Poole–Cherbourg

2019-10-11 - Poole–Cherbourg

Survey details

Survey route: Poole–Cherbourg

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-10-11

Number of nights: Day sailing

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A


The ORCA team were invited onto the bridge 45 minutes after leaving Poole Port, the second largest natural harbour in the world, Sydney being the first.


We were prepared for challenging weather with SSW winds of up to 30 mph along with precipitation. Limited visibility due to squalls and fog accompanied by 3-meter wave height made survey conditions more difficult with a maximum of 2k visibility in a sea state 6 much of the way. This was the case on both legs of the voyage. Squalls and fluctuating fog made visibility poor so observing was difficult. Perhaps the most surprising sighting was a little auk on the water just off Port side. The only other bird life we saw along the way were lesser black backed gulls, cormorant, gannets and guillemot.There were no marine mammal sightings on this trip.


Fortunately the rain held off whilst we were on shore exploring Cherbourg.  However, due to being invited onto the bridge 40 minutes after leaving Cherbourg Port at 6pm departure time, dusk meant that we spent 35 minutes on effort before calling it a day due to failing light.


Huge thanks to the Captains and Crew of the Barfleur as well as much appreciation for the volunteer surveyors for committing their time and energy to ORCA.


Survey team members

Cait Cochrane, Mark Evans, Sarah Evans, Chris Wardle

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2019-08-16 - Poole–Cherbourg

Survey details

Survey route: Poole–Cherbourg

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-08-16

Number of nights: Day sailing

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A


POOLE CHERBOURG 16.08.2019


Many thanks to Jasmine for joining us at such short notice due to another surveyor being ill, your support at such short notice is very much appreciated.


The Captain and crew welcomed us onto the Bridge of the Barfleur at Poole Port and we were able to observe the navigation whilst sitting quietly in the red zone. We were soon on effort after passing Old Harry’s Rocks and the Studland Peninsula. We saw terns? Arctic/common, cormorants, oyster catchers and lesser black backed gulls on the way out of the harbour.


The weather was overcast with a Sea State 4 for most of the voyage and a moderate swell. We were expecting strong winds with precipitation.


Other birds that we encountered were greater black backed gulls, herring gulls, gannets both adult and juvenile, guillemots, kittiwake, cory’s shearwater, manx shearwater and a very weary looking wheatear approached the Bridge looking for some respite during the stronger winds en route to Poole. A surveyor also thought they spotted a Balearic shearwater.


We were able to stay on board during our lunch break at Cherbourg, which we were all ready for relaxing in the café.


Half way through the return journey we sailed into a fog bank, shortly before this our only mammal sighting was of grey seal fairly close to the ferry. 


The Sea State felt as though it increased on the return leg of the voyage but the pressure of the fog and hard rain seemed to prevent the occurrence of white caps and crests so that although we had the maximum recorded as 4 it was more likely to have been a 5 or 6 due to the strong winds and currents.


 The team members did a great job in what were becoming increasingly difficult conditions and we would like to thank the Captain and crew members for being so accommodating and including the ORCA survey team on the Bridge of the Barfleur.


Survey team members

Cait Cochrane, Liz Pedley, Liz McDonnell, Jasmine Rennards

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2019-09-20 - Poole–Cherbourg

Survey details

Survey route: Poole–Cherbourg

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-09-20

Number of nights: Day sailing

Sunset over Brownsea Island

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

Outbound:


The team arrived to Poole ferry port in positive spirits, since the sun was already shining and it looked to be a pleasant day ahead. After boarding the Barfleur the team were able to gain access to the bridge around 45 minutes after departure.  


After setting off into the English Channel, the waves and wind largely picked up to a sea state 5, making spotting wildlife tricky. Gannets were the first signs of life, often flying alongside the bridge wings. Despite good visibility, within the first 30 minutes of surveying, the swell picked up to moderate height (1-2m), and white streaks soon littered the sea surface with longer waves producing more frequent spray, building to a sea state 6. Despite no cetaceans being seen on the first leg of the trip, a great skua and a couple of brief terns were spotted on route.


On approach into port the team retired from the bridge to allow for the tug to assist the docking of the Barfleur and ventured out onto the outside decks to enjoy a final burst of summer weather. Looking down the side as the ship manoeuvred into position, some birds were encountered taking advantage of the disturbance, thrusting up silt and prey. Among them were black headed gulls (winter plumage), greater black backed gulls and herring gulls.


The occasional land bird flew over us too including some starlings, a goldfinch and a swallow. Most surprising of all however, was the lightning blue flash of a kingfisher which appeared (we think) from the car decks and circled over the water across the harbour and back onto the car decks below! Not a species the team were expecting to see and definitely the highlight of the trip!


Whilst we were gazing down in hopes of catching a glimpse of the kingfisher again, blue tinted barrel jellyfish were frequently rising and sinking to the surface, again, swirled upwards by the ships’ thrusters.


Return:


After having lunch on board, the team were able to survey almost instantly after leaving Cherbourg’s dockside. We had good views of cormorants and gulls on the zig-zag out of the harbour walls. Unfortunately, the conditions had not improved and were faced once again with a sea state 6 and later on a heavy (2-3 metre) swell. Occasional guillemots were seen resting on the water or flying low across the water in a line, flapping fast through the wind, all in their winter plumage.


Despite the team’s best efforts, the conditions did not allow us to spot any marine mammals on this occasion, but thoroughly enjoyed the trip.


Perhaps due to the turbulent conditions across the Channel, a number of flotsam and jetsam debris were sighted, which is included in the list below. Oystercatchers were seen foraging on the beach as we neared Poole harbour and were treated to a beautiful sunset after leaving the bridge to absorb the views as we sailed past Brownsea island.


We would like to thank Brittany Ferries, the Captain and his crew for welcoming us on board the Barfleur. Thank you to the team for their hard work, vigilance and support, I hope we sail again soon.


Birds Seen:
Gannet, herring gull, great black backed gull, black headed gull, great skua, cormorant, tern species, guillemot, oystercatcher, kingfisher, swallow, starling, goldfinch, pigeon and unidentified passerine


Other animals:
Barrel jellyfish
 
Debris:
Red football, balloon, plastic bags x 2, parcel, silver drinks can, green tray, wooden palette and golf ball

Survey team members

Ruth Coxon, Eleanor Butler, Shelley Abbott, Rachel McCormick

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