Adrian Shepherd and Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Light wind, sea state calm, intermittent rain, extensive cloud cover
Summary of sightings:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 15
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Auk sp. Alcidae 3
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 9
Gannet Morus bassanus 239
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 81
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 28
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 17
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
The ferry departed in the kind of spring weather that felt like it could brighten into summer or slip back into winter and while it remained overcast and occasionally rainy the sea state was ideal and there were some excellent sightings.
There were large groups of gulls from the outset with some small groups of Guillemot and numbers of Kittiwake and Fulmar.
Fishing trawler (Adrian Shephard)
There were fishing vessels at work throughout the crossing and these were attracting a large following, particularly gannets of a wide age range, second and third year juveniles to adults, a single arctic skua and three arctic skuas were also seen.
The first mammal sightings were in mid-channel as we crossed paths with sister ship 'Seven Sisters' with a Grey Seal followed by a flurry of Harbour Porpoise sightings, several small groups of two or three appearing in succession, initially sighted at some distance, heading towards the ferry and veering off at the bow.
Seven Sisters (Adrian Shephard)
Approaching the French coast Cormorant and Shag appeared outside Dieppe harbour.
Cormorant and Shag (Adrian Shephard)
The early sailing time allowed a leisurely break in Dieppe although the rain resumed in the afternoon.
The return trip again saw large numbers of Gannet, Kittiwake and a single Shag. Another Grey Seal was spotted mid-channel, apparently contesting some gulls for surplus fishing catch.
Gannet (Adrian Shephard)
Harbour Porpoise re-appeared in a pair and trio and three Common Dolphin surfaced just off the bow. The longer daylight hours allowed the survey to continue right up to Newhaven with final groups of gulls clustering near the harbour.
Thanks as always to the captain and crew of the Cote d'Albatre and DFDS for their enthusiastic help in making these surveys possible.