Poole-Santander

Sightings Archives: April 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Poole-Santander 'Cotentin' 21 - 23 April 2012

Posted 25 April 2012

Adrian Shephard and Philip Dutt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Southbound: W-NW 2-6; Northbound: NW 5-2

Cetacean Recorded
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis  337
Striped Dolphin Stenella Coeruleoalba 19
Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus 2
Unidentified Dolphin species 20
Unidentified Large Rorqual Whale 2
Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Dead) Ziphius cavirostris 1

Seabirds Recorded
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 32
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 30
Gannet Morus bassanus 258
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 25
Long-Tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 1
Yellow-Legged Gull Larus michahellis 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 12
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Little Gull Larus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 21
Little Tern Sterna albifrons  33
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 219
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Unidentified Auk Species 3
Unidentified large Gull Species 59

Terrestrial Birds
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 4
House Martin Delichon urbicum 4
Sand Martin Riparia riparia 23
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava 1

After a warm welcome from the port team in Poole, we headed aboard the Cotentin for the crossing with a forecast of North Westerly winds force 5 - 6 for most of the crossing.

Sporadic sightings of Kittiwakes, Guillemots greeted us as we headed up the Channel before a largish feeding group of Gannets alerted us to a distant group of feeding dolphins. 

Manx Shearwaters flockSightings slowed as the wind increased and for the rest of the day we saw the occasional Manx Shearwater and Gannets. A single Little Gull made a welcome appearance before we turned the corner of France and headed into Northern Biscay where we encounter 3 small groups of Little Terns heading north.

We were on the bridge for 6am on day 2, but the whitecaps were still with us making viewing conditions less than perfect. A welcome croissant from the bridge team and a fleeting glimpse of a small group of Striped dolphin including a very small calf coming into bow ride brightened our morning which was followed a while later by a similar sized group of Common Dolphin. We docked in Santander and got some rest before departing for the trip back.

Striped Dolphin 2We were on the bridge for 6am on day 2, but the whitecaps were still with us making viewing conditions less than perfect. A welcome croissant from the bridge team and a fleeting glimpse of a small group of Striped dolphin including a very small calf coming into bow ride brightened our morning which was followed a while later by a similar sized group of Common Dolphin. We docked in Santander and got some rest before departing for the trip back.

We headed out of the pretty port of Santander and back into a north westerly wind, but this gradually eased back as the afternoon progressed. As we entered deeper waters, we started encountering small groups of Common Dolphins racing into bow ride the ship, delighting us and the crew. Further groups followed including one group with at least one Striped Dolphin. A single large Rorqual whale blow was seen, but no body observed to give a positive identification.

Starting again at 6am, some of the overnight swell had sub-sided, but we still faced a many whitecaps. An early group of 3 Common Dolphin coming into bow ride was later followed by several passages of Swallows and 'Commic' Terns. Mid-morning, Philip picked up an animal moving sub-surface towards the ship which was shortly followed by a second animal. This second animal surfaced revealing the white and grey scarred body of a Risso's Dolphin.

The remainder of the trip saw several Great Skua's amongst other seabirds and a Yellow Wagtail hitching a ride on the bow.

As we neared Poole, we thanked the bridge team who are always very welcoming, and later left the ship and headed for home.

Adrian Shephard and Philip Dutt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife