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Dover-Calais 19 November 2022

Summary of sightings

Seabirds

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3

Common Gull Larus canus 9

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 38

Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla 43

Gannet Morus bassanus 109

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 22

Guillemot Uria aalge 3

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 30

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 65

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 12

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2

Razorbill Alca torda 15

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1

Auk sp. 2


Weather

Outbound: cloudy with varying density resulting in muted glare occasionally. Sea state 2-4, wind W-NW force 4-5

Return: cloudy with moderate swell. Sea state 4-3, wind W-NW force 6-5.


As with last week’s DFDS survey, from Dover to Dunkirk, the weather as we headed from Dover to Calais was exceptionally good with minimal swell and pretty good visibility on the way out and back. The return leg of the trip had quite a high wind, but spotting was still possible. As usual on this route at this time of year we had an array of gulls. These included Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull.

Cormorant flock (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

It was quite a surprise to see a large skein of Dark-bellied Brent Geese leaving the French coast as we approached Calais and heading across open water towards England. Normally, they’ve arrived at their final overwintering site in the UK by October, so they have left it a little late this year. The explanation is possibly that they were planning on short stopping in France and decided that the weather was going to close in, so they would do the final push to their usual overwintering ground somewhere near Pagham. There was also a large flight of Cormorant flying parallel with the beach as we approached Calais, it’s unusual to see such a large group which in this case consisted of thirty-five individuals.


The survey is always done taking into consideration scientific guidelines to ensure that each survey is comparable. Unfortunately, this means we can’t include counts of the seals who pull up on the beach within the breakwaters of the port of Calais. However, there were fourteen common seals present and it is always good to see them.

Harbour Seals in Calais (Carol Farmer-Wright)

Thanks, as always, to the Commandant, Officers and the staff of DFDS ferries for allowing us bridge access to conduct our surveys. We received an especially warm welcome from the Cote des Flandres. It is a privilege to be able to work from such a good surveying position. MARINElife looks forward to joining them again soon on our next cross-channel bird and cetacean survey.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Julie Ackroyd, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

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