MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Côte d’Albâtre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 11 June 2016

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

Weather: Sea state 1-2 throughout the survey, visibility hampered by hazy conditions for most of the day.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 10
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 63
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 277
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Guillemot Uria aalge 8
Shearwater sp. 1
Tern sp. 1

The ship departed from Newhaven at 9am, and I was invited onto the bridge for the survey with a very calm looking sea ahead. A slight haze was to hamper visibility slightly, but it was not long before birds were recorded with several Herring Gull on the water. Two small groups of Guillemot were seen before Kittiwake, Fulmar, and the first Gannet of the survey were recorded.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 11
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A group of three Harbour Porpoise, including one young animal, were seen quite clearly, albeit distantly, as they surfaced frequently. Twenty minutes later, another group of three were seen, these much closer and again showing quite well.

Gannet started to become more numerous towards the mid channel, and a good spell of birds included a Manx Shearwater, three Great Skua, and a Storm Petrel. It was whilst tracking the Storm Petrel away from the ship's starboard side, that I very fortunately saw another Harbour Porpoise, this one only surfacing once. Two further Harbour Porpoise were seen on the outward leg, and the approach to Dieppe was dominated by Herring Gull.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 01
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

In Dieppe, I took a walk along the road between the port and the town. Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were heard singing in the nearby bushes, and a White Wagtail was sighted.

The return to Newhaven was in even calmer sea conditions and two additional Harbour Porpoise were spotted. Again Herring Gull dominated the sightings with a large number following a fishing boat. Great Skua, Fulmar and Kittiwake were again recorded and close views of two Guillemot on the sea were the final sightings before concluding the survey.

On arrival in Newhaven, I thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading home.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 01
Herring Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)