Dover-Calais

Recent Sightings

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (11 February 2017)

Posted 15 February 2017

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (17 January 2017)

Posted 24 January 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright,, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather:
Sea state 2-3, dry and sunny with variable mist patches. Visibility moderate to good with occasional glare.

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 41
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 13
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Common Gull Larus canus 180
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 362
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 69
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 161
Guillemot Uria aalge 97
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Larus sp. 149

Initially it was planned to do this survey on Saturday, but strong winds and tidal surges resulting from the deep low pressure in the Norway basin meant that survey data would not be meaningful. By Tuesday a high pressure system was dominating the southeast of England and conditions were ideal for surveying. The high pressure and light winds resulted in blue skies with fog and mist patches low over the sea.

I drove down to Dover terminal and was one of the first vehicles to board the ship. I made my way to the information desk and was taken to the Bridge.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 03Initially I picked up a variety of gulls including Herring, Black-Headed, Lesser and Great Black-backed. A few Cormorant were also seen. In the Channel Guillemot, Kittiwake, Common Gull and Gannet were seen. A couple of times on the outbound, leg larger groups of mixed birds were in evidence with feeding activity observed.

Half way across the Channel I caught sight of movement close to the port bow. Two Harbour Porpoise were swimming in a relaxed manner away from the ship.

Guillemot and Kittiwake were left behind as the ship approached Calais. Common, Herring and Black-backed Gull left the port to welcome the ship into the harbour, hoping to take advantage of the ships movement to obtain an easy meal.

Common Gull Graham Ekins 03An hour later the ship was heading back to Dover. With only an hour of daylight left many gulls were heading to their evening roosts on the harbour walls. Bird sightings were constant on the return leg and one further sighting of a distant Harbour Porpoise close to the northbound shipping lane ended my mammal observations for the day.

I concluded my survey as the light faded on the approach to Dover.

My thanks go to both Captains, Officers and crew of the Cote des Flandres for their hospitality and to DFDS Seaways for enabling MARINElife to survey on this busy route. Special thanks goes to Monika at the booking office for amending the booking at such short notice.

Photos:
Gannet (Carol Farmer-Wright)
Common Gull (Graham Ekins)

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Calais-Dover (10 December 2016)

Posted 14 December 2016

Diederik D'Hert and Jozefien Decoene, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Both outward and return trip: Overcast with fog and moderate visibility. SW 6.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 2

Seabirds:
Gannet Morus bassanus 678
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 254
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 8
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 39
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 12
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 44
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 47
Guillemot Uria aalge 6
Auk sp. 3
Gull sp. 61
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1

Herring Gull Adrian Shephard 05

After driving our car to the car deck, we were welcomed on the bridge and installed ourselves on the starboard side of the ship.  As soon as we left port, we were accompanied by a delightful mix of sea birds, including Herring, Common, Black-headed, Caspian, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull, followed by Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot as we headed further into the Channel.

Despite the strong wind (SSW), the waves were not high. Still a little too high for easy observing of rolling fins of Harbour Porpoise, but small enough to see dolphins passing by. We saw some Gannet diving for food and some foraging Great Skua before docking at the port of Dover.

WB Dolphin Rick Morris 01As we arrived in Dover at noon, we enjoyed a delicious meal in the crew mess and then prepared for the return trip to Calais. After around 30 minutes of observing, we got close to a huge gathering of Gannet, most of them resting on the sea surface. Huge flocks of sea birds often indicate feeding frenzies in which dolphins or porpoises also participate. And indeed, only a couple of minutes later, we were rewarded with splashes coming from a couple of White-beaked Dolphin just in front of us, coming into the bows of the ship, energetically turning to bow ride.  It is always exciting to see these animals so close to the ship.

We concluded our survey on arrival in Calais and thanked the captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading back home.

Photos:
Herring Gull (Adrian Shephard)
White-beaked Dolphin (Rick Morris)

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (19 November 2016)

Posted 26 November 2016

Adrian Shephard and Mandy Bright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Sunny with increasing cloud, wind force SW 5-3

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds:
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Gannet Morus bassanus 267
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 125
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 221
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 40
Unidentified auk sp. 4

Gannet Adrian Shephard 16We met in a car park just outside the port in bright and sunny conditions but with a cold breeze blowing. After enjoying a coffee, we headed aboard and were soon preparing to start our survey. Dover is always a busy port with ships coming and going and we were soon heading through the breakwater and into the Channel which did display many whitecaps.

