Dover-Dunkirk

Sightings Archives: January 2017

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Dunkerque Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 28 January 2017

Posted 31 January 2017

Adrian Shephard and Thomas Fisher, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outbound: Sea state 3 with SE winds, cloudy. Return: Sea state 3-4 winds SE, cloudy.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 34

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver  Gavia stellata 7
Black-throated Diver  Gavia arctica 6
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 5
Diver Sp.  10
Gannet  Morus bassanus 105
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 61
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 10
Common Gull  Larus canus 10
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 23
Little Gull  Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 39
Gull Sp.  5
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 59
Razorbill Alca torda 14
Guillemot  Uria aalge 43
Auk Sp.  9

We drove down to Dover and after a coffee, headed aboard and up to the bridge to start the survey. We chatted with the captain who said there had been lots of Cormorant around and pointed out the breakwater which was literally covered in them in all directions - more than 500 was a conservative estimate and there yet more just outside the harbour flying to and fro.

Dover breakwater Adrian Shephard 2017-01
Cormorant on Dover breakwater (Adrian Shephard)

Seabirds kept us busy with Gannet, an assortment of Diver species which are winter visitors to the Channel and Great Black-backed Gull. It wasn't long before we started to observe Harbour Porpoise slowly surfacing as singles or duos. Kittiwake were also frequent sightings in the central portion of the crossing.

Harbour Porpoise Adrian Shephard 06
Harbour Porpoise (Adrian Shephard)

As we approached Dunkirk, we saw a couple of Great Skua resting on the sea and with the port in sight, numbers of Common Gull increased.

We took the opportunity to grab some soup and coffee during the turnaround, but it wasn't long before we were back to sea and spotting more birds. A nice group of 4 Great Skua briefly took flight as the ship approached and busy Razorbill and Guillemot flew rapidly back and forth.

As we headed for Dover, Dunkerque Seaways sister, Delft Seaways passed us on route to Dunkirk and shortly after another flurry of Harbour Porpoise sightings with a loose aggregation of 8 individuals seen.

All too soon the light faded and with Dover harbour in sight, we thanked Captain Russell and his team and headed back to the car.

Delft Seaways Adrian Shephard 01
Delft Seaways (Adrian Shephard)