey seal porpoising alongside the ship.
All was not quiet on the bird front out to sea or on the boat. Little auks have been seen on the last 2 trips. They are an Arctic breeding species usually seen in the Atlantic in Winter but they can be pushed into the North Sea by Autumn gales. Big rafts of Razor bills were lifting off the sea along with a few of their close relatives the Guillemots.
There were great views of a migrating Great northern diver (Loon), heading south. They are often solitary in Winter passage and can have a sea food as well as a fresh water diet.
At breakfast passengers eating their breakfast watched a Woodcock flying round and occasionally resting on the ship. This large wader is a relative of the snipe. Their cryptic orangey brown and black pattern provides them with excellent camouflage in their woodland habitat. As a crepuscular bird they are less often seen out at sea mid morning!
A few smaller birds may have had a detour east on their southwards passage-as listed on board with us going into Denmark was a Redwing, Greenfinch, and a Blackbird. Although these species are not full migrants some individuals may still head South.
Lots of waders and Brent Geese could be viewed feeding on the inter-tidal mudflats as we entered the Harbour at Esbjerg. But only adult 1 Common harbour seal was seen on the haul out with one more in the harbour. On the next trip ORCA passengers will head to Sonderho on Fano to investigate the other seal Colony at the South of the island.
The trip back to Harwich carried some more stowaways heading South-West including a female Blackbird, a Song thrush and a Robin. As one of the few ships out at sea we also had a number of Herring and Greater black backed Gulls following us all the way into Harwich port.