MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways: ‘Cote d’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 14 October 2017

Keith Morgan and Mandy Bright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Dry and varied cloud cover, visibility variable, sea state 0

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 53
Herring Gull Larus argantatus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Shearwater sp. 1
Gull sp. 15
Auk sp. 2

We arrived at Newhaven in sunshine and with a good weather forecast we were looking forward to a great survey.  We boarded the Cote d'Albatre and headed to the bridge once we were out of the harbour, and after a very warm welcome by the captain and his crew we began our survey.

Gannet Peter Howlett 08
Adult Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We were soon treated to several Gannet very close to the boat which gave us the opportunity to examine these graceful birds in some detail.  They remained the main species we saw for much of the crossing with most in their adult plumage and just a few juveniles.

A couple of hours into the crossing we did have a sighting of a lone shearwater in between the gannet and the gulls.  There were long gaps between the sightings in the middle of the Channel, and then as we approached Dieppe we found ourselves in very thick fog with visibility dropping to about 20 metres.  We were able to continue surveying birds very close to the boat and were also able to observe the clearly well-practiced crew taking additional precautions in the low visibility.

Gannet Peter Howlett 12
Juvenile Gannet (Library photo: Petr Howlett)

We disembarked in Dieppe and strolled into town, where the fog lifted for the moment and the weather was pleasantly warm.  We found time to visit a patisserie for refreshment as well as a stroll around the Saturday market and the delis.

Back at the ship we made our way back to the bridge, to find the fog had descended again and we were doubtful as to how much we would see before darkness prevented us surveying.   As it was, slight problems at the port delayed our departure and it was dark by the time we sailed out of the harbour.  We thanked the captain and crew for their hospitality and returned to the main part of the ship to enjoy the remainder of the crossing.