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Newhaven-Dieppe survey 12 March DFDS 'Seven Sisters'

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Outbound – sunny, good visibility with glare at times, wind S force 6 decreasing 3

Return – Dry, good visibility, wind S force 1 increasing 4

Summary of sightings


Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1

Common Gull Larus canus 3

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 50

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1

Guillemot Uria aalge 4

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 7

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1

Auk sp. 11

Gull sp. 1

Larus sp. 1

I joined the ship with the other foot passengers and made my way to the bridge, when permitted, to begin the survey. Sunshine was streaming in through the bridge windows, the subsequent glare making bird identification challenging at times.

As we headed south, I recorded Gannet, Kittiwake, Common Gull, and Herring Gull. The adult Gannet seen were transitioning from their winter plumage into their summer colours. Their heads, due to turn a beautiful gold colour in the summer, were instead a muted yellow.

white bird flying
Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

A two-metre southerly swell was encountered on the north side of the English Channel but this reduced in height as we approached the French coast. A few auk species were seen as the ship approached Dieppe harbour and a single European Shag flew past before we docked.

Rather than venturing into Dieppe, I remained at the newly refurbished passenger terminal to input the data I’d collected, before re-joining the vessel back to England. The ship leaves Dieppe at 17:00 GMT giving me less than one hour of daylight to record sightings on the return journey.

white and grey bird (gull) flying
Common Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The sea was calm, the French coast providing shelter from the southerly wind. Despite favourable conditions, no cetaceans appeared in the time before the twilight closed the survey down. I left the bridge having thanked the officers and crew and went down to have a meal in the restaurant. I wish to thank Captain Conquet, DFDS and Transmanche Ferries for allowing us to return to surveying across the English Channel once again.

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