Steve Morgan and Libby Abbott, Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Outbound: wind southwesterly, c20 knots, sea state mainly 3.
Inbound: wind northerly 10-15 knots, sea state 2
Summary of Species Recorded
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 20
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 121
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 57
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 32
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Unidentified Gull sp. 32
Unidentified Tern sp. 3
We boarded the Côte d'Albâtre on a rather cloudy and grey day and made our way to the bridge as we reversed out of Newhaven Harbour. The spacious bridge gave excellent visibility, and the day was bright with a breezy southwest wind and sea state of 3. As we backed out of Newhaven harbour we were joined by a flock of 20 Common Scoter. Bird life was sporadic as we crossed, with highlights being a single Manx Shearwater, and a single Cormorant.
Guillemot (Archive photo: Rick Morris)
Gannet were present throughout the crossing, most of them adults, quite a spectacular sight to see in their uniform black and white livery and their yellow faces. At one point there was a flock of Gannet, consisting of 10 to 12 birds close to the ship, heading towards the coast of France. Only one Guillemot was seen, with small numbers of Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and a lone Fulmar on the return journey.
A pair of Harbour Porpoise were sighted by Steve on the outward journey but disappeared from view quite quickly. Conditions continued in the same fantastic vein on the return leg. The sun shone and barely a ripple troubled the surface of the sea. By evening, the sea state had moderated to 2.
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)
As we had only a 2 1/2 hour turnaround at Dieppe we stayed on board. As we left the narrow entrance to Dieppe harbour the wind had settled to Force 3 and the sea had also settled, which improved our chances of seeing small cetaceans, however, once again we were just seeing seabirds, with more Gannet and Kittiwake, some already in post-breeding moult and a couple of Manx Shearwater skimming across the water in their typical manner.
One adult Gannet followed the ship on the starboard side for approximately 10 minutes, just above the sight of the bridge. There were more sightings of kittiwake as we approached Newhaven harbour before docking as the light faded at 9:00pm.
Overall we saw 276 seabirds, the low number of bird probably reflects that at this time of year most are at their colonies.
We are most grateful to the very friendly and helpful crew of the Côte d'Albâtre for a very enjoyable trip.