Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 23 April 2013 17:40
When I left Newhaven on Sunday morning to go to France for a couple of hours, I wasn't expecting to get a new species of cetacean on my British list. The first dolphins we saw turned out to be White-beaked Dolphins. This is hugely significant in the English Channel as this species is associated with more northern waters, particularly the North Sea. They were quite large dolphins with obvious pale markings but their most striking feature was the frequency with which they were breaching, sending splashes of water high into the air, almost looking like the blow of a whale. This was my 11th species of cetacean but only my 5th in British and Irish waters. We also saw Bottlenosed Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises.
The trip was arranged by MARINElife as part of a two day course and was well attended. I was impressed by the knowledge of the instructors and I will definitely be signing up to do some volunteer surveys.
Gannets were as ever the most frequent and abundant species. We did see a few nice things too, which included a Bonxie, a couple of Little Gulls, Black-throated Diver and Arctic Tern. It was amazing that we didn't see a single Swallow. Even during the two hours we spent in Dieppe, we didn't see a single one.
A big thank you to Adrian Shephard and Carol Farmer-Wright for organising this course. Thanks also to Adrian for allowing me to use his photo of the White-beaked Dolphins dorsal fin above.