Dover-Calais survey 17 May DFDS 'Cote d'Opale'
Summary of sightings:
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 42
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Gull sp. 5
Auk sp. 3
Tern sp. 13
Outward journey – excellent visibility with slight glare from starboard, minimal cloud cover (~10%), sea state very calm from 1-2
Inbound journey – excellent visibility again with slight glare from port side, minimal cloud cover (~10%), sea state calm but slightly more movement around 2 the entire time
Our trip started in Dover and within about 20 minutes of arriving we had passed through the border checks and were waiting for the ferry, just enough time for a coffee before boarding. Once on board, we were escorted to the bridge by a very friendly crew member and briefly had some introductions with the captain.
It was a beautiful day and we could already see various seabird species before leaving, this gave us a chance to focus our binoculars and for me to go through the survey sheets before starting, as well as being shown how to find information such as ship course and speed, and latitude and longitude.
Pretty soon after leaving the Port of Dover we could spot various seabirds, lots of Kittiwake, Herring Gull and Black-headed Gulls. We also spotted a couple of Fulmar and numerous terns and auks - sadly too distant to enable identification. We did also spot two pieces of flotsam which we identified as a polystyrene float and a metal bottle.
Once berthed in the new Calais port area, we had time to go through a few bird species in the port and meet the new crew before heading back to Dover. On the return journey, we also spotted many different seabirds, the most common of these seemed to be Kittiwake and Herring Gull, and a couple of larger groups which I thought was exciting. We also spotted one more piece of flotsam which seemed to be some sort of ice cream wrapper.
The weather and visibility were excellent, and the crossing itself was very smooth and pleasant. Unfortunately, we did not see any cetaceans, but the chance to do my first survey and learn so much about seabirds more than made up for this.
I would like to thank Carol for helping me with identification of seabirds and answering all my questions about surveying, and for generally making this a great experience. Also, a massive thank you to the friendly crew of Cote d’Opale who were very helpful.
Daniel Hendy and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)