Newhaven-Dieppe

Recent Sightings

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 18 March 2017

Posted 26 March 2017

Keith Morgan and Peter Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: wind 32-45 Knots, dry and overcast, visibility moderate.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 79
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 10
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 42
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 7
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 11
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 9
Guillemot  Uria aalge 21
Red-throated Diver  Gavia stellata 2
Gull sp. 5
Wader sp. 8
Auk sp. 8

We headed to the Seven Sisters bridge shortly before departing at 11:00. We started our survey once we'd left the shelter of the harbour and found windy conditions with a swell of 2-3 metres. We initially had some glare to contend with, although it was cloudy throughout our trip.

We left a group of mixed gulls in the harbour but soon picked up individuals including Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed, then Gannet, Guillemot and Great Skua as we headed further into the Channel.

Common Dolphin Carol Farmer Wright 03
Common Dolphin (Archive photo:Carol Farmer-Wright)

On the stroke of Noon, Peter picked up dorsal fins and we had an excellent view of three Common Dolphin bursting out of a wave, line abreast, on the starboard side of the ship.

We had a steady flow of birds throughout our passage to Dieppe where the harbour was strangely empty of birdlife.

We had a brief stroll into the outskirts of Dieppe centre then returned to the port. For the return journey, one of our fellow travellers had a cat in a travel basket.  As we went to board the bus back to the ship, the cat caught the attention of security dog and must have been alarmed to have just a piece of plastic netting between them!

GC Grebe Thomas Fisher 01
Great Crested Grebe (Archive photo: Thomas Fisher)

We left a group of Great Crested Grebe in the harbour.

Our return journey was cloudy with a strong wind and swell but we managed to survey for about an hour before the light grew too poor.  Peter's eagle eyes spotted a Harbour Porpoise soon after we left Dieppe and we again had a steady flow of birds.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 18 February 2017

Posted 27 February 2017

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

Weather: wind S force 4-3, dry and sunny, visibility moderate to good with variable glare.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver  Gavia stellata 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 108
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 2
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 4
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 4
Guillemot  Uria aalge 20
Razorbill  Alca torda 4
Diver sp. 6
Auk sp. 21
Larus sp. 2
Gull sp. 2

I met up with Tessa at Newhaven Port car park and we went through to reception, collected our tickets and boarded the Seven Sisters.  We went out onto the back deck to watch the birds whilst the ship was being manoeuvred out of port, and the ships thrusters disturbed the riverbed silt resulting in a number of Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull flocking to the water to grab morsels of food - Tessa spotted one Black-headed Gull that had caught a small fish!

BH Gull Rob Petley-Jones 01
Black-headed Gull (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Once out of the harbour we were escorted to the bridge to begin our survey. The weather was ideal with calm seas and a virtually cloud-free sky, although the sun was shining in through the windows resulting in many of the birds being cast in silhouette, which made ageing difficult.

We began recording Guillemot, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Red-throated Diver and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  As we moved further into the Channel Gannet and Kittiwake became the birds more frequently seen, with a couple of Great Skua looking to steal a meal from them.  As we travelled south the sea became smoother, to such an extent that we picked up distant splashes of Red-throated Diver running along the water to take flight.  Despite the excellent the sea conditions we did not see any cetaceans on this survey.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 13
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We concluded our survey on arrival in Dieppe and thanked Captain Conquet and his staff for their hospitality before heading into Dieppe to see the open market and to look for a baguette.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 17 December 2016

Posted 18 December 2016

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

Weather: Some fog but calm seas N 0-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise    Phocoena phocoena 17

Seabirds
Brent Goose   Branta bernicla 2
Black-throated Diver   Gavia arctica 5
Fulmar   Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet   Morus bassanus 578
Cormorant   Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Arctic Skua   Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Black-headed Gull   Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Herring Gull   Larus argentatus 91
Great Black-backed Gull   Larus marinus 134
Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla 26
Gull sp.   6
Guillemot   Uria aalge 40
Razorbill   Alca torda 1
Auk sp. 24

This was to be my second survey in a row on this route and as we drove down to Newhaven in thick fog, I wondered if we would see anything at all. After enjoying a coffee in the port, we boarded and were soon on the bridge. The fog had lifted slightly and the winds were very light meaning a very conducive sea state for observing marine wildlife.

Newhaven fog Adrian Shephard 01
Fog in Newhaven (Adrian Shephard)

The standard array of seabirds greeted us initially with Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet, Kittiwake and the occasional auk silhouette flying in the distance, but it wasn't long before the first of many Harbour Porpoise put in an appearance accompanied by a few interested Gannet. The sightings of Harbour Porpoise continued through the initial half of the survey then a further sighting close to Dieppe.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 17
Gannets over the Cote D'Albatre (Adrian Shephard)

Seabirds of note included a couple of Brent Geese flying high, an Arctic Skua and a number of Black-throated Diver, but Gannet were the most numerous throughout the crossing. There were a number of fishing vessels which were a draw for many gulls and Gannet and also attracted the attention of a Fulmar which was having to work hard in the virtually non-existent wind.

Even though it was December, the Guillemot were already heralding spring as many were in transition to their breeding plumage. As we neared Dieppe, it seemed like we were in the Gannet equivalent of Heathrow, with group after group of Gannet passing the ship directly overhead.

Guillemot Adrian Shephard 03
Guillemot moulting into breeding plumage (Adrian Shephard)

A big thank you as always to Captain Bidet and his crew on the Cote D'Albatre and the helpful DFDS port staff.

Thomas Fisher surveying Adrian Shephard 02
Thomas Fisher surveying (Adrian Shephard)

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways: ‘Cote D’Albatre Newhaven-Dieppe 12 November 2016

Posted 17 November 2016

Adrian Shephard and Hazel Munt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: wind SSE 5-7, significant rain

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 119
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 20
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 42
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 48
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 32
Guillemot Uria aalge 8
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Unidentified Auk sp.  4
Common Gull Larus canus  1
Unidentified Gull sp.  10
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 5

After a calm and clear Friday I was hoping for more of the same on Saturday for this survey to Dieppe, unfortunately, I was greeted by rain on opening the door for the drive down. This was to be Hazel's first survey and after chatting in the car and having a coffee in the terminal, we boarded Cote D'Albatre and had a late breakfast.

GBB Gull Adrian Shephard 05
Great Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

Soon after departing, we were invited to the bridge to commence the survey, being greeted by a significant number of waves, whitecaps and rain which plagued the majority of the crossing. We made the best of it and were soon recording Gannet soaring majestically in the distance interspersed with Great Black-backed Gull and the occasional auk.

A large dark bird drew our attention which was identified as a Great Skua, a powerful predatory seabird. We were soon recording good numbers of elegant Kittiwake effortlessly handling the brisk southerly winds.

A further Great Skua was seen taking off from the sea and as we approached Dieppe, we added a few additional species to the tally including Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe and Razorbill.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 08
Great Skua (Adrian Shephard)

The turnaround is quick on this crossing but we still had time for a walk into Dieppe to grab a delicious pastry or two. After re-boarding, we headed back to the bridge with the hope of a little daylight, but alas, we only had a mere 15 minutes before it was time to end the survey.

We thanked Captain Conquet and his crew for their support and headed down for a bite to eat and to enter the data for the crossing.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Côte d’Albâtre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 8 October 2016

Posted 16 October 2016

Peter Jones and Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Sea state 2-3; little swell; strong glare to starboard on outward survey

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 3

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 215
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 87
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 29
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 12
Razorbill Alca torda 8

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 15
Swallow Hirundo rustica 6

We were invited to the bridge and began surveying in sunny conditions with a fairly calm sea. Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were plentiful initially and a few Meadow Pipit were seen migrating south towards France.

Gannet were recorded quite frequently as we headed into the Channel, with the birds heading in the same direction.  Eventually we realised they were heading for a fishing boat which had a fairly high number of the birds following it. These was soon followed by a Sooty Shearwater which was a highlight of the crossing, seen well before it headed into the glare.  Two Great Skua rounded off the morning's sightings.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 02

Sooty Shearwater (Peter Howlett)

Afternoon sightings were again dominated by Gannet, with some plunge diving for food, while a small number of Swallow were seen migrating south.  As we approached Dieppe, numbers of gulls increased and Sandwich Tern was also recorded.

Dieppe ferry port had a Black Redstart and two Stonechat which were visible on the adjacent hillside, where a Kestrel was also seen.

The return crossing allowed for ninety minutes surveying before darkness.  A few Sandwich Tern passed close to the boat and a tight group of Razorbill were also seen.

