Newhaven-Dieppe survey 12 March
Summary of sightings
None seen this survey
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 138
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 22
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 13
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 17
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 23
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 7
Auk sp. 21
Diver sp. 9
Gull sp. Laridae 5
Larus sp. Larus sp. 7
Outbound - wind: W-SW force 6-8, sea state 4-5, visibility moderate with mist
Return - wind: W-SW 4-5, sea state 3, visibility moderate to good
Earlier in the week, the southeast of England had experienced snow and heavy rain. Fortunately, as I was driving down to Newhaven to board the 06:30 sailing to Dieppe, the rain had ceased and the moon was occasionally shining through the cloud that was present.
Once onboard, I was taken up to the bridge and at 6:35 a.m. (two weeks before British Summertime starts) I was surprised to see that the sun was already rising above the Seven Sisters cliffs. The captain, Mattheu Delarue, welcomed me to the bridge, and I set up to begin the survey once the vessel had left shelter of the breakwaters.
The first hour and a half was spent recording Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Guillemot and other auks, the flat colouration of the sea made more distant auks indistinguishable one from the other.
Moving into the central area of the English Channel resulted in more Gannet being evident. Wintering birds such as Red and Black-throated Diver were encountered here, their drab winter plumage again making positive identification more challenging. Also, I recorded a Great Skua patrolling the channel, hoping to intimidate other birds to give up their food, one of three recorded that day.
Once the ship had moored at Dieppe, I remained onboard and enjoyed a hot lunch of beef, ratatouille and potato. I then rested my eyes before the ship returned to Newhaven. The survey resumed at 15:20 and I recorded the same species on the return leg until the daylight failed and I closed the survey and descended into the public area of the vessel to await disembarkation. Sadly no cetaceans were seen, but future surveys may be luckier.
As always MARINElife wish to thank the DFDS shore team and the security staff at Newhaven and captain Mattheu Delarue, his officers and crew of the Seven Sisters for their hospitality. I look forward to working with them once again soon.
Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)