Sightings Archives: December 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Newhaven-Dieppe ‘Seven Sisters’ 15th December 2012

Posted 17 December 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Southbound cloudy with occasional rain, Wind SW 8-5 Sea state 5

Gannet Morus bassanus 150
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 75
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 98
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 53
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Mixed Gull Sp. 32
Common Gull Larus Canus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 6

Winter likes to make itself felt at this time of year and I joined the 'Seven Sisters' less than 24 hours after a winter storm had passed through the channel. I 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 me on to the bridge ready to begin the survey whilst the vessel left the River Ouse at Newhaven and turned to face the sea once clear of the outer breakwater.

Black headed GullThe first birds encountered were Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull followed by Great Black-backed Gull, all in winter plumage. The day was ideal for birds that enjoy stiff breezes and lively seas; hence, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannet were observed taking advantage of the waves to speed their search for food.

An hour into the survey a fishing vessel passed by accompanied by many Gannet and Kittiwake that had been escorting our ship went to join them. Nearing Dieppe Red-throated Diver were seen and Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull were recorded in the harbour.

With the end of the survey in sight, I thanked the officers and crew for making me feel so welcome yet again on this route and left the bridge for the return crossing.

Mark at reception kindly arranged for me to stay on board and I started to enter the data for the day. At 6pm, French time the ship left Dieppe for the return journey. The sky had cleared, darkness had fallen and a crescent moon shone over the town as I ate the superb evening meal prepared by the chefs.

I would like to thank the Captain, his officers and crew for making this survey so enjoyable. Thanks to LD Lines for enabling MARINElife to survey on board the "Seven Sisters".

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife