Sightings Archives: April 2018

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Seven Sisters’ Newhaven-Dieppe 14 April 2018

Posted 24 April 2018

Stephen Hedley and Mandy Bright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Outward: Foggy, light winds, sea state 0-2
Return: Cloudy, light winds, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phoceana phoceana 4

Gannet Morus bassanus 63
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 11
Common Scoter Melanitta fusca 9
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibindus 2
Herring Gull Larus argantatus 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 12
Guillemot Uria aalge 15
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp.  2

Terrestrial birds
Curlew Numenius arquata 8
Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 1

We met at the port terminal having both travelled through foggy conditions to Newhaven, and soon afterwards we passed through the official formalities and boarded the Seven Sisters. We checked in at the on-board reception and were taken to the bridge and started our survey on leaving the harbour. The weather was foggy and the visibility was poor throughout the outward stage, but the sea state was calm.

Herring Gull Peter Howlett 03
Herring Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The first sightings were Herring Gull followed by a lone Gannet and Cormorant shortly after leaving the harbour. As we proceeded further sightings were mostly individual Gannet, plus the occasional Kittiwake. Around two and half hours after leaving Newhaven a flock of Curlew flew in line formation across the bow heading northwards. Individual Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were also seen, plus nine Common Scoter flying nearby. Closer to the French coast the sea state dropped to almost dead calm and we spotted three Harbour Porpoise and a few minutes later Mandy saw one further Harbour Porpoise. Our first auk species were seen shortly afterwards and as we made the approach to Dieppe Harbour in the fog we observed four Fulmar resting on the flat water.

We had a pleasant hour in Dieppe and walked into the town for pastries and drinks. Skylark, Linnet, Goldfinch, White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail were seen and heard on the walk by the cliffs.

The visibility substantially improved for the return part of the survey. Cormorant, Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull were seen on leaving the harbour, and further Gannet and Guillemot were also seen. After a further thirty minutes we had our most unusual sighting of the trip with a lone Egyptian Goose flying across the bow!

Great Skua Peter Howlett 10
Great Skua (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

For the rest of the survey our observations were mostly Gannet with occasional Kittiwake and Guillemot.  Our only Great Skua spot of the day was seen more than halfway towards Newhaven, and we ended the survey shortly afterwards having had an enjoyable survey.

We would like to express very warm thanks to Captain Matthieu Delarue and crew for looking after us during the survey.