• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

seabirdwatching potential new ferry route between Eemshaven NL and Kristiansand NO (1 Viewer)

HouseCrow

Well-known member
Good morning,
after having had 2 two nice ferrytrips to the Tokyo Islands in 2018 en 2020. I started wondering if such a thing would not be nice to do for a birding trip in the Northsea.
Now this week news came out that a ferry is going to take up a new route from the Northern Netherlands to Southern Norway along the west coast of Danmark.


I have no experience with offshore birdwatching in Europe. Would that be a potentially good trip to do? in spring or autumn?

I am from the Netherlands, there I only saw a few seabirds during stormwatches: a distant shearwater or two, some petrels and a few skua's

The vessel that goes from Tokyo to the Izu Islands in Japan is quite small and open, which gives relatively good access to the birds. (Large Passenger Ship | Tachibana-Maru | Tokai Kisen Co., Ltd. | Travel and Tours to the Izu Islands | Tokai Kisen Co., Ltd. | Travel and Tours to the Izu Islands)

That does not seem to be the case here.

Hope to hear what your thoughts are
cheers,
G erben
 
Last edited:

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
I have done some surveying for seabirds and cetaceans in the North Sea (e.g. on Hull-Zeebrugge three times and Immingham-Brevik-Gothenburg). Generally it is fairly slow going, but obviously anything can happen with seabirds and I did see Belgium's first confirmed Black-browed Albatross (not the Sylt/Bempton bird) so you never know!

If you go on the Marinelife website they have an archive of past survey results which would give you some indication.
 

MJB

Well-known member
I hope that it succeeds, both commercially and as a rich source of seabirds! However, it got me thinking. Given that there has been a huge increase in ferries from the EU directly to Ireland, round trips (in daylight, of course!) could be useful mini-pelagics! For example "Irish Ferries operate 1 route, Cherbourg to Dublin which runs 4 times weekly. Brittany Ferries operate 3 routes, Cherbourg to Rosslare runs 1 time per week, Roscoff to Cork about 1 time weekly & Roscoff to Rosslare about 1 time weekly. Stena Line operates 1 route, Cherbourg to Rosslare which runs 2 times weekly."

St Malo is also in the mix, but see this map from the Irish site, The Journal:
Ireland-EU ferries.jpeg
It's probably best for those who have good sea-legs!
MJB
 

HouseCrow

Well-known member
thanks for your replies, i will read it properly later, but I forgot to mention that traveltimes are not very positive for birding: starting at 3PM on both sides, arrival 9AM. That leaves an ok amount of time, but not ample...

should have added that

cheers,
G
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Even leaving at 3 pm, you'll still have fairly long hours of daylight from late spring through to autumn. And if you get up early, you've got many daylight hours before the ferry gets to its destination.

I'd love to see a ferry from Scotland to Iceland via Faroe Islands. You can already get a ferry to Orkney and Shetland Islands, just add on an extra couple of legs and extend the trips north.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
Eemshaven–Kristiansand may be good at the northern end when you are in the Skagerrak, which is quite deep for the North Sea. The southeastern part of the North Sea is not great for rare seabirds, as any Dutch seawatcher can tell!
 

HouseCrow

Well-known member
@Stephen: thanks I will check that website. Congratulations on the first confirmed Belgium Albatross.... Great bird group....only caught glimpses of them but still.... I won't be expecting those on that trip....but it is possible of course.
This site you mean: Survey Reports | MARINElife

@MJB now these are good waters I know.... I have never had the chance to take a ferry there. Among birders here we had some dreamy discussions about taking ferries to Spain from Britain back in the day but it never came to that. It might be worth giving it a try.

@JTweedie you are right it is decent enough true. 8 hours of watching more or less on two sides of the night should be enough.

@Xenospiza I suppose it is a still corner of the North Sea. Some seawatching trips go there but no doubt not very far offshore.
To me it is an 1hr trainride away....and i am far from the westcoast which is ok-ish for seawatching during strong westerly gales. The price is also pretty decent (225 Euros) for the roundtrip.

