MARINElife Survey Report: Poole-Santander 'Cotentin' 17 - 19 September 2011

Simon Hartill and Sean Minns, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 7

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 82
Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea 344
Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis 1235
Little Shearwater Puffinus baroli 8
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 24
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 43
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 8
European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 31
Gannet Morus bassanus 730
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra  2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 44
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 10
Long-Tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 2
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans 22
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 8
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Sabine's Gull Larus sabini 7
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 13
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 1
Black Tern Chlidonias niger  4
Puffin Fratercula arctica  11
Guillemot Uria aalge 1

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita 1

We departed on time at 08:00 from Poole in windy overcast conditions, the forecast was not looking good for cetacean sightings, 30mph winds in the Channel and worse further west!

Good views of the Brownsea Island scrape in Poole harbour from the outside deck, at least 60 Avocets, 15 Little Egrets and what looked like some Spoonbills roosting. Good numbers of terns and waders on the large scrape were also seen. We admired the expensive real estate as we passed Sandbanks, home to the rich and famous!! 

Gannet ad 1


The views from the ship of the Jurassic coastline of Dorset from Old Harry Rocks to Portland are always impressive. Good numbers of gannets and some Storm Petrels were seen in the Channel.

Unfortunately, the sea state got steadily worse as we travelled further west into the Channel.

On Sunday morning we awoke to calmer conditions in southern Biscay but still not great, sea state 3-6.   However, this made for some fantastic close seabird sightings, including some more unusual birds with 1235 Great Shearwaters, 344 Corys, 8 Little Shearwaters, 42 Sooty Shearwaters, some Manx and 8 Balearic Shearwaters seen.

 

Corys Shearwater 2Sooty Shearwater 1

We had 3 hours ashore in the beautiful old city of Santander, unfortunately we had torrential rain halfway walking back to the ship but managed to buy some Spanish Rioja wine, cheese and honey to keep the family back home happy with presents!

Common Dolphin 1


The return journey was similarly good for seabirds but far too rough to see, let alone identify any cetaceans.

Luckily the weather was better in the Channel next day and we managed 7 Common Dolphins that came into the bow. Arriving back into Poole harbour, the Spoonbills on the Brownsea Island scrape were still present, fast asleep as they usually are! 

An excellent trip for rare seabirds, but well below par for cetaceans. This was not unexpected due to the adverse weather conditions.