Survey Reports

2019-03-23 - Poole–Cherbourg

Survey details

Survey route: Poole–Cherbourg

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-03-23

Number of nights: Day sailing

Old Harry's Rocks at dawn on returning to Poole

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

Having met at Poole terminal for the first ferry survey of the year, the team boarded the MV Balfleur and were soon escorted to the bridge and greeted by the captain who eagerly informed us that 4 dolphins had been spotted near Cherbourg the previous day. 

Although very misty, due to the lack of wind, this meant that the sea state and swell were excellent for surveying.  

As we sailed past Brownsea Island large numbers of geese, ducks and waders could be seen and on entering the channel we started the survey with a sea state 1 and no swell. Although visibility was limited for the entire journey to 1-5 kilometers and little glare, it was good enough in the channel for any species we might encounter. 

Eventually, within sight of land at Cherbourg the call of sighting, a solitary common dolphin surfaced twice about 250 m. Starboard side, a great result for the team. 

Delighted we disembarked into Cherbourg. 

As the ship was not sailing until 22:15, we had 7 hours in Cherbourg, long enough for two of the team to have plenty of time to view Cité de la Mer, the maritime museum, which normally takes all day to peruse. 

I would like to thank the hardworking team for all for their efforts and special thanks must go to Brittany Ferries for allowing us this opportunity and to all the staff and crew who went out of their way to make this survey so enjoyable, especially Captain Jérome Besson and his crew and special thanks to Aurore the head receptionist for all her help and kindness. 

What a great start to the season, hoping this season continues with good conditions and great sightings. 


1x Common dolphin 

There was a lack of birds at seabut those seen, including those in Poole Harbour (Brownsea island) include:- 

Seen from ship:

Oystercatcher, cormorant, gannet, common scoter, guillemot, Black-headed gull, brent geese, Black tailed godwit, shellduck, mallard, avocet, wood pigeon, carrion crow, numerous returning LbJ’sand an unidentified raptor being mobbed.

Seen in Cherbourg:

Cormorant, greater black-backed gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, mallard, starling, carrion crow, Blackbird, Blue tit, robin, dunnock, Wood and feral pigeon also a willow warbler heard but not seen. 

Survey team members

Mary Hill, Sue Flanagan, Emmelia Sweetland and Jason White