Seabirds were fairly constant throughout the crossing with Gannet and Herring Gull predominating, often in feeding aggregations. We commented that there were likely porpoises in the area, but the conditions precluded all but a single animal being recorded. An occasional Guillemot was seen flying with determination ahead of the ship and as we approached Calais, we added Cormorant to our tally of species.

GBB Gull Adrian Shephard 06After a brief turn around in Calais, we were back to sea, but conditions had started to deteriorate. The cloud cover was now complete and we experienced light fog and rain as the skies darkened. Good numbers of Great Black-backed Gull and further Gannet were recorded as well as a Common Gull close to Dover itself.

We docked and thanked the captain and bridge team for their support and headed ashore.

Photos:
Gannet(Adrian Shephard)
Great Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (15 October 2016)

Posted 03 October 2016

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (17 September 2016)

Posted 13 September 2016

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (20 August 2016)

Posted 18 August 2016

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (18 June 2016)

Posted 22 June 2016

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (21 May 2016)

Posted 21 May 2016

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (19 March 2016)

Posted 10 April 2016

Melissa Goulton and John Little, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Overcast, some light rain, wind force 3-7

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds:
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Unidentified auk sp. 9
Unidentifed gull sp. 3

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 04John and I met up prior to our survey, and shared stories about the marine mammals that we had seen when we have been out at sea. As it was the first survey we had both carried out since the beginning of the year, we were keen to begin looking out for marine wildlife.

Cormorant Graham Ekins 03Shortly into our journey we began to see a variety of seabirds; including Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake. The crew chatted to us about the cetaceans they had seen on the Dover-Calais ferry route recently, and kindly brought us coffee whilst we were looking out to sea. As we approached Calais we recorded a couple of Cormorant flying low over the water and, whilst in port, we watched the gulls circling around the ferry looking for food. We were both impressed at how quickly vehicles were unloaded (and reloaded) at Calais, and it was not long before we were back on the return leg of our survey towards Dover.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15About half way towards Dover we recorded our first marine mammal sighting. John noticed the harbour porpoise's fin near the bow of the ferry, and then I saw a slight splash as it headed away. Considering there were quite a few white caps, it was great that we noticed the porpoise. This was the only marine mammal sighting of our survey, but as we travelled closer to Dover we continued to record many seabirds; including Guillemot that were flying fast over the water, and lots of gulls as we entered the Port of Dover.

All in all a great trip, and thanks to all the crew for enabling this survey to run smoothly.
Photos:
Kittiwake (Peter Howlett)
Cormorant (Graham Ekins)
Harbour Porpoise (Peter Howlett)

MARINElife survey report Dover-Calais February 2016

Posted 17 February 2016

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (23 January 2016)

Posted 31 January 2016

Adrian Shephard and Sian Ponting, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: SSW-S wind force 4-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds:
Gannet Morus bassanus 128
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Common Gull Larus canus 57
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 20
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 23
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 42
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Razorbill Alca torda 33
Guillemot Uria aalge 123
Unidentified quk Sp. 14
Unidentified gull Sp. 62

Gannet Adrian Shephard 10With just over a month since my last survey, I was looking forward to once again joining Malo Seaways to head across to Calais. Whilst this is a short survey, the route can funnel wildlife and therefore be quite busy.

We departed and after a brief flurry of assorted gulls in Dover Harbour, we were soon recording seabirds as we headed out. Despite the mist and fog, sea states were fairly calm.

Herring Gull Adrian Shephard 04The mix of birds was fairly constant, with Gannet and Guillemot the most numerous - some of the Guillemot were already transitioning to their breeding plumage. Kittiwake continued to be seen throughout the crossing with other species like Common and Herring Gull being primarily seen near the two ports.

Around half way across, a group of circling Gannet warranted more detailed observation and a couple of Harbour Porpoise popped up under them; the only marine mammal sighting for the trip.

Razorbill Adrian Shephard 04With Calais in sight, a few Cormorant added to the species list. After a short stop in Calais, we were back to sea with thicker fog for the initial period, however a brief view of a Black-throated Diver added to our species count for the trip.  We also added Razorbill with several groups flying ahead of the ship.

