MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways 'Seven Sisters' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 March 2015

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

Weather: Initially sea state 3, with good visibility. The sea state later increased to 5 with significant swell.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 11
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 9
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 20
Gannet Morus bassanus 72
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 11
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Gull sp. 100

Terrestrial birds
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 1

After meeting in the Newhaven ferry terminal café, we made our way onto the Seven Sisters and were invited onto the bridge for the survey. As we departed Newhaven we enjoyed sightings of Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 01
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Further into the Channel, we saw a single Red-throated Diver plus two summer-plumaged Kittiwake, and a Guillemot. A flock of 16 Fulmar was an impressive sight, and a small number of Gannet were recorded.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Skua and Razorbill added to the variety of seabirds and, during the second half of the crossing, more Red-throated Diver were seen heading East.

With the French coast just visible, we saw a large flock of gulls circling, but were unable to locate any activity on the surface. We did, however, see a small wader fly past the ship, (which looked like a Jack Snipe). A Great Northern Diver was disturbed off the sea very close to the ship, proving an initial identification challenge as we looked down on it from directly above. Fortunately, better views were obtained before it dived.

GN Diver Peter Howlett 01
Great Northern Diver (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return journey had just enough daylight to see a Great-crested Grebe in Dieppe harbour, juvenile Kittiwake and a flock of 11 Common Scoter.

We thanked the ship's crew for their hospitality throughout the day and arrived back at Newhaven after a very enjoyable survey.