BND Peter Howlett 20

Bottlenose Dolphin (Peter Howlett)

However, it was right at the end of the survey when the highlight of the day occurred.  A big splash caught the attention of us both and a dorsal fin was seen disappearing into the water.  Seconds later, two Bottlenose Dolphin breached the surface and a third was seen close by, all heading towards the bow.  Excellent views were had of all three animals as they breached one final time before passing by the bridge, clearly visible just below the surface.  A super end to an enjoyable day.

As darkness descended we concluded the survey and thanked the Captain and ship's crew for their hospitality throughout the day.

Peter Jones and Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Côte d’Albâtre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 11 June 2016

Posted 21 June 2016

Peter Jones, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Sea state 1-2 throughout the survey, visibility hampered by hazy conditions for most of the day.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 10
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 63
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 277
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Guillemot Uria aalge 8
Shearwater sp. 1
Tern sp. 1

The ship departed from Newhaven at 9am, and I was invited onto the bridge for the survey with a very calm looking sea ahead. A slight haze was to hamper visibility slightly, but it was not long before birds were recorded with several Herring Gull on the water. Two small groups of Guillemot were seen before Kittiwake, Fulmar, and the first Gannet of the survey were recorded.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 11
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A group of three Harbour Porpoise, including one young animal, were seen quite clearly, albeit distantly, as they surfaced frequently. Twenty minutes later, another group of three were seen, these much closer and again showing quite well.

Gannet started to become more numerous towards the mid channel, and a good spell of birds included a Manx Shearwater, three Great Skua, and a Storm Petrel. It was whilst tracking the Storm Petrel away from the ship's starboard side, that I very fortunately saw another Harbour Porpoise, this one only surfacing once. Two further Harbour Porpoise were seen on the outward leg, and the approach to Dieppe was dominated by Herring Gull.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 01
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

In Dieppe, I took a walk along the road between the port and the town. Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were heard singing in the nearby bushes, and a White Wagtail was sighted.

The return to Newhaven was in even calmer sea conditions and two additional Harbour Porpoise were spotted. Again Herring Gull dominated the sightings with a large number following a fishing boat. Great Skua, Fulmar and Kittiwake were again recorded and close views of two Guillemot on the sea were the final sightings before concluding the survey.

On arrival in Newhaven, I thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading home.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 01
Herring Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d’Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 14 May 2016

Posted 24 May 2016

Fraser Paterson and Tibor Beetles, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather
Outbound: Wind E-NNE, sea state 1-4, high cloud, visibility hazy, improving.
Return: NE breeze dropping light NW, sea state 3-1, sunny and clear.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Unidentified dolphin sp. 1
Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 26
Gannet Morus bassanus 93
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 22
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 3
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Auk sp. 6
Gull sp. 33
Tern sp. 1
Terrestrial Birds
Common Swift Apus apus 1

We were welcomed aboard the Côte d'Albâtre by the crew, who were much charmed by Fraser's command of French no doubt, and who kindly escorted us to the bridge.

The weather was cloudy and a little hazy with a light NE breeze and with a calm sea we were hopeful of Harbour Porpoise as we left Newhaven. A few Herring Gull, Razorbill and Guillemot were sighted shortly after departure, along with a single errant Swift. Within half an hour, we spotted our single Harbour Porpoise of the day, the distinctive rolling slow swim and small triangular dorsal clearly visible even several hundred metres away thanks to the calm sea.

Pomarine Skua Graham Ekins 01a
Pomarine Skua (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

Lesser Black-backed Gull, including a couple of juveniles, Gannet and Kittiwake were spotted consistently across the Channel. A slight swell and rougher sea developed as we neared the French coast with a few Fulmar gliding effortlessly over the waves and 25 gulls rafting in the wake of a small fishing vessel. Upon nearing Dieppe we were treated to the sight of two stocky juvenile Pomarine Skua in quick succession, perhaps lagging behind the adults on their migration north.

With a couple of hours to wait before our return crossing, we walked into the pleasant harbour town of Dieppe, enjoyed a wander around town in the sunshine before returning to the ferry terminal.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 02
Fulmar (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

After another friendly greeting aboard, we set up for the return crossing enjoying calm seas and a light NNE breeze although with quite a strong port-ahead glare, making cetacean spotting tricky. Gannet were more prevalent this time, although Guillemot, Kittiwake and Fulmar were all recorded along with another juvenile Pomarine Skua, with many of the birds resting on the water.

Our second cetacean sighting was made by Fraser. A splash around 750m away alerted him to a probable dolphin species associating with Gannet and Kittiwake. Unfortunately the animal could not be identified.

The crossing continued with consistent Gannet, Kittiwake and gull sightings and a good number of Fulmar gliding on the NNW breeze as we neared the familiar white cliffs of the Sussex coast. With fading light and a pretty sunset, we ended the survey within sight of the home port and thanked Captain Delarue and his crew for another much appreciated opportunity to survey aboard an enjoyable and productive DFDS Seaways route.

Channel sunset Tibor Beetles 01
Channel sunset (Tibor Beetles)

MARINElife Watch 4 Wildlife Trip: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 24 April 2016

Posted 30 April 2016

Adrian Shephard and Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyors & Guides for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Wind NW, sea state 2-5, bright conditions

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 6
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Gannet Morus bassanus 153
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 11
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 7
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Black Tern Chlidonias niger 5
Unidentified auk sp. 7
Unidentified gull sp. 2
Unidentified skua sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 87
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 4
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1
Turnstone Arenaria interpres 1
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima 1

As I drove down to Newhaven passing through bouts of sleet, I was a little concerned about the conditions for our Watch 4 Wildlife trip to Dieppe, but on reaching the port, the conditions had improved.

I met up with Carol and began welcoming our guests for the trip and before long, we were on board the Seven Sisters and headed out on to the decks just as we departed. As we passed the harbour wall, our keen observers spotted a Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper amongst the rocks and before long, we picked up a small group of Whimbrel then some Bar-tailed Godwit arriving in the UK.

Newhaven-Dieppe Wildlife watch Adrian Shephard
The Watch 4 Wildlife group on the 'Seven Sisters' (Adrian Shephard)

Initial seabirds included a few Razorbill, Herring Gull and then we started observing Gannet, including one which unfortunately had some fishing line attached to it. A couple of Great Skua and an Arctic Skua added to our species list as well as the glider-like action of a number of Fulmar.

An hour into the trip, we sighting our first marine mammal, a Grey Seal passing very close to the port side affording good views. Around 10 minutes later, the first of six Harbour Porpoise were seen, as usual being fairly elusive especially amongst the white caps.

Bar-tailed Godwit Adrian Shephard 01
Migrating Bar-tailed Godwit crossing the Channel (Adrian Shephard)

We then saw an example of what happens when helium balloons are released, then end up at sea causing hazards to marine wildlife.

A Swallow headed over the deck on its way back to the UK and with the coast of France in sight, a couple of Black Tern were a very welcome sight as well as a few Little Gull.

We docked and headed ashore for a couple of hours in the beautiful town of Dieppe where I was able to obtain my favourite pastry, a tarte aux citron - delicious.

We were soon back out on deck, but despite the lovely sunny conditions, this time heading into the winds from the high arctic which required several layers of clothing.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 07
Great Skua (Adrian Shephard)

Many of us remained on watch for the remainder of the day with further sightings of Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Skua and Little Gull. However, with darkness and Newhaven approaching, we headed down from deck to prepare for our arrival after a great day at sea.

A big thank you to all our passengers for supporting the work of MARINElife and helping make our crossing a fun-packed day.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 9 April 2016

Posted 17 April 2016

Adrian Shephard and Tony Chenery, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: wind SW/W, sea state 3-5, heavy rain at times limiting visibility.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Seabirds
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 36
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 25
Gannet Morus bassanus 429
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 31
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Razorbill Alca torda 5
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 8
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Unidentified auk sp. 16
Unidentified gull sp. 4
Unidentified shearwater sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Feral Pigeon 1

I met Tony in the DFDS Seaways terminal for a coffee before boarding the Seven Sisters. As this was Tony's first survey for MARINElife, we discussed how the trip would work. We also provided the lady in the coffee shop with some identification charts as she often speaks with the passengers, especially the excited children, about what they might see during the crossing.

We headed aboard and enjoyed a coffee and croissant before heading to the bridge to commence our preparations. After passing the harbour wall, we started recording seabirds with Common and Great Black-backed Gull making an early appearance. We then spotted two groups of Brent Geese heading east on their long journey to their breeding grounds.

Brent Goose Adrian Shephard 02
Brent Geese (Adrian Shephard)

Seabirds remained fairly constant with numbers of Gannet increasing as we headed into the central part of the Channel. Almost all of them were adults in their breeding plumage heading west, perhaps towards the breeding colonies around the Channel Islands or north-west France.

Rain stopped play for around an hour prior to arrival in France with limited visibility. In Dieppe we went for a walk into town enjoying some patisserie and coffee before re-boarding.

