Sightings Archives: June 2015

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 13 June 2015

Posted 22 June 2015

Fraser Paterson and Karrie Langdon; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Outward - dry for most of the journey, with slowly decreasing cloud cover, generally good visibility, westerly winds, sea state 2-3, swell height 1.
Return - dry, sunny periods, visibility excellent though significant glare moving from ahead port to dead ahead, westerly winds, sea state 1-2, swell height 1.

Summary of sightings:

European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 107
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Gull sp. 10

Terrestrial Birds
Domestic Pigeon 5

Having received a warm welcome on board the Cote d'Albatre and installed ourselves on the bridge, we set sail expectantly from Newhaven in dry, but windy conditions with overcast skies and fairly good visibility, leaving around 100 Herring Gull wheeling behind the ship. On the way to Dieppe we encountered reasonable numbers of non-breeding, mainly adult Gannet and Kittiwake.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 04
Herrng Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

A highlight of this leg of the survey was a brief sighting of a petrel species that we picked up flying low as we tracked a Gannet. As we approached Dieppe, a pair of Yellow-legged Gull flew in front of the ship, showing their distinctive 'undercarriage' that differentiated them from the more common Herring Gull that flew out to meet us. A few Cormorant, a Shag and a Fulmar also crossed our path, while a Great Skua lifted off the water on the port side. There was no visible cetacean activity and a distinct lack of any auks or terns on the trip, although a few racing or homing pigeon overtook us on their way to France.

In Dieppe, we disembarked for a few hours, walking towards the town where we enjoyed "une pression et un orange pressée" in one of the cafes. A few Black Redstart were spotted around the port area as we waited to board for our return leg to Newhaven.

Great Skua Rick Morris 01a
Great Skua (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

With the sun shining and conditions calm, we were accompanied by a few Herring Gull for a short while and the odd Cormorant. Our return leg was characterised by long periods of little seabird activity (breeding birds would naturally be at nesting sites at this time of year) but with steady sightings of Gannet and Kittiwake.  The highlight of the return leg was a group of six Fulmar that were sitting on the ocean.

We would like to thank the Captains, the officers and crew of the Cote D'Albatre for their continued generous hospitality and support.