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Newhaven-Dieppe survey 10 March

This was my first MARINElife survey and it was a good one at that. Both the southbound and northbound crossings were smooth with the outward journey having cloudy skies with intermittent rain, but a relatively calm sea state. This helped in spotting cetaceans, but the light made distant bird identification a little tricky. The majority of the morning was dominated by Gannets, gulls and auks, including Gannets and great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying alongside the ship.

Within the first hour, a Harbour Porpoise popped up near the starboard side of the ship, but better views were to come. In the meantime, we were treated with views of a Fulmar shearing ahead of the ship. It was then later in the outward journey, approximately halfway across to Dieppe, that three more Harbour Porpoise were seen in quick succession. Red-throated Divers were also seen in good numbers and a flock of six Common Scoter were seen during the morning’s survey. The interest was not just sea based, as a Pied Wagtail landed on the ship and two other passerines were spotted in flight by Carol, which were later deduced to be Great Tits.

Dieppe marina (Ptolemy McKinnon)

In view of the French coast and sightings becoming few and far between, the grey sky was a little brighter than on leaving British soil. Carol stayed on the ship while I took a walk into Dieppe. It gave me the opportunity to explore this nice coastal town and practice speaking French, which I had not managed to put into use much since I was last in France in 2018. The centre of Dieppe is lovely with classic French architecture. This was complimented with a baguette for lunch with a vista of the main church, Église Saint-Jacques de Dieppe.

The weather had been dry for the time on French soil and, back on the ship, it was time for the final survey session still with no rain, but continuing cloudy skies and a few white caps on the sea. Gannets, gulls and auks dominated the records as they had done on the outward journey, but Carol had mentioned one particular species she hoped to see on the return trip. Fortunately, this wish came true when both of us noticed a Great Skua crossing the path in front of the Seven Sisters.

Sunset (Ptolemy McKinnon)

With four minutes remaining of daylight, the sun broke through the clouds, providing a lovely sunset as we finished observations. It was a very enjoyable day and many thanks to Carol for her company and mentorship, plus thanks to the crew of the Seven Sisters who were very welcoming and friendly.

Ptolemy McKinnon and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Outward – wind E veering S force 3 to 4, intermittent rain, and moderate to good visibility

Return – wind WSW to W, force 4 to 5, dry, cloudy except final four minutes of survey when sun appeared, good to moderate visibility as light died

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals            

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4



Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 6

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2

Gannet Morus bassanus 108

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 19

Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1

Guillemot Uria aalge 11

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 15

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7

Razorbill Alca torda 8

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 6

Auk sp. 14

Diver sp. 7

Gull sp. 1

Larus sp. 8


Terrestrial birds 

Passerine sp. 2

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii 1

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