This time of year is great because of the lengthening days; meaning we could survey a good amount of the return journey. We headed back to the bridge with the sun shining and a strong rainbow showing.

As we headed out of Dieppe, Tony spotted a Harbour Porpoise, quickly followed by another just ahead of the ship with a further one being added a little later in the survey.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 11
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

We continued to record good numbers of seabirds, with a number of Fulmar coasting over the sea's surface and Great Skua powering through the air. Soon after the sun set, we bid farewell to the bridge team and headed down to enjoy a delicious meal.

Thank you to DFDS Seaways, Captain Bidet and the crew of the Seven Sisters for their support and interest in our work and I look forward to the next time I can enjoy a crossing to Dieppe.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 12 March 2016

Posted 24 March 2016

Bob Graves and Hazel Pittwood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Winds SE/ESE outward, NE on return. Sea state 3 for a majority of the survey. Fog and cloud cover present throughout, limiting visibility for much of the survey.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 74
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 51
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 87
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 12
Guillemot Uria aalge 31
Gull sp. 19
Shearwater sp. 3 (1 on survey, 2 as casual records)

Terrestrial Birds
Skylark Alauda arvensis 1

Shortly after the ship's departure from port we were escorted up to the bridge by a very friendly DFDS staff member from the passenger help desk. We introduced ourselves to the Captain and his team before quietly setting up for the survey.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 05
Guillemot (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The calm sea state was in our favour, but visibilty was impacted by varying degrees of fog, cloud cover and glare throughout the survey. Two Guillemot in winter plumage were seen resting upon the water before diving under as the ship got nearer and there began our sightings.

Bob identified a notable sighting of a migrant Skylark; a species that is in severe decline. A variety of bird sightings followed throughout the survey, including more Guillemot, lots of Gannet of various ages and plumage, Lesser Black-backed Gull (including a flock of 60), Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull and a second calendar year Yellow-legged Gull, along with singles of an unidentified shearwater, Fulmar and Cormorant. I caught sight of two shearwater out of the window whilst I was eating my lunch, but unfortunately I wasn't able to ID which species they were. Shortly before docking in Dieppe we saw five Common Scoter.

cormorant Adrian Shephard 03a
Cormorant (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

On the return leg of our journey we were limited to an hour of surveying, which produced sightings limited to gull species. As the daylight began to fade, so did our hopes of a cetacean sighting; Harbour porpoise had been sighted on this route on the previous survey but on this day it wasn't to be.

We thanked the Captain and left the bridge. With a few hours of darkness aboard the ship before we docked back in Newhaven, we ate dinner, talked about our sightings and discussed other wildlife topics of interest, testament to the fact that meeting likeminded people is an immensely enjoyable aspect of surveying.

Our grateful thanks to DFDS Seaways, Captain Conquet and the crew of the Cote D'Albatre for their helpful assistance and support throughout this survey.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 13 February 2016

Posted 20 February 2016

David Doxford and Jo Collins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Brisk winds (force 5/6 with force 7 gusts), sea state 4-5 but improving through the day; visibility was generally good except for light rain on departure from Newhaven.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 46
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 27
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Guillemot Uria aalge 62
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp. 1
Larus sp. 5
Shearwater sp. 1

We met up at Newhaven ferry terminal and were quickly booked in by the friendly DFDS Transmanche Ferries staff and transported to the Côte D'Albatre. On completing the initial manoeuvres out of Newhaven Harbour we were escorted to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Bidet before settling down to begin our survey.

Ganet Jo Collins 01
Gannet (Jo Collins)

The survey proved 'auk rich' with numerous Guillemot and one Razorbill; over a third of our bird sightings were auks. Great Skua, a major feature of previous trips on this route, were totally absent. Jo saw one shearwater in the distance but it was not possible to make out the species. There was the usual parade of Gannet, including some actively fishing.

Around mid-trip Jo spotted our single cetacean of the trip; a lone Harbour Porpoise which behaved as they usually do and rapidly excused itself. It was unusual to see one in mid-Channel as they normally stay close to the coast.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01a
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Approaching Dieppe we spotted the usual gulls, Herring, Great Black-backed and Black-headed, escorting the ship into port. David also noticed a couple of Harbour Seal hauled out on the beach just to the east of Dieppe harbour.

As we arrived in Dieppe close to dusk we did not venture ashore. Instead we dug out the laptop and entered our survey data. The return trip was spent relaxing.

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways/Transmanche Ferries for enabling us to survey on this route. Special thanks to Captain Bidet, his officers and crew of the Cote D'Albatre for their hospitality.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre' Newhaven-Dieppe 30 January 2016

Posted 12 February 2016

David Doxford and Caroline Race, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Good, wind north-northwesterly force 5, sea state moderate, visibility good.

Summary of sightings
Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 11

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 105
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 8
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 23
Guillemot Uria aalge 38
Razorbill Alca torda 9
Juvenile gulls Larus sp. 15

We were swiftly escorted aboard by the friendly DFDS staff, left on schedule and were immediately welcomed to the bridge by the Captain to start our survey.

Surveying David Doxford 2016-01
Caroline Race surveying (David Doxford)

We started to record birds straightaway and it proved to be a very busy trip with a total of 222 birds recorded in total.

As we headed towards Dieppe, we saw numerous Gannet, Kittiwake, juvenile gulls and Great Black-backed Gull along with Guillemot, Razorbill, Great Skua and the occasional Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. Interestingly almost all the Gannets were flying west and no juveniles were seen.

Midway through the trip, as I was recording effort data, Caroline gave an excited yelp.  I looked up to see two Bottlenose Dolphin (an adult and calf) off the bow.  They were soon joined by others to give 11 in total!  They briefly attempted to bow-ride but the ship was too fast for them and they soon disappeared in our wake.  It was good to see such a big group and heartening that they had two calves amongst their number.

BND Graham Ekins 01a
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

Due to the season we could only survey on the outward leg so we spent the return trip entering data and typing up our notes.

On arrival back in Newhaven we thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 12 December 2015

Posted 16 December 2015

Adrian Shephard and Cathy Robinson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather Southwesterly winds force 3-6-2.

Summary of Species Recorded

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 1601
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 19
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 165
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 51
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 298
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Razorbill Alca torda 5
Unidentified Auk Sp. 7
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Unidentified Diver Sp. 4

We arrived at Newhaven and had time to talk about the forthcoming survey in the café before boarding Seven Sisters for the trip to Dieppe. Weather was forecast to be up to a 6 coming from the Southwest and the prediction proved correct, meaning challenging conditions for cetacean spotting. We headed to reception and after departure, headed to the bridge to start the survey.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 05
Great Skua (Adrian Shephard)

We started to record a fairly constant stream of birds, initially Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake soon followed by Gannet and the first of a good number of Great Skua.

As we continued to watch ahead, a couple of fishing vessels drew our eyes and despite being a little distant, proved to be swarming with seabirds. Literally thousands of Gannet and Gulls could be seen whirling around them and a number of other species seen closer to the ship including more Great Skua and Common Gull.

Trawler Adrian Shephard 01
Gulls and Gannets feeding around a trawler (Adrian Shephard)

As we progressed further the first of two Storm Petrel were seen darting amongst the waves and, as we neared the French coast, a few additional species were recorded including a Little Gull, Red-throated Diver and a Yellow-legged Gull which kindly displayed its legs as it passed in front of the bridge.

As we approached the harbour we took our last effort reading and, a couple of moments later, watched a couple of Common Scoter pass in front of the Harbour. After the vessel was skilfully moored, we said our goodbyes and left the bridge.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 08
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

We headed into Dieppe for a quick cake and coffee and walk around in the sunny and warm December afternoon before heading back to the ship. Darkness prevented us from surveying more, so we enjoyed some dinner and started our data entry.

A big thank you to Captain Fontenit and his crew for their warm welcome and continued support of MARINElife surveys on this route.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Transmanche Ferries ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 14 November 2015

Posted 14 November 2015

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Transmanche Ferries ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 15 October 2015

Posted 15 October 2015

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Transmanche Ferries ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 12 September 2015

Posted 16 September 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright and David Doxford, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather
Outward - Brisk winds, sea state 5-3, increasing cloud.
Return - Brisk winds, sea state 3, sunny.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 102
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Gull sp. 5

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 31

On completing the initial manoeuvres out of Newhaven Harbour we were escorted to the bridge, welcomed by Captain Quenoil and settled down to begin our survey. The survey began with sporadic sightings of adult Gannet with a single sighting of Fulmar. September is migration time for passerines and as we travelled south we encountered small groups of Swallow flying low over the water. A single Great Skua appeared as we neared Dieppe before we stopped the southbound transect.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 10
Fulmar (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

At Dieppe we walked into the town as David was interested in finding the Rue d'Ecosse which was as far as his uncle managed to reach in an invasion operation during the Second World War prior to the D-day landings. Having located the street we then headed to a café for some refreshment prior to visiting the outdoor market and returning to the ship.

