Michael Bamford and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather - Out: Southwesterly force 4, good visibility. Return: Westerly force 3-4 good visibility
Summary of species recorded:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 77
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 3
We were very efficiently shown on board the Côte d'Albatre, which is the sister ship to the Seven Sisters. After manoeuvring from the harbour, we were shown to the very spacious bridge, and set up in the usual position to the right of centre. Visibility was good, and the crossing smooth with the sea surface ruffled with white caps, but no perceptible swell. Apart from a regular stream of Gannet, of varying ages, we saw a couple of tern species - Sandwich and Common, but no cetaceans. We were only slightly mollified by hearing that on the previous day, the ship had been accompanied by up to a dozen Common Dolphin.
Common Tern (Photo: Mike Bamford)
Also on the outward voyage was the unfortunate sight of a 2nd summer Gannet trailing a hook and about 1 metre of fishing line from its beak - discarded fishing tackle as in this instance can be a real problem for all marine wildlife.
Landing in Dieppe we went ashore briefly with the other passengers. Walking into town, we saw a number of Buddleia bushes, with many butterflies, including a couple of migratory Painted Ladies - which I have not yet seen this side of the Channel, but might soon be on their way.
Painted Lady (Photo: Mike Bamford)
Returning, we again saw no mammals, but the bird list was enlivened by three Great Skua, and a few Fulmar. We left the bridge at 20.10, as viewing became difficult in the gathering dusk.
Thank you to the very hospitable crew of the Cote d'Albatre, and to the helpful terminal staff.