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:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 34
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.
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)
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)