Leaving Dieppe we entered an area where shallow gravel and sand bars can be seen to the north which can be a good area for feeding marine mammals and birds. The tide had dropped whilst we were in port and Gannet together with Sandwich Tern were seen feeding. David spotted a single Harbour Porpoise moving swiftly away from the ship.

Harbour Porpoise Graham Ekins 03
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

As we moved into the English Channel sightings slowed. We mainly saw Gannet, the majority of which were adult with a couple of birds under 2 years of age. Four Great Skua were also recorded before the setting sun called a halt to our survey efforts.

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways/Transmanche Ferries for enabling us to survey on this route. Special thanks to Captain Quenoil, his officers and the crew of the Seven Sisters for their hospitality.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways Cote d'Albatre Newhaven-Dieppe 8 August 2015

Posted 12 August 2015

Keith Morgan and Fraser Paterson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus 10

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 3
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 9
Gannet Morus bassanus 135
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 59
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 38
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 22
Gull sp. 139
Commic Tern 1
Skua sp. 1

We had a friendly welcome on board the Cote d'Albatre and a fine bright calm day for our crossings.

There were a good variety of seabirds, with Gannet and Herring Gull the most numerous and Yellow- legged Gull, Fulmer and Kittiwake coming up close. The largest single group was 50+ gulls and Gannet whose interest was caught by events around a sport fishing boat off to starboard as we headed to France. Among the less common species, Sooty Shearwater and a Pomarine Skua were good to see.

Rissos Dolphin Peter Howlett 03
Risso's Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

In Dieppe, the beach was an attraction for many human visitors although the birds favoured the harbour wall - or the mooring rope of the Cote d'Albatre once we tied up!  A craft and produce fair was setting up alongside the port and was sure to be enjoyed by the crowds of people enjoying the warm sunshine.

There were 3 separate sightings of Harbour Porpoise on our outward leg and two groups of Risso's Dolphin leaping and splashing along on our return.

We would like to thank the Captain and the crew for their continued generous support and hospitality.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 11 July 2015

Posted 17 July 2015

Steven McAusland and Steve Morgan; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Dry, sunny and minimal cloud cover, good visibility, sea state 2 inc. 4-5.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 8

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 141
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 22
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 12
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 33
Guillemot Uria aalge 10

After a few cups of tea at the ferry terminal, we were escorted to the ferry where we were quickly allocated our cabin whereupon we started to prepare for the survey.

Harbour Porpoise Graham Ekins 03
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

Arriving on the bridge, the crew welcomed us and soon began telling us of recent dolphin sightings on their passages during the week. To hear stories from seasoned seafarers about their passionate recollections of these encounters was brilliant.

Leaving the port of Newhaven the ship was soon under way heading towards the French coast. As with all MARINElife surveys we were given a prime spot on the starboard side of the bridge to conduct the survey. Not very long into the journey, we had sightings of Harbour Porpoise; a fabulous start to the survey. In total we saw eight of these marine mammals.

In terms of bird species, the survey was disappointing. However, July is very much the month that is renowned as the quietest on the bird sightings front, so we enjoyed the reasonably calm waters and the generous hospitality of DFDS as we recorded those birds that we did spot.

Gannet Steve McAusland 05
Gannet (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

We extended our thanks to the Captain and crew for their continued support for MARINElife and we both look forward to surveying this route again.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 13 June 2015

Posted 22 June 2015

Fraser Paterson and Karrie Langdon; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Outward - dry for most of the journey, with slowly decreasing cloud cover, generally good visibility, westerly winds, sea state 2-3, swell height 1.
Return - dry, sunny periods, visibility excellent though significant glare moving from ahead port to dead ahead, westerly winds, sea state 1-2, swell height 1.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 107
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Gull sp. 10

Terrestrial Birds
Domestic Pigeon 5

Having received a warm welcome on board the Cote d'Albatre and installed ourselves on the bridge, we set sail expectantly from Newhaven in dry, but windy conditions with overcast skies and fairly good visibility, leaving around 100 Herring Gull wheeling behind the ship. On the way to Dieppe we encountered reasonable numbers of non-breeding, mainly adult Gannet and Kittiwake.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 04
Herrng Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

A highlight of this leg of the survey was a brief sighting of a petrel species that we picked up flying low as we tracked a Gannet. As we approached Dieppe, a pair of Yellow-legged Gull flew in front of the ship, showing their distinctive 'undercarriage' that differentiated them from the more common Herring Gull that flew out to meet us. A few Cormorant, a Shag and a Fulmar also crossed our path, while a Great Skua lifted off the water on the port side. There was no visible cetacean activity and a distinct lack of any auks or terns on the trip, although a few racing or homing pigeon overtook us on their way to France.

In Dieppe, we disembarked for a few hours, walking towards the town where we enjoyed "une pression et un orange pressée" in one of the cafes. A few Black Redstart were spotted around the port area as we waited to board for our return leg to Newhaven.

Great Skua Rick Morris 01a
Great Skua (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

With the sun shining and conditions calm, we were accompanied by a few Herring Gull for a short while and the odd Cormorant. Our return leg was characterised by long periods of little seabird activity (breeding birds would naturally be at nesting sites at this time of year) but with steady sightings of Gannet and Kittiwake.  The highlight of the return leg was a group of six Fulmar that were sitting on the ocean.

We would like to thank the Captains, the officers and crew of the Cote D'Albatre for their continued generous hospitality and support.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 16 May 2015

Posted 19 May 2015

Julia Benson and Karrie Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather - dry, sunny and varying cloud cover, good visibility, sea state 4-5.

Summary of species recorded

Marine Mammals
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Unidentified dolphin sp. 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 39
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Unidentified gull sp. 3

Terrestrial birds
Swift Apus apus 2

We arrived at the Newhaven ferry terminal on a misty morning but, luckily, the mist had cleared by the time we boarded the ship and were leaving the harbour. The sun was shining and much of the cloud had cleared.

Shortly after leaving the harbour we were escorted to the bridge and began surveying. The sea state was not ideal for spotting cetaceans, however, within the first 15 minutes of surveying, the back and dorsal fin of a dolphin was seen breaking the surface of the water just ahead of the ship on the starboard side. Unfortunately, we did not see it surface again so were unable to identify the species.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 07
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As for seabirds, Gannet was the most sighted bird of the day. We regularly saw them throughout both crossings, though not in great numbers. We also saw Fulmar, Kittiwake, Herring Gull and a couple of Swift. As we approached Dieppe harbour, we saw two Shag flying low to the water.

Whilst we waited for the return crossing we headed into the small town of Dieppe. Here we wandered around the street market before finding a nice bar by the harbour where we enjoyed a coffee on what was a gorgeous sunny afternoon.

Shortly after leaving the harbour on our return journey we were back on the bridge surveying. Again, we saw Gannet and Herring Gull and a couple of Fulmar. We stayed on the bridge until the sun dipped below the horizon and there was not enough light to continue with the survey.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 02
Fulmar (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Many thanks to DFDS, Captain Fontint, his officers and crew for making us feel so welcome and allowing us on board to conduct our survey work.

MARINElife Survey report Newhaven-Dieppe 18 April 2015

Posted 19 April 2015

This survey had to be cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways 'Seven Sisters' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 March 2015

Posted 19 March 2015

Peter Jones and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Initially sea state 3, with good visibility. The sea state later increased to 5 with significant swell.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 11
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 9
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 20
Gannet Morus bassanus 72
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 11
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Gull sp. 100

Terrestrial birds
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 1

After meeting in the Newhaven ferry terminal café, we made our way onto the Seven Sisters and were invited onto the bridge for the survey. As we departed Newhaven we enjoyed sightings of Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 01
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Further into the Channel, we saw a single Red-throated Diver plus two summer-plumaged Kittiwake, and a Guillemot. A flock of 16 Fulmar was an impressive sight, and a small number of Gannet were recorded.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Skua and Razorbill added to the variety of seabirds and, during the second half of the crossing, more Red-throated Diver were seen heading East.

With the French coast just visible, we saw a large flock of gulls circling, but were unable to locate any activity on the surface. We did, however, see a small wader fly past the ship, (which looked like a Jack Snipe). A Great Northern Diver was disturbed off the sea very close to the ship, proving an initial identification challenge as we looked down on it from directly above. Fortunately, better views were obtained before it dived.

GN Diver Peter Howlett 01
Great Northern Diver (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return journey had just enough daylight to see a Great-crested Grebe in Dieppe harbour, juvenile Kittiwake and a flock of 11 Common Scoter.

