Sightings Archives: November 2014

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways Côte d'Albâtre Newhaven-Dieppe 15 November 2014

Posted 18 November 2014

Peter Jones and Elaine Brown, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: sea state 2 with good visibility throughout. Strong glare ahead of the ship initially, later moving to the starboard side.

Summary of sightings:

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 195
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 32
Common Guillemot Uria aalge 9
Unidentified Auk Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 18

We arrived at Newhaven ferry terminal and went to the port café for an early morning coffee and muffin. By the time 10am rolled around we were both looking forward to enjoying an excellent day out aboard the Côte d'Albâtre to Dieppe.

Pomarine Skua Mike Bailey 01
Pomarine Skua (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

As this survey would take place on the outward journey only we were keen to begin and we were escorted to the bridge shortly after our departure from Newhaven. The sea was fairly calm and we got underway with a small number of Guillemot on the water, followed by a tight flock of migrating Goldfinch. As we headed further into the Channel Gannet dominated the sightings before we saw the breathtaking sight of a Great Skua and a Great Black-backed Gull fighting close to the ship. Two Fulmar briefly made an appearance together with more Great Skua before another skirmish took place. This time a juvenile Pomarine Skua harassing two Kittiwake.

Gannet sightings then continued to dominate, including two groups circling and plunge diving, unfortnately we didn't see any cetaceans below the circling birds. Another Pomarine Skua was seen, this one flying more leisurely than the earlier bird.

The survey concluded with the impressive sight of Little Gulls migrating west along the French coast, about a mile from land. We counted 32 in total as we passed their flight path, but we suspect many more birds would have been migrating through.

Peer Jones Newhaven-Dieppe Elaine Brown 01
Surveying on the Côte d'Albâtre (Elaine Brown)

Once in Dieppe, we explored the town where there was an open market and a fair, as well as fresh fish being cooked over a barbeque. Bird-wise, Dieppe was fairly quiet except for a brief view of a Black Redstart and a Little Egret overhead.

On arrival back at Newhaven we thanked the Captain and crew for their hospitality throughout the day.