Sightings Archives: June 2014

MARINElife blog: DFDS Dover Seaways Dover-Dunkirk 7 June 2014

Posted 02 July 2014

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

Out: Sea state 3, wind Southwest  Force 3
Return: Sea state 3, wind West-Southwest, Force 3-4

Summary of Sightings

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 31
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 33
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 5
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 85
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 40
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 13
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 7
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 46
Common Tern  Sterna hirundo 3
'Commic' Tern  Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 13

Terrestrial Birds:
Feral/Rock pigeon 1
Swift  Apus apus 2

This was a rather uneventful trip despite the intense activity in the English Channel the previous day - the 70th anniversary of D Day. The only evidence was a solitary Polish Naval Training ship 'Wodnik'.

Warship wodnik Michael Bamford
Polish warship 'Wodnik' (Photo: Mike Bamford)

The weather was kind with benign sea states which suggested we might be able to see a few Harbour Porpoises or other cetaceans.

After boarding with the other cars we were taken to the crew's mess  and from there to the bridge, which we joined, by kind permission of the captain, as we left harbour.

After a flurry of Herring Gull activity at the harbour mouth, and an early Grey Seal, sightings settled with sporadic pelagic species - Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar, and an increasing number of Lesser Black-backed Gull as we neared the French Coast.

Over the sandbanks parallel to the coast, we saw some energetic bird feeding activity, and increasing numbers of Sandwich Tern, some carrying food, as we neared Dunkirk. As we entered port the harbour walls carried a colony of Shag.

Apart from the gulls circling in the harbour, as we came 'off effort' we saw a pair of summer plumage Mediterranean Gull.

Med Gull Mike Bamford 02
Mediterranean Gull (Photo: Mike Bamford)

After the remarkably quick turnaround, the return journey gave a similar pattern of bird life. We were escorted back most of the way by a racing pigeon but alas with no marine mammal sightings - a rare blank, considering the conditions.

With thanks to Captain Jason Mills and his crew for their hospitality on the crossing.