Newhaven-Dieppe 12 February
Summary of sightings:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 18
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 503
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 339
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 32
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 7
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Razorbill Alca torda 16
Diver sp. 10
Gull sp. 11
Auk sp. 77
Outward – wind SE-E, clear, good visibility with short spell of light mist
Return – wind SE clear, good visibility
We arrived at Newhaven port early as the sun rose, ready for the survey with the weather looking good for a pleasant crossing.
We boarded and were warmly welcomed onto the bridge by the crew who advised they had seen a pod of dolphins the day before and hoped that we would spot them again.
Cormorant, Gannet and various gulls greeted us as we began the survey. A graceful Kittiwake made an appearance as we moved further into the Channel and sightings of several auk species in the distance meant we had a good range of birdlife early on in our morning.
The first cetacean of the day was also spotted at this early stage. A slowly rolling dorsal fin was spotted briefly before disappearing again. We recorded this single harbour porpoise and hoped it was a good sign for the rest of the survey.
We continued to see Gannet and gulls including a large number around a fishing vessel. This group numbered at least 600 individuals who were all circling and feeding around the boat. A Black-throated Diver added to the diversity of species we were recording.
As we neared Dieppe, splashes some distance away caught our attention. On closer inspection we were able to identify six Common Dolphin moving quickly through the water. These were possibly the same group seen by the crew the day before and they were glad that we had been able to spot them. Not long after that, a brief sighting of a Bottlenose Dolphin meant that we had seen three species of cetacean on the crossing.
Our early start meant that we had time for a stroll into Dieppe which was quiet on a sunny Sunday. On the walk back to the port, the swing bridge that divides the town from the port had swung open to allow a large vessel through. As there is no way around, waiting patiently was the only option and one boat came through. It was clear that another vessel was due as the bridge remained open. After a few more minutes a very large ship moved towards the gap to pass up the river. Its cargo was rotor blades for, presumably, wind turbines. Seeing them up close certainly gave a sense of perspective to the size of the turbines.
Our return survey was a little shorter due to sunset meaning that we lost available light. We did record further Black-throated Diver, Gannet and Fulmar as well as a Grey Seal not far outside of Dieppe. As the light faded, we thanked the Captain and crew of Seven Sisters for their hospitality and interest in our work.
Carol Farmer-Wright and Mandy Bright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)