We thanked the ship's crew for their hospitality throughout the day and arrived back at Newhaven after a very enjoyable survey.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways 'Seven Sisters' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 February 2015

Posted 24 February 2015

Peter Jones, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Initially sea state 2, with good visibility and occasional showers. The sea state later dropped to 1.

Summary of species recorded

Seabirds
Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 3
Eider Somateria mollissima 2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 14
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 348
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 8
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 312
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 39
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Unidentified Diver Sp. 3

After enjoying a breakfast in the Newhaven ferry terminal café, I made my way onto the Seven Sisters ship, and was invited onto the bridge for the survey. As we departed Newhaven the sea looked reasonably calm, and I enjoyed an initial flurry of gulls including Black-headed, Common, Great Black-backed and Herring.

Gannet Peter Howlett 08
Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Shortly afterwards a few small groups of Red-Throated Diver were recorded, plus two other divers that, although definitely not Red-throated, were too distant to identify. A Great Skua passed close to the ship and rafts of Guillemot were seen on the water.

I then observed the nice spectacle of a fishing boat being followed by hundreds of gulls and Gannet. The trail of birds behind the vessel stretched for at least a mile. This happened again with a second fishing vessel, though with fewer birds.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 04
Razorbill (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

For the final hour of the crossing the sea state became even calmer, and it was a surprise that no cetaceans were recorded in such perfect conditions. Gannet dominated the sightings with a pair of Razorbill seen on the water until finally, with the French coast in sight, two Eider and three Common Scoter were seen.

For the return journey, there was time for just under an hour of surveying. This was dominated by Herring Gull and Gannet.

I thanked the ship's crew for their hospitality throughout the day, and arrived back at Newhaven after a very enjoyable survey.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways Cote D’Albatre Newhaven-Dieppe 17 January 2015

Posted 29 January 2015

Andrew Gilbert and Melissa Goulton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather
Good visibility. Wind: SSW. Sea state: 3-4.

Summary of sightings:
Seabirds

Gannet  Morus bassanus 58
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 9
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 16
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla
Guillemot  Uria aalge 17
Razorbill  Alca torda 10
Unidentified auk sp.  18
Unidentified gull sp.  91

Terrestrial Birds
Unidentified goose sp.  3

We met in the ferry terminal and were soon on board the Cote D'Albatre and unpacking our day bags in the cabin provided. Reception spoke to Captain Conquet for us and he kindly welcomed us on the bridge before the ship sailed. This allowed us to be ready to start as soon as the ship left Newhaven and we made the most of the limited daylight hours which, in the winter months, prevent us from surveying on the return leg of this trip.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 02
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we left the harbour we were pleased to find a moderate sea state of 3-4, relatively clear skies, and a SSW wind. The four hour crossing passed quickly with Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls dominating the coastal waters.  When we moved further into the Channel we spotted good numbers of Gannet, some of which were feeding. An occasional Kittiwake added variety and a few travelling groups of Guillemot and Razorbill crossed our path.

As we neared the French coast three geese flew south but they were too far away to identify. When the ferry arrived off Dieppe a barrage of gulls flew out to meet us. They came at great speed, in large numbers and passed through the survey area before we were able to identify them. There were 91 in total and they flocked to the stern of the ship hoping to feed in the churned up wake.  Looking back we could see Great Black-backed, Black-headed, Common, and Herring Gull.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 02
Razorbill (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We enjoyed a good survey, a great complimentary lunch on board and the Captain and his crew made us exceptionally welcome. Many thanks to DFDS and the crew for their support of this route.

MARINElife Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 13 December 2014

Posted 21 December 2014

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

Weather: NW2-3, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 6
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 38
Gannet Morus bassanus 3022
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 32
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 118
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 39
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Razorbill Alca torda 8
Unidentified Auk Sp. 5
Unidentified Diver Sp. 7

We arrived at Newhaven and, after a coffee and some breakfast in the terminal café, we were welcomed aboard by the DFDS reception staff. We had enough time for another coffee before heading up to the bridge to meet Captain Quenoil and his crew.

The relatively high winds over the last few days had subsided and a sea state of 2 greeted us and stayed with us for most of the crossing. Our first few seabirds were divers, but as they were at some distance it was difficult to identify the species. A couple of closer birds were clearly Red-throated Diver. The occasional Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwake made us feel that from a seabird perspective, it was going to be a quiet trip - how wrong we were!

Gannet Thomas Fisher 01
Gannet (Photo: Thomas Fisher)

Thomas spotted the first cetaceans, a small group of Harbour Porpoise including a young calf which surfaced ahead of the vessel, these were the first of 11 which were recorded during the crossing in ones and twos.

Our first Gannet sightings were around an hour out of Newhaven with numbers increasing as we passed a small fishing vessel. Then my jaw dropped! Ahead of the ship, as far as the eye could see, were small white dots on the sea surface: thousands of Gannet resting on the water. Our conservative estimate is of around 2,500. But it wasn't only Gannet, amongst them were large black birds powering through the air as they took off . We counted 32 Great Skua in total plus an assortment of Fulmar, Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake. Keeping pace with the recording was a struggle.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 03
Great Skua (Photo: Adrian Shephard)

Many of the Gannet passed close to the ship; taking flight as we approached them. There were so many further off that our total of 3022 was conservative. I am guessing many of the North Sea birds had moved into the Channel and the Great Skua had followed!

As we neared Dieppe, more divers were seen, this time including a couple of Black-throated Diver making an attempt to move out of the way of the ship as it approached.

BT Diver Adrian Shephard 01
Black-throated Diver (Photo: Adrian Shephard)

We finished our survey as we neared the harbour in Dieppe. We got off in Dieppe to feel the cold northern wind, making us extremely grateful for the warmth of the bridge for these winter surveys and went to a café before heading back aboard to start entering our sightings.

A big thank you to Captain Quenoil and his crew for a very productive survey and their continued support of MARINElife surveys on this route.

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 15 November 2014

Posted 18 November 2014

Peter Jones and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: sea state 2 with good visibility throughout. Strong glare ahead of the ship initially, later moving to the starboard side.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 195
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 32
Common Guillemot Uria aalge 9
Unidentified Auk Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 18

We arrived at Newhaven ferry terminal and went to the port café for an early morning coffee and muffin. By the time 10am rolled around we were both looking forward to enjoying an excellent day out aboard the Côte d'Albâtre to Dieppe.

Pomarine Skua Mike Bailey 01
Pomarine Skua (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

As this survey would take place on the outward journey only we were keen to begin and we were escorted to the bridge shortly after our departure from Newhaven. The sea was fairly calm and we got underway with a small number of Guillemot on the water, followed by a tight flock of migrating Goldfinch. As we headed further into the Channel Gannet dominated the sightings before we saw the breathtaking sight of a Great Skua and a Great Black-backed Gull fighting close to the ship. Two Fulmar briefly made an appearance together with more Great Skua before another skirmish took place. This time a juvenile Pomarine Skua harassing two Kittiwake.

Gannet sightings then continued to dominate, including two groups circling and plunge diving, unfortnately we didn't see any cetaceans below the circling birds. Another Pomarine Skua was seen, this one flying more leisurely than the earlier bird.

The survey concluded with the impressive sight of Little Gulls migrating west along the French coast, about a mile from land. We counted 32 in total as we passed their flight path, but we suspect many more birds would have been migrating through.

Peer Jones Newhaven-Dieppe Elaine Brown 01
Surveying on the Côte d'Albâtre (Elaine Brown)

Once in Dieppe, we explored the town where there was an open market and a fair, as well as fresh fish being cooked over a barbeque. Bird-wise, Dieppe was fairly quiet except for a brief view of a Black Redstart and a Little Egret overhead.

On arrival back at Newhaven we thanked the Captain and crew for their hospitality throughout the day.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 18 October 2014

Posted 21 October 2014

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

Weather
Strong winds.  Sea state 5.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 1017
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 70
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 553
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Unidentified Auk Sp. 3

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 48 (at sea)

We arrived at Newhaven with enough time before departure to enjoy a coffee and some breakfast in the café at Newhaven terminal. We were welcomed aboard by the DFDS reception staff and taken straight up to the bridge to watch the ship leave the berth and head out into the Channel.

GBB Gull Adrian Shephard 03
Great Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

The forecast had been right, relatively strong winds from the south meant the sea state was 5 for much of the outbound crossing and coupled with strong glare ahead we struggled to pick out cetaceans and seabirds on the sea, but we kept watching amongst the white caps and initially had a steady stream of seabird records, primarily Gannet and gulls. By 11am, it was fairly quiet with only the occasional bird being recorded but as we headed into the mid-Channel, we could see a couple of fishing vessels off to starboard.

