Sightings Archives: June 2017

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 17 June 2017

Posted 21 June 2017

Mandy Bright and Steve Boswell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Dry and sunny, visibility very good, sea state 0 - 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phoceana phoceana 13

Gannet Morus bassanus 255
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Common Scoter Melanitta fusca 3
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibindus 3
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Herring Gull Larus argantatus 190
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 2
Razorbill Alca torda 1

Terrestrial birds In Dieppe
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus
Stonechat Saxicola torquata

We arrived at Newhaven in bright sunshine and with excellent weather forecast were looking forward to a great survey.  We boarded the Seven Sisters and immediately headed to the bridge where we were made very welcome by the captain and his crew to begin our survey as we departed the harbour.

Several Herring Gull close to the harbour were followed by sightings of Fulmar and Gannet and seabird sightings were steady as we moved further into the Channel.   Just as we were deciding who would have a quick coffee break first, our attention was drawn by a group of feeding Gannet.   A careful watch of the sea beneath them revealed first two dorsal fins joined by a third as the three Harbour Porpoise moved across in front of the ship.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15b
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Gannet and Herring Gull continued to be regular sightings and as we neared the French coast, where we encountered Sandwich Tern, Shag and Cormorant, as well as a Black-headed Gull.

We disembarked in Dieppe and strolled into town, and the amazing weather tempted us to sit on the seafront for a while where the sights and sounds included a Portuguese marching band!

As we walked back to the ship we spotted White Wagtail, Linnet and Blackcap.  At the port, we had time to take in the birdlife outside the ticket office and enjoyed hearing and eventually seeing a Black Redstart as well as a Rock Pipit and a Stonechat.   We boarded the ship and made our way back to the bridge.

As we left Dieppe, it was clear that the sea state was even calmer than the outward journey and we soon saw a Mediterranean Gull and Common Scoter.  Apart from glare from the sun, we had perfect survey conditions and were ready for a hopefully full return trip, and we added Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gull to the species already seen on the way out.  The flat sea meant any movement could be picked up and about an hour into this part of the survey we had three sightings of Harbour Porpoise in quick succession, the slow rolling dorsal fins clear to watch from quite a distance.  These sightings also followed a conversation about coffee breaks so we were beginning to sense a pattern!

Puffin Peter Howlett 01a
Puffin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A Great Skua was good to see as we reached the middle of the channel.  We then saw an auk species which on closer inspection proved to be a Puffin and this was followed by further sightings of this species in a similar area.

As we continued we saw further Harbour Porpoise as well as adding Razorbill and Guillemot to our sightings.  We arrived into Newhaven and thanked the captain and crew for their hospitality before disembarking and heading home after a very enjoyable and interesting survey.