Peter Jones and Melissa Goulton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Summary of sightings:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 15
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 124
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Common tern Sterna hirundo 7
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 3
Gull Sp. 5
Outward Leg: Sea state 2-3, with some glare
Return leg: Sea state 4-5 with significant swell. Visibility was very good throughout the survey
We met up at Newhaven with plenty of time before the 11:30am departure, so enjoyed a coffee and chatted about previous Marinelife surveys.
Once we departed Newhaven on the Côte d'Albâtre, we were shown to the bridge, introduced to the crew and commenced our survey. Visibility was excellent with a sea state of 3 for the outward leg. Bird sightings on this leg were Herring, Great Black-backed, and Lesser Black-backed Gull initially, plus a steady trickle of Gannet, quite a few of which were circling and diving for food. Roughly midway across the Channel Melissa spotted a single Harbour Porpoise break the surface twice, as it swam away from the ship giving excellent but typically brief views. This was the only cetacean sighting of the trip. Bird sightings improved further after this point and we had nice close views of Great Skua, Fulmar, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern.
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)
We arrived at Dieppe and watched Black-headed Gull in a feeding frenzy around the water stirred up by the ferry. Due to a fairly fast turn-around at Dieppe, we remained on board. The port and surrounding hillside often has a nice selection of birds, and whilst in port we watched Black Redstart foraging around the boulders next to the ship and 2 White Wagtail. A Hobby circled overhead before stooping after prey and a tired looking Linnet was resting on the top deck, this bird may have been picked up in the Channel.
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)
Pretty soon we were on the return leg and the conditions had deteriorated to sea state 4, then later sea state 5 with a significant swell. We continued to have sightings of Gannet, Fulmar, Sandwich Tern, plus the large gulls. Some 'Commic' terns were also seen, but too far away to confirm whether Common or Arctic. Towards the end of the day Kittiwake started to be recorded, and our final highlight was a tight flock of 15 Common Scoter, comprising just 1 Summer plumaged Male. As the light faded, we thanked the crew for their hospitality and refreshments and concluded the survey.
After arriving on time at Newhaven and clearing passport control, we went our separate ways, after a very enjoyable day's survey.