A similar mix of species were seen as we headed back to Dover and with the port entrance in sight, a last minute gull and Gannet frenzy tested our speed-capture of data.

Thank you to all the crew of Malo Seaways for a great survey.

 

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (20 December 2015)

Posted 02 January 2016

Adrian Shephard and Jonny Lawson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: SSW-SW wind force 4-6

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds:
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 8
Common Gull Larus canus 31
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 268
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 180
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 34
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 160
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 24
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3"Baltic"
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus fuscus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 2
Razorbill Alca torda 5

BT Diver Adrian Shephard 02I met up with Jonny in the port to discuss his first MARINElife survey and after a coffee, we boarded Malo Seaways and headed to the bridge to start the survey. Conditions were quite blustery, which made it challenging to spot marine mammals, but ideal for seabirds.

After a flurry of gulls in the harbour, we started our survey and we soon picked up Guillemot, Gannet and Kittiwake. Other gull species were recorded including Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. As the French coast came into sight, we had a brief glimpse of a couple of Little Gull and the first Black-throated Diver of the trip.

With the harbour at Calais in sight, Jonny spotted a fleeting Harbour Porpoise surfacing and we then saw a Grey Seal not far from the harbour entrance. The captain informed us that seals are often seen around the moorings in the harbour itself especially when fishing vessels are in.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 06We watched the efficient way the ship was unloaded and reloaded and before we knew it, we were back at sea with another Grey Seal making an appearance off the starboard side of the ship. More species of seabird were recorded including a number of Lesser Black-backed Gull including a dark so-called "Baltic Gull", Great Skua, a few Fulmar and Razorbill.

As we neared Dover, the seabirds were coming thick and fast and we struggled to keep up with the Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet, Common and Herring Gull whirring around in front of the ship bringing an end to a very productive survey with over 700 seabirds being recorded.

Thank you to all the crew of Malo Seaways for a great survey.

 

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (22 November 2015)

Posted 06 December 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright and Jo Collins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather:
Outward: Dry, good visibility: north-westerly wind force 3-5.
Return: Dry, good visibility: north-westerly wind force 6-7.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 23
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 23
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 39
Gannet Morus bassanus 164
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 105
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 54
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 4
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Mixed gull 27
Larus sp. 13
Auk sp. 2
Medium gull sp. 7

Terrestrial birds:
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 23


Cormorant Peter Howlett 01The jet stream had provided very lively weather in the Channel over the past week, so imagine our delight as we arrived in Dover to see a calm sea before us. We entered the port and awaited the arrival of the Malo Seaways. A fortnight ago, when travelling to Dunkirk, the air temperature was 20 degrees centigrade, today it was only just above freezing; far more appropriate for this time of year.

Once on board we proceeded to the information desk and were taken to the bridge to prepare for our survey. Visibility was good and as we left the outer breakwater we began recording Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull and Gannet. Ten minutes into our crossing a lone Red-throated Diver passed close to the ship. Soon our attention was drawn to a group of migrating Starling heading for the Kent coast, their journey to land almost complete. Gannet and Kittiwake were the main birds recorded in mid channel, these gave way to Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull as we neared the French coast together with a couple of sightings of Little Gull and Common Scoter.

Gannet Mike Bamford 01On arrival at Calais, we had a short break before returning to the bridge for the home leg of our survey. At this time of year sunset is at 4pm so we would not be able to survey the whole of the return leg. As we left the breakwater in Calais Little Gull, Kittiwake, Common Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were seen. A mixed group of gull were recorded following a ferry into Calais, hoping for a meal to be churned up by the ship's propellers. The return trip was again dominated by Great Black-backed Gull and Gannet; some of the latter were seen diving for fish. Dusk approached rapidly and we left the bridge having had a very rewarding survey.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 07

 

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways, Captains Ludovic Thily and Fabrice Defrennes, their officers and crew for their hospitality which made this survey so enjoyable.

