I spent a weekend with Stephen Marsh, Cait Cochrane and our newly appointed wildlife officers Kathryn Driscoll and Stephanie Barnicoat on the fabulous DFDS Seways super ferry ‘The King of Scandinavia’ crossing over from ‘Jordie’ Newcastle to the Port of Ijmuduiden in North Holland (pronounced ‘Im-mo-den’. I personally was on board not only in my role as trustee but as a member of our grand organisation to see how this years wildlife officer programme (now in its 3rd year) was going to be run. Also I had not done this route before so I was sailing in new waters. DFDS Seaways (who are financing the project) have provided ORCA with an absolutely fabulous facility for the ORCA centre. Its basically like a ‘shop window’ in order to promote the work of the charity. Both DFDS Seaways and ORCA have really gone to town this year in providing some super displays of cetaceans and sea-birds and a host of other things to draw everyones the interest. There is also a children’s activities corner. There is also a great deal of information of places to go and see wildlife and other things of interest on both sides of the great ‘pond’. The observation deck on ‘deck 8’ is a good viewing platform too. The observation deck is forward facing and about 6o feet up from sea level and below the bridge. I was pleasantly surprised at the bird-life we saw on the crossing which ranged from good numbers of gannets, kittiwakes, fulmars, auks, red-throated divers, common scoters, ‘commic’ terns (not sure if they were commons or arctics!), and Cait spotted a ‘porpie’. On reaching the port of Ijmuiden passengers get bussed (or coached) to Amsterdam which takes about 45 minutes and we saw some good bird-life on the way there too including a ‘parakeet’!
The crew of the ship were pleasant efficient and professional. I highly rate the overall ship experience. On arriving in Holland you will get a few hours in Amsterdam to absorb the atmosphere of this ‘buzzing’ city. There are many places of interest to visit in the city for the culture ‘freaks’ or why not take a canal boat ride through the city. Or hire a bicycle! For goodness sake watch out for the bicycles they are everywhere!
If you are an ORCA member and Surveyor you should consider doing a stint as a surveyor on this ship. You could actually perhaps combine a survey and spend a few extra days in Holland. The port of Ijmuiden provides easy access to North Holland to some fabulously rich birding areas such as the Flevoland region or the island of Texel which is a birders paradise particularly now during Spring passage migration. Now is the time too to see the richly multi-coloured tulip fields in bloom.
So whether you are contemplating going on as a surveyor or as a tourist then please call and see Kathryn or Stephanie in the ORCA centre on-board to show your support and join them on one of their presentations or a deck-watch. In my view these ladies are ORCA’s ‘front line’ troops in representing the work of the charity, and I’m sure they will do a sterling job throughout the season.
Elfyn Pugh ORCA Trustee