As the vessels moved out of the glare, we could see large numbers of seabirds wheeling around them and many more sitting on the sea surface. The vessels were fairly distant, but the gleaming bodies of the adult Gannet stood out and several hundred were recorded together with a couple of hundred gulls - distance precluding definitive identification, but a number of Great Black-backed Gull could be seen.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 05a
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

Bird numbers again tailed off except for further Gannet heading in the direction of the ships. A further fishing vessel to port a little while later also had its fair share of seabirds in tow, this time with assorted gulls predominating.

As we neared Dieppe, the sea state dropped and a group of Starling could be seen flying close to the water towards the mainland.

We headed into Dieppe for a bite to eat, including a delicious tart au citron, in one of the many cafes. The sun was beating down and it felt like high summer rather than mid-October. We headed back to the ship but darkness prevented us from surveying more which was a shame as the sea state close to Dieppe was ideal for observation.

A big thank you to Captain Conquet and his crew for their warm welcome and continued support of MARINElife surveys on this route.

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 20 September 2014

Posted 23 September 2014

Carol Farmer-Wright and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather
Outbound: Winds variable NW veering E to WNW, sea state 1-3, cloudy with occasional sunshine.
Return: Winds NW veering ENE 4-5, sea state 2-4, cloudy with mist.

Summary of sightings;

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 75
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 35
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 114
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Gull sp. 12
Larus sp. 75
Auk sp. 1
Skua sp. 2

Terrestrial Birds
Warbler sp. 2
Passerine sp. 4

We met at Newhaven and had a cup of coffee at the terminal before being taken to the Côte d'Albâtre by the port staff. We were welcomed on the bridge by Captain Conquet and settled down to begin our survey. The high pressure that had been over the south coast of England had resulted in cloud cover accompanied by a light mist that advanced and receded as we journeyed south.

Initially we encountered Herring, Black-headed, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls. Many of the birds were juveniles. As we moved further south Gannet began to appear with the occasional skua. Three hours into the survey, groups of Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull were observed resting on the water. Many young birds were present in these small rafts. Further encounters of resting birds were seen as we approached Dieppe Harbour. We left the bridge as we entered the harbour to start compiling our sightings and await the return leg three hours later.

LBB Gull Graham Ekins 03a
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

We returned to the bridge and the ship left promptly at 17:00. The weather had cleared a little since our arrival and as we left we immediately started to record the larger gull species: Herring, Great and Lesser Black-backed. Half an hour after leaving Dieppe a group of 20 or more individuals were seen resting in the water, a few birds were feeding. These birds took to the air as we neared their position and many of them decided to shadow the boat as it travelled north. A few Gannet were also in evidence. Sadly, with the autumn equinox being almost upon us, we were forced to close the survey before 19:00. We left the bridge to complete our report. Unfortunately no cetaceans were seen this time, but it is encouraging to see so many young gulls in the Channel.

As always our thanks go to DFDS, Captain Conquet, his officers and crew for being so supportive of our work.

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 16 August 2014

Posted 26 August 2014

Peter Jones and Melissa Goulton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 15
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 124
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Common tern Sterna hirundo 7
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 3
Gull Sp. 5

Weather:
Outward Leg: Sea state 2-3, with some glare
Return leg: Sea state 4-5 with significant swell. Visibility was very good throughout the survey

We met up at Newhaven with plenty of time before the 11:30am departure, so enjoyed a coffee and chatted about previous Marinelife surveys.

Once we departed Newhaven on the Côte d'Albâtre, we were shown to the bridge, introduced to the crew and commenced our survey. Visibility was excellent with a sea state of 3 for the outward leg. Bird sightings on this leg were Herring, Great Black-backed, and Lesser Black-backed Gull initially, plus a steady trickle of Gannet, quite a few of which were circling and diving for food. Roughly midway across the Channel Melissa spotted a single Harbour Porpoise break the surface twice, as it swam away from the ship giving excellent but typically brief views. This was the only cetacean sighting of the trip. Bird sightings improved further after this point and we had nice close views of Great Skua, Fulmar, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern.

LBB Gull Graham Ekins 01
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

We arrived at Dieppe and watched Black-headed Gull in a feeding frenzy around the water stirred up by the ferry. Due to a fairly fast turn-around at Dieppe, we remained on board. The port and surrounding hillside often has a nice selection of birds, and whilst in port we watched Black Redstart foraging around the boulders next to the ship and 2 White Wagtail. A Hobby circled overhead before stooping after prey and a tired looking Linnet was resting on the top deck, this bird may have been picked up in the Channel.

Kittiwake Rob Petley-Jones 02a
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Pretty soon we were on the return leg and the conditions had deteriorated to sea state 4, then later sea state 5 with a significant swell. We continued to have sightings of Gannet, Fulmar, Sandwich Tern, plus the large gulls. Some 'Commic' terns were also seen, but too far away to confirm whether Common or Arctic. Towards the end of the day Kittiwake started to be recorded, and our final highlight was a tight flock of 15 Common Scoter, comprising just 1 Summer plumaged Male. As the light faded, we thanked the crew for their hospitality and refreshments and concluded the survey.

After arriving on time at Newhaven and clearing passport control, we went our separate ways, after a very enjoyable day's survey.

MARINElife Survey Report DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 5 July 2014

Posted 14 July 2014

Susannah Fleiss and Elaine Brown, Research surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather
Outbound: SW 5-3, swell 3m to 1m, almost full cloud cover.
Inbound: SW 2, little swell, intermittent light rain and mist with full cloud cover.

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 166
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 19
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Unidentified Auk Sp. 4
Unidentified Gull Sp. 1

We boarded the Côte d'Albâtre in good time, having enjoyed a coffee in the waiting room cafe beforehand. The ship departed Newhaven at its scheduled time of 10am and shortly after leaving Newhaven harbour, we entered the bridge to begin surveying.

Close to Newhaven, we sighted several Herring Gull and an auk, either a Razorbill or Guillemot, unfortunately too fast-flying to be identified. As we moved further into the Channel, we had large numbers of Gannet sightings. We were privileged to have some excellent views of individuals gaining lift from the front of the ship; the adults are particularly beautiful in their breeding plumage.

Gannet Rob Petley-Jones 06a
Gannet (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

The sea state was 4-5 for the first two hours or so of the survey and a swell height of 2-3m resulted in some spray onto the windows, which unfortunately reduced visibility for the remainder of the outbound crossing. However, we were able to sight a large number of Gannet of various ages, and also a Kittiwake.

As we neared Dieppe, we saw more Herring Gull and we suspect that the overall low bird diversity of the trip is a result of the time of year, as many seabirds are feeding their young in coastal colonies in early and mid summer.

With two hours turnaround time in Dieppe, we were able to disembark and enjoy a coffee in the town.

The return journey began, and maintained calmer conditions of a sea state 2 and minimal swell. Initially this enabled excellent viewing conditions and we saw numerous Gannet, some Herring Gull, Kittiwake, and Fulmar.

Unfortunately, intermittent light rain and mist following departure reduced the visibility to around 2km at times. This did not however, impede our (and the crew's) spotting a Harbour Porpoise surface 100m in front of the ship. This was very exciting, despite being only a fleeting glimpse and certainly a highlight of the trip.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 07
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We continued to see new species as the evening progressed, passing both Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. The Gannet sightings continued throughout the survey, with more Kittiwake, Fulmar and Herring Gull. Towards the end of the survey, a group of three auk species passed by in flight, again unfortunately eluding further identification.

We ended the survey at 8.30pm, both content and looking forward to surveying on this route again. We very much thank the captain and crew of the Côte d'Albâtre who, as always, prove very welcoming and assist us where possible.

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 7 June 2014

Posted 12 June 2014

Steve Morgan and Libby Abbott, Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather
Outbound: wind southwesterly, c20 knots, sea state mainly 3.
Inbound: wind northerly 10-15 knots, sea state 2

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 20
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 121
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 57
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 32
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Unidentified Gull sp. 32
Unidentified Tern sp. 3

We boarded the Côte d'Albâtre on a rather cloudy and grey day and made our way to the bridge as we reversed out of Newhaven Harbour. The spacious bridge gave excellent visibility, and the day was bright with a breezy southwest wind and sea state of 3. As we backed out of Newhaven harbour we were joined by a flock of 20 Common Scoter. Bird life was sporadic as we crossed, with highlights being a single Manx Shearwater, and a single Cormorant.

Guillemot Rick Morris 01a
Guillemot (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

Gannet were present throughout the crossing, most of them adults, quite a spectacular sight to see in their uniform black and white livery and their yellow faces.  At one point there was a flock of Gannet, consisting of 10 to 12 birds close to the ship, heading towards the coast of France. Only one Guillemot was seen, with small numbers of Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and a lone Fulmar on the return journey.

