Adrian Shephard and Sally Stewart-Moore; Research Surveyors for
Weather: S 0-2
Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 16
Gannet Morus bassanus 231
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 26
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 315
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 79
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 66
Guillemot Uria aalge 388
Razorbill Alca torda 55
Unidentified Auk Sp. 10
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 50
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Unidentified Diver Sp. 9
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 70
Tidal conditions meant a mid-day departure for this survey giving plenty of time for arrival in Newhaven. Wind conditions were predicted to be light and we were not disappointed. After check-in, we discussed the survey over a coffee, as this was Sally's first trip and then headed aboard and up to the bridge.
It was the Cote D Albatre for this survey rather than the Seven Sisters and we were welcomed warmly by the bridge crew. Almost immediately, we were recording seabirds, with the flat seas making for excellent spotting conditions for Auks with many Guillemot and Razorbill being observed.
We were pleased to have a continuous stream of birds throughout the survey with over 1300 birds seen over the southbound trip. The predominant species being Guillemot and Gannet but also good numbers of Herring Gull around a small fishing boat near the French coast.
After 40 minutes surveying, two Harbour Porpoise, an adult and juvenile made a fleeting appearance and a further sighting of this elusive species was made close to the French coast - the calm conditions are ideal for sighting these diminutive animals.
Other highlights included a group of 70 Brent Geese and a view of kleptoparasitism in action as a Great Skua chased down a gull to encourage it to disgorge its last meal.
We only had around 15 minutes of usable light on the return voyage, but the clear seas and skies made for a beautiful sunset from the birth in Dieppe. We thanked Captain Conquet, bridge team and staff before departing to write up our sightings and made our way home.
Adrian Shephard and Sally Stewart-Moore, Research Surveyors for MARINElife