MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 18 February 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright and Tessa Milton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: wind S force 4-3, dry and sunny, visibility moderate to good with variable glare.

Summary of sightings:

Red-throated Diver  Gavia stellata 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 108
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 2
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 4
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 4
Guillemot  Uria aalge 20
Razorbill  Alca torda 4
Diver sp. 6
Auk sp. 21
Larus sp. 2
Gull sp. 2

I met up with Tessa at Newhaven Port car park and we went through to reception, collected our tickets and boarded the Seven Sisters.  We went out onto the back deck to watch the birds whilst the ship was being manoeuvred out of port, and the ships thrusters disturbed the riverbed silt resulting in a number of Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull flocking to the water to grab morsels of food - Tessa spotted one Black-headed Gull that had caught a small fish!

BH Gull Rob Petley-Jones 01
Black-headed Gull (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Once out of the harbour we were escorted to the bridge to begin our survey. The weather was ideal with calm seas and a virtually cloud-free sky, although the sun was shining in through the windows resulting in many of the birds being cast in silhouette, which made ageing difficult.

We began recording Guillemot, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Red-throated Diver and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  As we moved further into the Channel Gannet and Kittiwake became the birds more frequently seen, with a couple of Great Skua looking to steal a meal from them.  As we travelled south the sea became smoother, to such an extent that we picked up distant splashes of Red-throated Diver running along the water to take flight.  Despite the excellent the sea conditions we did not see any cetaceans on this survey.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 13
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We concluded our survey on arrival in Dieppe and thanked Captain Conquet and his staff for their hospitality before heading into Dieppe to see the open market and to look for a baguette.