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Dover-Dunkirk survey 24 June

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals

Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 1


Seabirds

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

Tern sp.10


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.

Kittiwake (Carol Farmer-Wright)

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.

Common Tern (Carol Farmer-Wright)

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)


Weather

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

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