Dover-Dunkirk

Sightings Archives: June 2019

MARINElife Report: DFDS ‘Delft Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 24 June 2019

Posted 06 July 2019

Paul Radford and Mike Mackay, Research surveyors for MARINElife (registered charity no.: 1110884, reg. company no.: 5057367)

Weather: Sunny, wind E force 4, good visibility

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 66
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 16
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 54
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Gull sp. 27
Tern sp. 13

Terrestrial birds
Pigeon sp. 1
Swift Apus apus 8

A splendidly sunny, cloudless day as we settled onto the bridge wondering if it might be a little too optimistic to set out the Basking Shark and turtle recording forms. The crew still talked about the Humpback Whale from earlier in the year, so anything seemed possible. We started off with a solid selection of gulls, large groups of Gannet some solo Kittiwake and small groups of Cormorant. The strength of the light did mean having to admit defeat on identifying some birds with a number of gulls flying at us straight out of the sun.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 08a
Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Shortly after the start of the survey Paul spotted a Grey Seal as it surfaced to open the mammal scoring. A teasingly seal shaped strip of rubber floated by shortly afterwards but that remains a mystery.

Common and Sandwich Tern began to appear as we neared the French coast, singly and in small groups passing low across the water and circling the ship, with a new crop of Gannet and gulls and what I'm reliably informed was a drift of Swifts, to add to an earlier, possibly resident pigeon to make a showing for the terrestrial birds.

At the very start of the return journey a Harbour Porpoise rolled on the surface almost immediately recording had begun. This was complemented by a re-appearance of Sandwich, Common and a, regrettably unspecified, tern sp., Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet and Cormorant. Kittiwake were spotted and a pair of Guillemot swam off under the bow.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 06
Cormorant (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Nearing Dover the crew member Patrick Diggle pointed out two Harbour Porpoise which had crossed the bows and re-appeared aft. A few minutes later Paul spotted a solitary Harbour Porpoise at the opposite point.

A final surge of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull, Kittiwake and Cormorant surrounded the harbour mouth to conclude the survey.

Thanks as ever to DFDS, Captain Londesborough and the crew for making this possible.