Dover-Dunkirk survey 24 June
Summary of sightings:
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 21
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 10
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 19
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 533
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 62
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 8
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis 7
Larus sp. 37
I met with Pat and drove down to Dover Port. There was a moderate breeze, but it was dry as we waited to board the Delft Seaways. Once on the ship, we headed to the information desk, completed formalities, and arranged with them to head up to the bridge to survey.
As the ship left Dover breakwater, we encountered around 500 Herring Gulls rafting or flying outside the harbour. The activity made us wonder if any Harbour Porpoise were among the birds, however, no fins were seen.
Sightings after that were steady, with Gannet, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull recorded in the main strait, with one sighting of 21 Common Scoter flying past.
A solitary Harbour Seal was recorded as we neared the French Coast, gnawing on a Cuttlefish bone. (Apologies to any budgerigars reading this!)
As we travelled parallel to the French Coast, Mediterranean Gulls, Sandwich and Common Terns were evident. The terns nest in the sand dunes between Calais and Dunkirk and can be seen bringing sandeels back to the beach after their fishing expeditions.
We arrived at Dunkirk and rested while the crew effected the turnaround. In Dunkirk a barrier has been erected to discourage migrants from launching boats in an attempt to enter the UK.
Less than ninety minutes later, we left Dunkirk and watched Great Crested Grebe (off transect) swimming within the harbour.
Terns, Herring Gull, Kittiwake and Black-backed gull of both species were recorded on our return to England.
We would like to thank DFDS, the Captain, Officers and crew of the Delft Seaways for their help in making the survey possible and enjoyable.
Carol Farmer-Wright and Pat Hatch, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Outbound: wind S-WNW 4, sea state 2-4, dry, visibility moderate to good with occasional glare
Return: wind WNW-WSW 4, sea state 3, dry, visibility good to moderate with continual glare