A pair of Harbour Porpoise were sighted by Steve on the outward journey but disappeared from view quite quickly. Conditions continued in the same fantastic vein on the return leg. The sun shone and barely a ripple troubled the surface of the sea. By evening, the sea state had moderated to 2.

Kittiwake Rob Petley-Jones 02a
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

As we had only a 2 1/2 hour turnaround at Dieppe we stayed on board. As we left the narrow entrance to Dieppe harbour the wind had settled to Force 3 and the sea had also settled, which improved our chances of seeing small cetaceans, however, once again we were just seeing seabirds, with more Gannet and Kittiwake, some already in post-breeding moult and a couple of Manx Shearwater skimming across the water in their typical manner.

One adult Gannet followed the ship on the starboard side for approximately 10 minutes, just above the sight of the bridge. There were more sightings of kittiwake as we approached Newhaven harbour before docking as the light faded at 9:00pm.

Overall we saw 276 seabirds, the low number of bird probably reflects that at this time of year most are at their colonies.

We are most grateful to the very friendly and helpful crew of the Côte d'Albâtre for a very enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 17 May 2014

Posted 19 May 2014

Steve Morgan and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather outbound: wind SW, sea state mainly 2, some mist. Weather inbound: wind SW, sea state mainly 2, hazy sunshine.

Summary of sightings

Mammals and cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 25

Seabirds:

Atlantic Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus 60
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 23
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 25
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 11
Common Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Unidentified Auk Sp. 5
Unidentified Gull Sp. 16
Unidentified Diver Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 4

We boarded the Côte d'Albâtre in glorious spring weather and set ourselves up on the bridge as we reversed out of Newhaven Harbour. The sea was mirror calm and, though an eerie mist hung over the sea, conditions were excellent for cetacean spotting.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01a
Harbour Porpoie (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The outward leg produced a series of great sightings of Harbour Porpoise, the animals clearly visible (and identifiable) even at sometimes more than 1000 metres range. Twice we saw a mother and calf together, each time the youngster keeping tight to its mother's flank and surfacing together in perfect synchronisation. By the time we approached Dieppe we had accounted for 18 of these small cetaceans.

Gannet were present throughout the crossing, most of them adults, resplendent in their crisp black and white uniform. There were a few Guillemot about, small numbers of Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull and a lone Fulmar. A diver, probably Red-throated, hurried across the surface at distance but it was too far away to identify conclusively.

Gannet Rick Morris 07a
Gannet (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

We arrived at Dieppe in beautiful sunshine, the mist having burnt away, with a single Cormorant watching us manoeuvre into our berth.

Conditions continued in the same fantastic vein on the return leg. The sun shone and barely a ripple troubled the surface of the sea. By evening, the sea state had moderated to 1 and we could gaze out across a broad flat sea in search of a tell-tale splash or the momentary glimpse of a dorsal fin. It took us a while but eventually we did find more Harbour Porpoise - including yet another mother and calf duo. On one occasion we had three separate sightings going on simultaneously. I even spotted a Porpoise "unofficially" while having dinner in the canteen! We added seven more to our tally bringing the total to 25. Not bad considering that a number of people we spoke to seemed to think that the Eastern English Channel was devoid of cetaceans!

As on the outward leg, Gannet were almost continuously visible. Other species seemed rather scarce, though we did find a group of 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull sitting on the water, a sight which had me scouring every inch of the surrounding water looking for cetacean activity.

Sunset Elaine Brown
Channel sunset (Elaine Brown)

By nine o'clock the light was fading rapidly and so we concluded the survey while it was still bright enough to record our position. We extend our thanks to the captain and crew of the Côte d'Albâtre, who not only offered us every assistance but even twice managed to spot Porpoises themselves!

Observation Day Report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 10 May 2014

Posted 14 May 2014

Carol Farmer-Wright, MARINElife Research Surveyor & Guide

Weather
Winds SW 7-9 Rain clearing throughout the day

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 40
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 12
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 20
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 91
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Shearwater sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Swift Apus apus 6

We all arrived at the DFDS Seaways Newhaven terminal by 9am ready for the forthcoming MARINElife Observation Day. Weather conditions were grey and blustery with rain. Despite this we were all looking forward to the day ahead. We checked in and made our way aboard the Côte d'Albâtre for the voyage to Dieppe.

We headed up onto the topmost deck and watched the ship make its way out of the harbour and then headed into our exclusive area just behind the port side of the bridge for the southbound journey.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 02
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Our initial sightings were those of Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull that like to frequent the River Ouse and take advantage of ships stirring up the alluvial deposits in the harbour. Shortly after leaving the outer breakwater a group of 40 or more Common Scoter was seen travelling westwards.

Further out into the Channel we started to encounter the pelagic specialists. Gannet and Fulmar were riding the air currents above the waves with consummate ease. Small groups of Kittiwake were also showing off their flying prowess, the black tips of their wings showing clearly against the sea.

A small group of Swift was spotted heading north towards the Sussex coast and a shearwater was also seen, the distance from the ship making positive identification difficult.

Half an hour before docking in Dieppe we saw an indication of feeding activity. Fifty to eighty Gannet were circling, diving and sitting on a specific area of water. Despite looking carefully at the area we were unable to see any dolphins.

We left the ship in beautiful sunshine and some of the group took the short walk into town to enjoy a coffee and cake in the cafes of this pretty little town and patisserie were purchased for the return crossing.

On re-boarding the ship, we headed up to the starboard side of the vessel to commence the return trip. The wind had picked up making the potential observation of marine mammals more difficult. Seabirds were still evident and a few Cormorant were visible as we left Dieppe harbour. Gannet, Fulmar and a single Great Skua were seen before conditions changed sufficiently for us to retire from the upper decks and continue casual observations from the ships comfortable seating area.

Great Skua Peter Howlett 01
Great Skua (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A massive thank you to the participants, whose enthusiasm and dedicated observation made this a very pleasurable trip for me.

Also, a big thank you to Captain Conquet, the officers and crew of the Côte d'Albâtre for their hospitality enabling us to run this MARINElife Observation day.

MARINElife survey report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 12 April 2014

Posted 18 April 2014

Bob Graves and Susannah Fleiss, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Summary of species recorded

Marine Mammals
No marine mammals were sighted this time

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 16
Gannet Morus bassanus 94
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 7
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 67
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 13
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 13
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Auk Sp. 4
Larus Sp. 8
Tern Sp. 1
Diver Sp.2

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 2

Weather
The outward crossing was bright and calm, beginning with a sea state of 1 outside Newhaven and increasing to 3. There was no swell. Visibility was slightly hampered by haze in the first half of the crossing and glare from about 1 hour in. The wind direction was WSW.

The sea state continued to increase throughout the return leg and was force 6 by close of play. The wind had moved to a north-westerly direction. Glare and haze were not an issue on this crossing. The conditions were generally bright with variable cloud.

Great Skua Rick Morris 01
Great Skua (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

Calm and bright weather coupled with a favourable tide meant that the Côte d'Albâtre left exactly on schedule at 10:00. Both of us had arrived early and enjoyed a leisurely cuppa in the café before heading through customs where we received good wishes from the friendly staff at Newhaven port.

Once on board, we headed straight for the outside decks while we waited for the vessel to clear the harbour area and were greeted by six Sandwich Tern, the first of the year for both of us. After about ten minutes we were escorted up to the bridge to begin the survey.

The conditions initially were bright and calm but some hazy conditions restricted our longer distance visibility. For the first 45 minutes or so, we recorded only Guillemot, Razorbill and Fulmar. As the survey progressed, these species were gradually replaced by Herring Gull and Gannet in the main, with a sprinkling of Kittiwake and Great Skua for good measure.

As the sun moved from the port side to straight ahead and eventually slightly to starboard, glare became an issue with reduced visibility and colour definition in these areas.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 01a
Fulmar (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Bird sightings were quite evenly spread throughout the crossing, keeping both surveyors active and occupied. Additional species included two single Sandwich Tern, surprisingly the only terns of the trip, also two distant divers which remained frustratingly unidentified as they flew north. As we reached the French coastline, Cormorant and three additional species of gull were added to the list.

Dieppe proved to be lovely, especially in the sunny conditions and an hour or more rock-pooling on the beach was hugely enjoyed by both of us!

The return crossing brought much greater numbers of Gannet and an increase in Fulmar in the strengthening wind. Conditions eventually became quite choppy, but never unpleasant, then the fading light signalled the end of the survey.

It just remains for us to thank Captain Conquet and the entire crew for their kind assistance and hospitality. We both commented that we look forward to returning to this route in the near future.

