Carol Farmer-Wright and Hazel Munt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife(Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Outbound: Dry and sunny, sea state 2-4. Return: Sunny but windier, sea state 4-5.
Summary of sightings:
Gannet Morus bassanus 10
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 30
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 16
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 18
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 6
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 38
Larus sp. 1
Skua sp. 1
Gull sp. 1
I met up with Hazel in Dover and drove to the port. We had our documentation processed and boarded the Dover Seaways. Once on board we went to the information desk and were taken to a deck area to begin our survey.
We left Dover with the sun beating down on us. We watched the gulls feeding in the harbour in the ships wake. With the breakwater behind us we started recording Herring Gull, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gannet, and Kittiwake. Once we had passed Calais, a solitary Skua was seen, unfortunately the glare, distance, and the fact that the bird was resting on the water could not lead to a positive identification. A few minutes later we saw our first Sandwich Tern. This species of tern likes sand dunes and quiet beaches to nest on. The coast between Calais and Dunkirk provides an ideal habitat for them to breed. As we neared Dunkirk, Common Tern became the more dominant bird species seen. A single Cormorant closed the outbound section of our survey as we entered Dunkirk harbour.
Black-headed Gulls in Dunkirk harbour (Carol Farmer-Wright)
In Dunkirk harbour, prior to the start of the return survey we observed many Black-headed Gull feeding in the ship's wake. The wind speed had now increased and observations became more difficult. We recorded, Common Tern, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, and Gannet before heading inside to compile our sightings.
Our thanks go to DFDS Seaways, the Captain, officers and crew of the Dover Seaways for making this survey possible.