I will have a look online for reports in the vicinity. If it comes to it, I hope to be able to post a glorious report here : )

thanks for the quick replies!
cheers,
G e r b e n
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
€225 is OK indeed.
I saw some seabirds off the Hoek van Holland-Harwich ferry and the (long gone) Vlissingen-Sheerness ferry (e.g. my first Gannets).

(I try to spend at least one day a year in Westkapelle, but that's a 3.5 hour drive for me – at least my mother lives halfway).
 

HouseCrow

Well-known member
Wadden Islands is ok for Gannets and some distant bobbing divers but otherwise... in good strong NW winds the north coast delivers some good stuff but it is always quite distant and fast passing.

My parents live not far from the good seawatching spots on Texel but I never succeeded in seeing anything other than Gannets from the dunes I believe (maybe a 'skua spec')

3,5 hours, you must be somewhere in the North too then : )

cheers,
G
 

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
@Stephen: thanks I will check that website. Congratulations on the first confirmed Belgium Albatross.... Great bird group....only caught glimpses of them but still.... I won't be expecting those on that trip....but it is possible of course.
This site you mean: Survey Reports | MARINElife


thanks for the quick replies!
cheers,
G e r b e n
Hi Gerben,

Yes that's the one but looking at it the past surveys tab which held the data is currently empty following a website revamp. If you go on the Tilbury-Malmo-Helsingborg-Gdynia link though it does have a pdf of the old Tilbury-Gothenburg reports (though not the newer survey it says it has!).

Stephen
 

HouseCrow

Well-known member
Thanks again Stephen, I was just reading the last section...it gives an impression at least.

I should post this to the seabirding fb group too, no doubt some Danes know about these waters.
Also observation.org, ebird and inaturalist may come in handy...although international waters are hard to search through on all these sites I believe.

Danish North Sea Coast recordings at observado.org: Denmark - North Sea | Observation.org


cheers,
G
 
Last edited:

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Whatever route you take is going to be a disappointment for seabirds after the Izu - Tokyo ferry, and probably won't have the large open rear deck which allows easy access either side of the ship.
In my youth I travelled between Sunderland and Reykjavik in midsummer, down the coast of Norway and back across the North Sea from Bergen. I did see a European storm-petrel alongside the ship somewhere off the Faeroes, but generally it was quiet offshore unless you were passing close to islands with breeding colonies of auks etc. It might be a different matter in spring and autumn when skuas are on the move; maybe autumn would be best as you've then got more chance of sooty shearwater and perhaps Sabine's gull.
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
Having spent many hundreds of hours surveying seabirds in the middle of the North Sea I think that you could find much more exciting routes to see seabirds from! Yes, there are interesting pockets out there but I have no idea if the ferries go anywhere near them. By and large it can be quite birdless further offshore, even at the best times of year.
 

Frenchy

Well-known member
Agree with Mark. You are better off watching from the coast. Boats are great when you are either in areas of large seabird density or attracting them through chumming. A ferry through the eastern sector of North Sea would be very, very dull. In fact I bet there is more potential for exciting passerines in spring and autumn than for seabirds! Those ships from France to Ireland would be better, but they wont be getting anywhere near the shelf edge, so again it will be very hit and miss.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Even leaving at 3 pm, you'll still have fairly long hours of daylight from late spring through to autumn. And if you get up early, you've got many daylight hours before the ferry gets to its destination.

I'd love to see a ferry from Scotland to Iceland via Faroe Islands. You can already get a ferry to Orkney and Shetland Islands, just add on an extra couple of legs and extend the trips north.

There is a ferry from Denmark through Faroe Islands to Iceland - the Norrona - which used to go to Shetland, but I think they stopped doing that a few year ago, so your wish is going the other direction than you'd like to see, sadly. The main problem with Norrona is that it's expensive as hell compared to just flying to Iceland - and ot goes from a very obscure point in Denmark.

