MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (23 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.