Robert Graves and Lee Slater, Research Surveyors for
Weather: S-SW winds, Sea state 9-5, overcast with light intermittent rain, moderate visibility.
Summary of sightings
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 70
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Auk Sp. 2
Wind conditions meant an early afternoon departure for this survey, this allowed for a leisurely start to the day. After a prompt check-in, we discussed the species we might possibly observe and ran over the recording protocols one last time, as it was my first survey.
Once we departed from the harbour, we were warmly welcomed to the bridge by Captain Conquet and the crew of the Cote d'Albatre. The wind speed quickly dropped and visibility improved early in to the survey. As soon as we got in position we began recording seabirds with gulls being particularly apparent in the coastal waters at each end of the survey (predominately Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed). Gannet were a constant presence, including a couple of incredibly close encounters. The deeper we ventured in to the English Channel the more Razorbill and Guillemot sightings increased, spotting both species in various stages of moult, with summer plumage being more pronounced in certain individuals. Kittiwake and Fulmar were also spotted periodically throughout the trip.
As Dieppe appeared on the horizon, we were rewarded with a brief sighting of a Great Northern Diver, swiftly followed by a clear sighting of a Red-throated Diver. Cormorant and Great Crested Grebe were also recorded in the harbour around Dieppe.
Red-throated Diver (Archive photo: Mike Bamford)
We docked in Dieppe just as the light was beginning to diminish; we therefore thanked Captain Conquet and his staff before disembarking the ship. We used the return journey to collate our data and discuss the success of the day's observations.