Sightings Archives: December 2013

MARINElife survey report: LD Lines 'Cote d’Albatre' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 December 2013

Posted 19 December 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Sunny with increasing cloud on southbound leg. Winds WSW to SW force 8-5

Summary of sightings:

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Gannet Morus bassanus 902
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Great Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 92
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 296
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 130
Guillemot Uria aalge 92
Undidentified Auk Sp. 3

I arrived at Newhaven and checked in with the friendly staff at the terminal ready for a 10am departure. The morning was bright and sunny as I boarded the ship and headed to the bridge to begin the survey.

At this time of year it is only possible to record the southbound leg of the journey, the sun is low in the sky and directly ahead for the majority of the time.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 06a
Gannet (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

With brisk winds and lively seas, it was going to be a day for pelagic flying specialists. Immediately on leaving the harbour, I started to record small groups of Guillemot. As the vessel moved further south Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake and Fulmar were sighted. The first Gannet was seen 11 miles south of Beachy Head.

Numbers increased as we moved south and came to a peak as we crossed behind the path of a British-registered trawler, the 'Cornelis Vrolijk' that was fishing half-way across the Channel.

As the Cote d'Albatre approached Dieppe, I caught sight of Black-headed Gull, Red-throated Diver and Cormorant that winter along the French coast. Sadly, no cetaceans were spotted on this survey, but in wintertime, conditions can make sightings more challenging.

BH Gull Carol Farmer-Wright 01a
Black-headed Gull (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

Once again, our thanks go to LD Lines, Captain Quenoil, and the officers and crew of the Cote d'Albatre who always make us feel so welcome on this route. We look forward to working with them again in 2014.