Sightings Archives: March 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Newhaven-Dieppe 'Seven Sisters' 17 March 2012

Posted 18 March 2012

Carol Greig and Sue Lakeman Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: SW2

Unidentified Dolphin Sp 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis: 5
Gannet Morus bassanus: 104
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo: 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua: 6
Black-Headed Gull Larus ridibundus: 34+
Herring Gull Larus argentatus: 66+
Lesser Black-Backed Gull: Larus fuscus 15
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus: 10
Common Gull Larus canus: 1
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla: 10
Guillemot Uria aalge: 33
Razorbill Alca torda: 2
Unidentified Auk Sp.: 14
Unidentified Small Gull Sp.: 18
Unidentified Large Gull Sp.: 5
Unidentified Diver Sp.: 1

Terrestrial Birds
Carrion Crow Corvus corone: 1
Jackdaw Corvus monedula:  7

After a restful night's sleep at a nearby B & B within sight of the ferry and eagerly anticipating our first trip with LD lines Network, we arrived at the terminal where we were welcomed by the Transmanche team and escorted over to the Seven Sisters by the Duty Manager. A cabin was very generously provided for us and whilst the ship was loading we were taken up to the bridge where Captain Conquet welcomed us personally and showed us around the bridge and the instruments from which we would need to take readings. He was interested in our work and we provided him with a MARINElife welcome pack including identification charts which he placed on display on the bridge.

Sue Lakeman Hafnia SeawaysDuring our prompt and smooth departure, the use of the ship's bow thrusters caused the seabed to be churned up thus attracting a large flock (70+) of gulls, mainly Herring and Black-headed but in amongst them a fleeting glimpse of a large pale gull, possibly the Iceland Gull that has been reported in the Sussex Ornithological Society as frequenting Newhaven harbour.

The crossing was calm and although there was low cloud cover with limited visibility, we had good sightings of Razorbills and Guillemots which are two species of auk, flying low over the water or at rest on the surface, and similarly Gannets, strikingly white in their adult plumage and hence visible from some distance. One Gannet was seen being harassed by a gull whilst struggling, and eventually succeeding, to swallow a large fish.

As we neared mid-channel, we started encountering Great Skua's, Kittiwakes and a distant Diver flying overhead, albeit unidentifiable to species.

A little over half way across we had a tantalising glimpse of 2 dolphins surfacing briefly but over all too soon with no time to identify them to species level or to alert the crew. Later, a member of staff in the dining area was to tell us that they have frequent sightings later on in the year giving rise to the promise of a very productive route for wildlife encounters.

Great Skua 2

On arrival in France, we disembarked and walked into town alongside the harbour wall. Dieppe is a pretty town and, with the Saturday market in full swing, we enjoyed the stalls and a cup of coffee at a harbour side café. On our return to join the ferry we were treated to sightings and song of three Firecrests busily feeding in the lone pine at the ferry terminal entrance.

Survey time commenced as the ship left port although with approaching darkness there was little over an hour of daylight available but sufficient for further sightings of gulls, Cormorants, Gannets and auks and once again the crossing was calm.

A good supper was provided for us in the restaurant and we enjoyed the remaining travel time discussing the trip before arriving in Newhaven.

We would like to thank Captain Conquet, his officers and crew plus the Duty Manager and Transmanche team in Newhaven for their friendly welcome and help throughout the voyage.

Carol Greig and Sue Lakeman, Research Surveyors for MARINElife