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Dover-Calais survey 15 April

Summary of sightings:


Common Gull Larus canus 2

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 17

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10

Guillemot Uria aalge 4

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 58

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15

Razorbill Alca torda 4

Larus sp. Larus sp. 6

Wader sp. Wader 30


Outward: sea state 2-4, visibility moderate to good

Return: sea state 3, visibility moderate

After boarding the Cote d’Opale, we were quickly shown to the bridge and welcomed by the Captain and bridge crew. It was a beautiful, sunny day and viewing conditions appeared reasonable as we emerged from the harbour. Some glare to starboard did not hamper us, although the wind speed and sea state increased as we crossed the Dover Straits, reducing our chances of spotting cetaceans at distance.

Razorbill (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Bird numbers were low on the first half of the outward journey, with occasional Herring Gull and Gannet, single Common Gull and Fulmar and a lone Razorbill resting on the water. Numbers then picked up, with Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake added to the species list, the latter being the most numerous during a flurry of activity as we neared Calais.

Several adult and young Common Seals lay hauled out on the shore near the port entrance.

On the return crossing to Dover, the sea state remained more or less constant.

Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The pattern of sightings was repeated in reverse, with Kittiwakes and other gulls in the ascendency at first, numbers of Gannets peaking around mid-channel and numbers in general falling markedly from then onwards. A distant mid-channel flock of small waders evaded positive identification but our rather modest species list was enhanced somewhat by two Cormorants and two pairs of Guillemot.

Overall, numbers of birds were noticeably low, but a highlight of the survey was the opportunity to compare the plumage of various ages of juvenile and immature gulls and Gannets.

We would like to thank the Captain of the Cote d’Opale, his bridge officers and crew for their hospitality.

Pat Hatch and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research surveyors for MARINElife (registered charity no.: 1110884, reg. company no.: 5057367)

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