Speaking of ferry seawatching in general, many people told me that the best place is Bay of Biscay on the route between north coast of Spain and the UK, especially in September-October where the bay is full of Sabine's gulls, Sooties, Great Shears, Skuas etc.
 

leonardo_simon

Well-known member
There is a ferry from Denmark through Faroe Islands to Iceland - the Norrona - which used to go to Shetland, but I think they stopped doing that a few year ago, so your wish is going the other direction than you'd like to see, sadly. The main problem with Norrona is that it's expensive as hell compared to just flying to Iceland - and ot goes from a very obscure point in Denmark.

Speaking of ferry seawatching in general, many people told me that the best place is Bay of Biscay on the route between north coast of Spain and the UK, especially in September-October where the bay is full of Sabine's gulls, Sooties, Great Shears, Skuas etc.
& I heard somewhere that Brittany Ferries are now going slower on the Spain to Uk routes to help reducing emissions. Which should be better to see stuff shouldn’t it?
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
You get some great sightings from local ferries too eg Ardrossan to Arran, Oban to Mull, around Shetland, although the journey times are quite short, so you need a bit of luck.

I stood out on the deck on the ferry between Spain and Morocco but there wasn't too much to see that day. But I know it's a hotspot as there are specialist wildlife watching tours that go out from Tarifa. I'd really like to go back during peak migration season, boat trips + Gibraltar.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Even leaving at 3 pm, you'll still have fairly long hours of daylight from late spring through to autumn. And if you get up early, you've got many daylight hours before the ferry gets to its destination.

I'd love to see a ferry from Scotland to Iceland via Faroe Islands. You can already get a ferry to Orkney and Shetland Islands, just add on an extra couple of legs and extend the trips north.
They used to be one:
MV_Gullfoss

I once knew a guy a little older than me who told be about a trip he did on it from Reykjavik to Scotland in his youth. Apparently it was one big party, with the lifeboats being put to imaginative use...
 

DMW

Well-known member
What are the best scheduled ferry services worldwide for pelagic birding? The only one I've taken that was especially notable was the now defunct Kushiro - Tokyo service, which was truly epic (3 species of albatross including 2,500 Laysan, 8 species of alcid, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel etc, plus many sea ducks, divers, Steller's Sea Eagle etc inshore. All for £80.

The ferry to the Ogasawara islands must be up there too, although not cheap. Alaska Marine Highway to Dutch Harbor?
 

SlowLowFlyingTurkey

Well-known member
In May 2006 I took a ferry from Shetland (Lerwick) to Iceland via Faroe Islands. It took two days, gave a good few hours in the Faroes, and arrived into the eastern side of Iceland, ie, about as far from Reykjavik as you can get. The first day was very rough but the second was more pleasant. I slept in the cheap bunkhouse cabin, but private cabins were also available. Birds seen were as expected in the north Atlantic - auks, gulls, Fulmars, Gannets. As far as I know this is still possible with Smyril Line. I also got to Lerwick on the ferry from Aberdeen, but this sailed overnight so no good for birding.

Possibly the best ferry in Europe for birds and other wildlife is across the Bay of Biscay to northern Spain. I did this in August 2010 just before they closed the route between Portsmouth and Bilbao (I went on the penultimate sailing), but I think there are still ferries from UK to Spain. I went with Company of Whales, who had special access to the roof of the bridge with great views over the front of the boat and expert guides, but there were plenty of independent birders and whale watchers on the decks. Off the top of my head, we had Storm Petrels, Long-tailed Skuas, Cory's Shears., Sabine's Gulls (including one standing on an Ocean Sunfish), lots of Fin and Minke Whales, a fairly distant Blue Whale, Pilot Whales, Northern Bottlenosed Whale, Common, Bottlenosed and Striped Dolphins, and a lot more common birds. The edge of the continental shelf just off the Spanish coast is meant to be good for beaked whales but we didn't see any. We had about half a day in Spain before the return trip in which we walked up hill from the port into some countryside and got birds such as Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike, and somebody (not me) even found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

In the last decade or so I've also been on ferries between Harwich and Hook of Holland, Harwich and Esbjerg (Denmark - no longer running), Frederikshavn (Denmark) to Gothenburg (Sweden) and Portsmouth to Caen (France), none of which were particularly good for birding as far as I can remember.

I believe there is (or was?) a ferry from south-west Spain to the Canary Islands which sounds interesting.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top