DFDS Cote d'Albatre Newhaven-Dieppe 10 September
Summary of sightings:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 2
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 15
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 189
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 4
Gull sp. 3
Larus sp. 1
Tern sp. 15
Wader sp. 8
Passerine sp. 10
Outward: overcast with good visibility, wind W-NW 2-3
Return: bright, good visibility with glare at times, wind NW 2-3
We boarded in promising late summer sunshine and were seamlessly ushered to the bridge as if surveying had been completely uninterrupted. There was excellent visibility, no real swell and light wind. Unofficial sightings began with a suspicion of seal just outside Newhaven, but a solitary tern soon appeared followed by a succession of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, and a group of 10 unidentified passerines. Gannets, of all ages, were much in evidence with a series of individuals and small groups flying past and a solo Fulmar added to the variety. As we neared France a Common Tern flanked by more Gannet was a nice surprise.
A little over an hour out of Newhaven a group of four Harbour Porpoises briefly appeared, dorsal fins breaking the surface a few hundred metres ahead of the ship. A short time later two more cetaceans appeared only around a hundred metres off the bow, sadly, too brief a view to be certain of their identification but this close to the ship perhaps unlikely to have been Harbour Porpoise.
Dieppe was hosting its annual kite festival which the freshening breeze really showcased. It was particularly strong on airborne life-size sea life.
The return trip was seen off with Cormorant and gulls from the sea wall and soon a pair of Arctic Skua. Gannets reappeared and a pair and two solo Sandwich Terns. Gannets continued with individuals and small groups and two much larger groups mid-Channel. Here adult and juvenile Gannets were feeding dramatically, however, despite many photos being taken none of the birds had lined themselves up for the money shot – although there are some shots of very significant splashes and small waterspouts available for further research. The sun set rather impressively at a little after seven to round off the survey.
Our thanks to Captain Xavier Fontenit and the officers and crew of the Cote D’Albatre for looking after us whilst on survey.
Mike Mackey and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)