Sightings Archives: November 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Newhaven-Dieppe ‘Seven Sisters’ 17th November 2012

Posted 21 November 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright and John Littlewood, MARINElife Research Surveyors
Weather: Southbound: SSW 6-3 cloudy with occasional rain

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 4
Casual (by crew) sighting of Dolphin Sp. 5

Gannet Morus bassanus 220
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 90
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 49
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 15
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 6
Mixed Gull Sp. 71
Duck Sp.1

With winter on the horizon and night's drawing in it is only possible to survey the Newhaven to Dieppe southbound route at this time of year. We arrived at Newhaven port, completed the formalities at the ferry terminal and waited to board the vessel 'Seven Sisters'. Captain Conquet and his officers welcomed us on to the bridge to begin our survey. Because of the narrowness of the River Ouse at Newhaven, the vessel has to reverse out of the berth and then turns once clear of the outer breakwater.

The first birds we encountered were Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull taking advantage of the silt that is churned up as the ship manoeuvres out of the channel, followed by Great Black-backed Gull in winter plumage and a Cormorant sitting on the breakwater.
BottlenoseFurther into the Channel we recorded Herring Gull, Guillemot, Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull and a solitary Great Skua. An hour into the survey a fishing vessel passed by accompanied by many Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Gannet vying for the chance to pick up an easy meal. Seeing this and feeling hungry, we took turns to go to lunch. Just after mid-day I returned to the bridge and almost immediately was advised of a sighting of dolphin off the starboard bow. We observed three adult and one juvenile Bottlenose Dolphin approach the vessel to bow-ride. Captain Conquet then came over to advise me that another small group of dolphins, five or so, had been seen a short time before this on the port side of the vessel. One of his staff, Nicole, a lady who had worked on ships on this route for 18 years and is due to retire shortly, had never seen dolphins on this route before until today. We hope that it bodes well for her for a long and happy retirement.
The rest of the survey has us recording many adult Gannet, together with a few first winter birds and finally as we neared Dieppe, Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull were seen in the harbour.

With the end of the survey in sight, we thanked Captain Conquet, his officers and crew for making us feel so welcome yet again on this route and left the bridge for the return crossing.

Carol Farmer-Wright and John Littlewood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife