Sightings Archives: July 2017

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

Posted 21 July 2017

Keith Morgan and Steve Boswell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Dry and cloudy with occasional sun, visibility good, sea state 3

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 3

Gannet Morus bassanus 155
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 20

Terrestrial birds In Dieppe
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

We headed to the bridge of Seven Sisters shortly after departing Newhaven. We started our survey at 09.30 after we'd left the shelter of the harbour and found calm conditions out to sea with very good visibility.  Initially we had some glare to contend with, but this came and went as the sun peeked through the clouds.

We had a steady flow of birds - initially all of them "in the box" - and were able to see up close the various stages of plumage change that Gannet go through, from the darkest of the juveniles to the brilliant white of the adults.

Gannet Rob Petley Jones 08
3rd year Gannet (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Aside from Gannet, it was good to see a few Fulmar and Kittiwake.

We saw a few gulls on the way but the mass gull spectacular was when we arrived at Dieppe and made our turn in the harbour when there were over a hundred Black-headed and Herring Gull swirling around the stern.

The highlight of our outward trip was spotting a small group of Bottlenose Dolphin, one of which raced across our bow.  We saw them again a few minutes later, on the starboard side to the rear of the ship with a group of expectant Gannet keeping an eye on them. Two leapt from the waves together with another close behind.

BND Peter Howlett 24
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We had a time to explore Dieppe before our return journey.  Steve ventured up to the seamen's church above the harbour where plaques recognise those lost at sea.  Keith headed into the city centre where crowds of locals and visitors enjoying the street markets, the sea front boulevard and the many restaurants and cafes. Both bridges were in action as craft moved into the inner harbours and jetties.

There were fewer birds on our return journey, mostly Gannet and gulls.  The bird highlight was soon after we set off as a group of Common Scoter flew east in front of us, low down and almost skimming the waves.

As always, many thanks to the Captain and his crew for making us welcome.