MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (30 July 2018)

Carol and Andy Farmer-Wright, Research surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Outbound sea state 4-2, dry with increasing cloud. Visibility good with occasional glare. Return sea state 3-4, dry with decreasing cloud. Visibility moderate to good with occasional glare

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 28
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 18
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Larus sp. Larus sp. 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 15

Initially it was planned to do this survey on Saturday, but the schools breaking up meant that we rescheduled for a day when a car space became available. This turned out to be in our favour as the heatwave that we had been experiencing broke with heavy rain which would not have been conducive to sightings. We rearranged for Monday when the majority of the rain had passed and visibility was much improved. We arrived at Dover in plenty of time to have a cup of coffee before boarding the ship.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 10

Fulmar (Peter Howlett)

Initially we recorded Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Gannet (including a bird born this year) and Fulmar. As we neared the French coast we encountered, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and a group of European Shag that flew along the coast as we neared Calais. A group of seven small sailing craft had to be negotiated prior to entering the harbour that were passed with consummate skill by the Captain and Officers on board.

We left the bridge as we entered Calais harbour to have some lunch on the ship before surveying on the return crossing to Dover.  As we waited to begin the return survey we had the opportunity to watch many Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull  congregate in the harbour to take advantage of food being churned up by the ships propellers.

Herring Gull Rob Petley-Jones 02

Herring Gull (Rob Petley-Jones)

On the return crossing we encountered may more Gannet than we had seen on the outbound crossing. Their ages varied from birds born this year to full breeding adults.

Sadly no cetaceans or seals were seen during this survey.

Our 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 arranging the booking at such short notice.

Carol and Andy Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyors from MARINElife