Sightings Archives: January 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Poole-Santander 'Cotentin' 19-21 January 2013

Posted 27 January 2013

Michael Bamford & Steve Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Day 1: NE force 5-6, sea state 6. Visibility poor at start improving later.
Day 2: WNW force 6-7 in am with squall to force 9. Sea state 5-6. Visibility good.
N force 2, backing SW force 4 in pm, intermittent rain. Sea state 3, 2 m swell. Visibility good - poor
Day 3: NNE force 7 dec. 1 in pm. Sea state 7 dec. 1, Swell 3m.+ dec. 0 later. Visibility, moderate, improving.

Pilot Whale Globicephala melas 4
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 3
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 21(+)
Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba 4(+)
Dolphin sp.   5
Common seal Phoca vitulina 2  (one probable)

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 181
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 27
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 16
Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 40
Guillemot Uria aalge 181
Auk sp.   56
Skua sp.  3

Terrestrial Birds
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Blackbird Turdus merula 1
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 1

We boarded the 'Cotentin' with very efficient help from the terminal staff. The trip got off to a good start with the Great Northern and Red-throated Diver seen as we crossed Poole harbour.

Cotentin Survey

Crossing the Channel, in a brisk NE wind, we were treated to three small groups of Common Dolphin coming to the ship's bow. Bird sightings were dominated by Gannet, with surprising numbers of Great Skua, and a very well marked Pomarine Skua.  We also saw a Blackbird and Song Thrush, heading south, evidently deciding the UK cold spell was here to stay.

Waking in the Southern Bay the morning was quiet but we were eventually treated to a small pod of Pilot Whales containing one calf with a characteristically falcate dorsal fin.

In Santander we decided to leave the ship and, rather mistakenly, decided to walk to town - a considerable walk to and from the dock exit, leaving little time to enjoy the warmth of January sun. Back on the ship we had a chance to photograph the Shag and dark-mantled 'intermedius' type Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the Harbour.

Mediterranean gull small

Leaving Santander we were very pleased to see a group of ghostly white Mediterranean Gulls. As the light faded and the breeze got up we saw two groups of dolphins, one of Striped Dolphin, and one with a probable mix of Striped and Common Dolphin.

Rejoining the bridge after rounding Ushant the sea state and swell steadily improved to a virtual flat calm by the time we reached the Dorset coast. In the southern Channel we again saw a number of small groups of Common Dolphin and, nearer Poole, we saw one probable and one definite Common Seal.


Bottlenose dolphin Jan13

The calm seas allowed views of large numbers of Guillemot on the water, many in spring plumage. Just as we were leaving the bridge a final treat was a slow moving group of 3 Bottlenose Dolphin which passed close by the ship just outside the harbour entrance.

Despite the time of year this was a rewarding trip and we would like to thank the master and crew of the 'Cotentin' together with the staff at the Terminal.

Michael Bamford & Steve Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife