Carol Farmer-Wright and Emma Howe-Andrews, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Overcast with rain southbound and dry on the return leg. Winds SSW force 4 -7
Summary of sightings:
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 92
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 15
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 20
Undidentified Auk sp. 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
We arrived at Newhaven and checked in ready for an 11 a.m. departure, boarded the ship and headed to the bridge to begin our survey. On this occasion we were privileged in being able to watch Captain Conquet and his officers turning the ship 180 degrees in the river before heading out into the English Channel. This manoeuvre is done with only a couple of metres to spare and testemony to the expertise of these seamen.
Gannet (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)
Rain set in half an hour into our survey and made sightings more difficult. However, just as the rain started we had a very brief glimpse of a solitary dolphin, frustratingly too brief to identify. From that point on we encountered Gannet, Guillemot and a solitary Fulmar. Gannet take six years to reach maturity and most of the birds seen were adult with the occasional 5 year old bird making an appearance.
Lack of daylight limited the survey on the return leg to two and a half hours, although fortunately by then the rain had stopped. The wind had also moderated on the French side making observation easier. This gave us a better opportunity to see the Guillemots, some males still watching over last year's young, the latter now being the same size as their parent. Gannet then became the predominant bird. At one point we were fortunate to see a small group of Little Gull rushing to leave the water as we approached them.
Little Gull (Photo: David Palmar)
With dusk falling rapidly we thanked Captain Conquet, his officers and crew for their hospitality and left the bridge to compile our sightings.