Photos:
Cormorant (Peter Howlett)
Gannet (Mike Bamford)
Great Black-backed Gull (Peter Howlett)

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (25 October 2015)

Posted 10 November 2015

Peter Jones and Joshua Stafford, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather:
Sea state 2 throughout with good visibility and glare at times

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 10

Seabirds:
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 19
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 69
Gannet Morus bassanus 54
Great Black-backed GullLarus marinus 26
Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 7
Gull sp. 3

 

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15

We met up mid morning at Dover and soon boarded the ferry to Calais. We were invited onto the bridge shortly after departing and started our survey in calm conditions.


We initially recorded several gulls close to the port, then our first Harbour Porpoise was seen surfacing several times barely 15 minutes into the survey. Shortly after this sighting, a member of the crew alerted us to another Harbour Porpoise very close to the ship. This time a very brief sighting.

 

Harbour Porpoise sightings continued throughout the outward journey with six animals seen in total, most of which were typically brief views.

 

Med Gull Rob Petley-Jones 02

We continued to pick up the commoner gull species, plus several Gannet, including a couple looking very smart in juvenile plumage. Guillemot and Kittiwake were also seen in small numbers. Highlights of the outward crossing were a tight group of six ghostly-white Mediterranean Gull and an Arctic Skua. Towards Calais, a flock of 19 Common Scoter, mostly males, passed close by.

 

After a quick turnaround in Calais we started the return leg. Harbour Porpoise sightings continued with another four animals recorded. Herring Gull dominated the return journey, with a small number of Guillemot, Kittiwake, Gannet and a single Mediterranean Gull.

 

Herring Hull Rob Petley-Jones 02We concluded our survey on arrival in Dover and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality.

 

Photos:
Harbour Porpoise (Peter Howlett)
Mediterranean Gull (Rob Petley-Jones)
Herring Gull (Rob Petley-Jones)

 

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Calais Seaways’ Calais-Dover (23 August 2015)

Posted 03 September 2015

Diederik D'hert and Jozefien Decoene, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather:
Light rain but good visibility on outward journey. Dry on return journey. Overcast which meant no glare on the sea surface.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus 13
Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea 1
Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 21
Common tern Sterna hirundo 71
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 22
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Herring gull Larus argentatus 8
Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus
Great black-backed gull Larus marinus 3
Great skua Stercorarius skua 1
Sandwich tern Sterna sanvicensis 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Swift Apus apus 4
Yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis 1

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 05

Shortly after arriving on the bridge and introducing ourselves to the captain and the crew the ferry left Calais for Dover. During the first half hour we spotted a variety of gulls including herring gulls and greater black-backed gulls.

 

Arctic Skua Mike Bamford 02aEven a couple of Red Admiral butterflies accompanied us when leaving port. A number of gannets crossed our path as we headed further into the Channel. Shortly before arriving we were very glad to see a small group of Arctic skua flying past.

 

On the return journey to Calais we counted gannets, some fulmars a couple of sandwich terns and one great skua. Even some common swifts were spotted during the trip.On arrival in Calais, numerous common terns and the occastional Arctic tern welcomed us back. After thanking the captain and the crew we left the bridge and drove back to Belgium.

Common Tern Peter Howlett 02

 

 

Photos:
Herring gull (Graham Ekins)
Arctic skua (Mike Bamford)
Common tern (Peter Howlett)

 

 

 

MARINElife blog: Dover to Calais (05 July 2015)

Posted 04 July 2015

This survey was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Calais Seaways’ Calais-Dover (21 June 2015)

Posted 26 June 2015

Diederik D'hert and Jozefien Decoene, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: North-westerly wind force 3 and a moderate sea state. Visibility was good.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:

Gannet Morus bassanus 38
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 29
Herring gull Larus argentatus 240
Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus 54
Great black-backed gull Larus marinus 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Mediterranean gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common tern Sterna hirundo 13

LBB Gull Graham Ekins 01

Around noon, we arrived in Calais, ready for check-in. Shortly after boarding the ship and having a chat with the crew, we headed to the bridge and started our survey in relatively calm and dry weather conditions.

Initially we picked up a few tern and a variety of gulls including Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake, then Gannet as we headed further into the Channel.

As we neared Dover, sea conditions improved, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for some cetacean sightings but, unfortunately, we did not see any during either crossing.

Sightings remained fairly constant throughout the survey, although we saw more Fulmar during the journey back to Calais. After thanking the captain and the crew on arrival in Calais, we headed back to Belgium.