Sightings Archives: October 2014

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 18 October 2014

Posted 21 October 2014

Adrian Shephard and Thomas Fisher, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Strong winds.  Sea state 5.

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 1017
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 70
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 553
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Unidentified Auk Sp. 3

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 48 (at sea)

We arrived at Newhaven with enough time before departure to enjoy a coffee and some breakfast in the café at Newhaven terminal. We were welcomed aboard by the DFDS reception staff and taken straight up to the bridge to watch the ship leave the berth and head out into the Channel.

GBB Gull Adrian Shephard 03
Great Black-backed Gull (Adrian Shephard)

The forecast had been right, relatively strong winds from the south meant the sea state was 5 for much of the outbound crossing and coupled with strong glare ahead we struggled to pick out cetaceans and seabirds on the sea, but we kept watching amongst the white caps and initially had a steady stream of seabird records, primarily Gannet and gulls. By 11am, it was fairly quiet with only the occasional bird being recorded but as we headed into the mid-Channel, we could see a couple of fishing vessels off to starboard.

As the vessels moved out of the glare, we could see large numbers of seabirds wheeling around them and many more sitting on the sea surface. The vessels were fairly distant, but the gleaming bodies of the adult Gannet stood out and several hundred were recorded together with a couple of hundred gulls - distance precluding definitive identification, but a number of Great Black-backed Gull could be seen.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 05a
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

Bird numbers again tailed off except for further Gannet heading in the direction of the ships. A further fishing vessel to port a little while later also had its fair share of seabirds in tow, this time with assorted gulls predominating.

As we neared Dieppe, the sea state dropped and a group of Starling could be seen flying close to the water towards the mainland.

We headed into Dieppe for a bite to eat, including a delicious tart au citron, in one of the many cafes. The sun was beating down and it felt like high summer rather than mid-October. We headed back to the ship but darkness prevented us from surveying more which was a shame as the sea state close to Dieppe was ideal for observation.

A big thank you to Captain Conquet and his crew for their warm welcome and continued support of MARINElife surveys on this route.