Sightings Archives: December 2015

MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 12 December 2015

Posted 16 December 2015

Adrian Shephard and Cathy Robinson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather Southwesterly winds force 3-6-2.

Summary of Species Recorded

Gannet Morus bassanus 1601
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 19
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 165
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 51
Unidentified mixed Gull Sp. 298
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Razorbill Alca torda 5
Unidentified Auk Sp. 7
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 2
Unidentified Diver Sp. 4

We arrived at Newhaven and had time to talk about the forthcoming survey in the café before boarding Seven Sisters for the trip to Dieppe. Weather was forecast to be up to a 6 coming from the Southwest and the prediction proved correct, meaning challenging conditions for cetacean spotting. We headed to reception and after departure, headed to the bridge to start the survey.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 05
Great Skua (Adrian Shephard)

We started to record a fairly constant stream of birds, initially Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake soon followed by Gannet and the first of a good number of Great Skua.

As we continued to watch ahead, a couple of fishing vessels drew our eyes and despite being a little distant, proved to be swarming with seabirds. Literally thousands of Gannet and Gulls could be seen whirling around them and a number of other species seen closer to the ship including more Great Skua and Common Gull.

Trawler Adrian Shephard 01
Gulls and Gannets feeding around a trawler (Adrian Shephard)

As we progressed further the first of two Storm Petrel were seen darting amongst the waves and, as we neared the French coast, a few additional species were recorded including a Little Gull, Red-throated Diver and a Yellow-legged Gull which kindly displayed its legs as it passed in front of the bridge.

As we approached the harbour we took our last effort reading and, a couple of moments later, watched a couple of Common Scoter pass in front of the Harbour. After the vessel was skilfully moored, we said our goodbyes and left the bridge.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 08
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

We headed into Dieppe for a quick cake and coffee and walk around in the sunny and warm December afternoon before heading back to the ship. Darkness prevented us from surveying more, so we enjoyed some dinner and started our data entry.

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