 

MARINELife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 15 March 2014

Posted 19 March 2014

Steve Morgan and Peter Jones: Research surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather conditions: Sea state mostly 4, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 32
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 18
Gannet Morus bassanus 185
Great Cormorant Phalocrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalocrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 13
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 55
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 19
Guillemot Uria aalge 80
Razorbill Alca torda 23
Unidentified Gull Sp 4
Unidentified Auk Sp 40
Unidentified Diver Sp 15

We boarded the Côte d'Albâtre at 09.30 and were shown to the bridge almost straight away by the very helpful DFDS crew. We had hardly set ourselves up on the starboard side of the bridge before we were under way, on schedule at 10.00.

Once clear of the harbour mouth, and with the ship pointing seawards, we began recording. Herring Gull dominated proceedings at first, though soon we started to find Guillemot, Gannet and Fulmar.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 03
Fulmar (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Not far out to sea, a wave broke with a slightly suspicious second splash and, for a split second, it seemed that a glimpse of black followed it beneath the surface. Harbour Porpoise, Seal perhaps, or just a piece of flotsam? Whatever it might have been, it did not re-appear and the identity of the mysterious black object will remain unknown.

The most notable aspect of the crossing, in both directions, was the surprising number of divers. The majority were Red-throated Diver although some were too distant to be certain about. One or two, apparently slightly larger and with less white visible on their necks, might have been Great Northern.

Gannet were numerous and most were adult or nearly so, a few just sporting the odd black feather on their otherwise spotlessly white wings. Several came within a few metres of the bridge, giving us spectacular close range views. There were also a number of Great Skua in evidence, some flying purposefully across our bows, others resting on the water.

Razorbill Adrian Shephard 02
Razorbills (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

With recent reports of dead auks on beaches in both Britain and France, victims of the protracted winter storms, it was re-assuring to see good numbers of both Guillemot and Razorbill.

Indeed, it was a pleasure just to be out at sea again in relatively gentle conditions (the sea state never got worse than 4) and with good visibility. The DFDS crew and administrative staff were models of efficiency and helpfulness and several of them even took a keen interest in what we were recording. We both look forward to our next opportunity to survey this interesting route.

MARINElife survey report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 15 February 2014

Posted 23 February 2014

This survey had to be cancelled due to severe weather conditions.

MARINElife survey report: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 18 January 2014

Posted 22 January 2014

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

Weather: Wind SW 2-6

Summary of sightings

Seabirds:
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 89
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 42
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 27
Guillemot Uria aalge 49
Auk Sp. 6
Diver Sp. 6

We met in the terminal at Newhaven Harbour, where we enjoyed a cup of tea before we were efficiently ushered aboard. Once on board we received the keys to our roomy cabin and as the ferry entered the Channel, we were escorted up to the bridge.

The sea state meant that spotting cetaceans was going to be challenging, however, the early presence of a range of gull species following the vessel filled us with optimism.

Surveying Carol Farmer-Wright 01
Carol Farmer-Wright surveying the Channel

As we crossed the Channel, we began to get a steady stream of Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot. What was apparent, was that some individuals were already in a transitional period, changing to their breeding plumages.

As we neared Dieppe, the sea state lowered and we were once again hopeful for cetaceans, unfortunately though, no 'fins' broke the surface, but we did get good views of Red-throated Diver around the entrance of Dieppe harbour.

Gannet Peter Howlett 04
Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Once we finished the crossing, we disembarked and had a leisurely walk around Dieppe, before heading back to the vessel for the return crossing.

The light had significantly diminished and so during the return leg we enjoyed a superb meal in the crew's mess, compiled our sightings and subsequently entered the raw data we had collected.

We would like to thank Captain Conquet, his crew and the staff of LD Lines for their hospitality.

MARINElife survey report: LD Lines 'Cote d’Albatre' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 December 2013

Posted 19 December 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Sunny with increasing cloud on southbound leg. Winds WSW to SW force 8-5

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Gannet Morus bassanus 902
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Great Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 92
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 296
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 130
Guillemot Uria aalge 92
Undidentified Auk Sp. 3

I arrived at Newhaven and checked in with the friendly staff at the terminal ready for a 10am departure. The morning was bright and sunny as I boarded the ship and headed to the bridge to begin the survey.

At this time of year it is only possible to record the southbound leg of the journey, the sun is low in the sky and directly ahead for the majority of the time.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 06a
Gannet (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

With brisk winds and lively seas, it was going to be a day for pelagic flying specialists. Immediately on leaving the harbour, I started to record small groups of Guillemot. As the vessel moved further south Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake and Fulmar were sighted. The first Gannet was seen 11 miles south of Beachy Head.

Numbers increased as we moved south and came to a peak as we crossed behind the path of a British-registered trawler, the 'Cornelis Vrolijk' that was fishing half-way across the Channel.

As the Cote d'Albatre approached Dieppe, I caught sight of Black-headed Gull, Red-throated Diver and Cormorant that winter along the French coast. Sadly, no cetaceans were spotted on this survey, but in wintertime, conditions can make sightings more challenging.

BH Gull Carol Farmer-Wright 01a
Black-headed Gull (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

Once again, our thanks go to LD Lines, Captain Quenoil, and the officers and crew of the Cote d'Albatre who always make us feel so welcome on this route. We look forward to working with them again in 2014.

MARINElife survey report: LD Lines Network ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 16 November 2013

Posted 19 November 2013

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

Weather: N-NE 1-2

Summay of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5

Seabirds:
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 31
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 23
Gannet Morus bassanus 905
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 10
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 9
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 314
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 132
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 41
Guillemot Uria aalge 30
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Unidentified mixed gull Sp. 33
Unidentified Diver Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 58 (at sea)

We arrived at Newhaven and enjoyed a coffee and toast before heading aboard and up to the bridge. After reversing up the channel, Captain Conquet and his crew turned the' Cote d'Albatre' and we were greeted by glorious sunshine and calm seas - we could hardly believe it was November as we donned our shades!

GBB Gull Adrian Shephard 02
Great Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

There were a constant stream of seabirds to keep us occupied with early sightings of Common Scoter and a small group of Brent Geese. Increasing numbers of Gannet were observed as the survey progressed together with occasional Guillemot, Great Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake and Great Skua.

A large, mixed group of gulls, Gannet and Guillemot heralded our first cetacean sighting of a group of three Harbour Porpoise including a juvenile. Thomas then spotted the highlight of the trip, a Minke Whale, which leisurely surfaced a couple of times before disappearing! This was the first time this species has been recorded during a MARINElife survey on this route. Two further Porpoises completed the cetacean encounters.

Minke Adrian Shephard 03a
Minke Whale (Adrian Shephard)

As we neared Dieppe, Gannet and gull numbers dramatically increased as we crossed the wake of a fishing vessel - over 900 Gannet were encountered in total during the survey. A final sighting of a Red-throated Diver outside Dieppe harbour called the survey to a close.

We disembarked and enjoyed a coffee and crepe in Dieppe as the sun set.

Dieppe 17112013 Adrian Shephard
Dieppe sunset (Adrian Shephard)

A big thank you to Captain Conquet and his crew for their warm welcome and keen interest in our surveys and to DFDS Seaways for their ongoing support on this increasing productive route for marine wildlife.

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Lines ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 19 October 2013

Posted 25 October 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright and Joanne Reynolds Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Southbound: overcast, rain with reduced visibility, south-westerly wind force 6-4
Return: Brighter, improved visibility with glare at times: south-westerly wind force 4-5

Summary of sightings

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 307
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Unidentified Auk Sp. 15

Terrestrial Birds:
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 3
Unidentified Duck Sp. 41
Unidentified Passerines 5

We arrived at Newhaven to overcast skies, where we boarded our ship and were welcomed by Captain Quenoil and his officers to the bridge to begin our survey.

Gannet Rob Petley-Jones 03
Juvenile Gannet (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Shortly after leaving the port, it started to rain, which continued throughout our southbound crossing. This hampered our observations somewhat and meant that the smaller birds were sometimes frustratingly difficult to identify. That said, we were soon encountering Gannet of all ages travelling the Channel in search of food, including juveniles with their fresh brown plumage. These sightings were occasionally peppered with Herring Gull, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull and the opportunistic Great Skua.

Great Skua Mike Bamfrod 01
Great Skua (Archive photo: Mike Bamford)

We arrived at Dieppe and went ashore to start compiling our sightings at the port's café. The return journey started three hours later. During that time the skies had cleared and the rain had stopped. The hour of daylight on the north-bound section resulted in sightings of more Gannet, Herring Gull and Great Skua before the glorious sunset brought our survey to an end.

Once again our thanks go to DFDS Seaways, Captain Quenoil, and the officers and crew of the Cote d'Albatre who always make us feel so welcome on this route.