Unseasonal S & SE blows brought in some interesting bird records ahead of some NE winds that brought in our first influxes of winter thrushes and finches. The strong winds restricted the bird ringing for several days but gave the Obs team and its visiting guests opportunity to enjoy some first class autumn migration birding. The period since the last blog has seen 1 and possibly 2 new species of birds found never before recorded on this island. Ringing has been very busy with over 500 birds ringed over the last 4 days.

A single Manx Shearwater was seen off chateau L’etoc on the 11th, The Great White Egret first seen on the 8th was seen daily until the 11th, on each occasion flying over the observatory towards dusk. 7 Brent Geese passed Mannez lighthouse on the 18th and a single further bird was in Longis bay on the 20th. 2 Wigeon were on Longis pond on the 11th and possibly a 3rd birds was seen along the NE coast the same day. A Honey Buzzard was harassed by one of our local pairs of Common Buzzards over Whitegates fields on the 10th. Merlin has been seen on the 10th,12th & 16th, on the latter date one came in over Longis pond and took a Swallow in the air before going to bed on a full stomach. A Knot (first of the year) and Curlew Sandpiper were together at the wader roost NE end of Longis bay on the 10th. A single Bar-tailed Godwit has been present in Longis bay 17th-20th, our last Whimbrel record was one at Chateau L’etoc 11th. Peak Mediterranean Gull count was 11 at Braye bay on the 13th. 4 Sandwich Terns were off Huome Herbe 16th. On the 11th Assistant warden Justin and the visiting resident birders/ringers picked up a Swift species over the observatory and Essex Hill. The bird subsequently stayed in the same area for over an hour and visitor Paul James managed some half decent shots of it despite the 30mph winds. One of Pauls shots is below, after some deliberation the bird is being submitted as a Pallid Swift, which if accepted by the rare birds committee would be a first for Alderney. Interestingly over a 3 day period incorporating our date, 3 more potential sighting of this rare bird were made in Sussex, Kent and in Guernsey. Kingfisher has been seen along the NE coastline 13th,16th & 17th. Swallows and House Martins are still passing through with around 120 of the former roosting at Longis on the 16th and on the same day 60 of the latter of Alderney golf course. Only the 2nd record for Alderney of Tawny Pipit was found at Whitegates fields on the 10th, the bird, a very fine adult did not hang around more than 20 minutes. An influx of Meadow Pipits on the 18th consisted of around 140 birds. Regular reports of migrant Grey Wagtails have come from across the island and up to 25 White Wagtails have been roosting in Longis reedbed. Over 50 Robins were ringed 17th-20th, Wheatears are still being recorded along the NE coastline with records on the 1th,12th,13th 16th(2) and 20th. Our first large Fieldfare movements were on the 20th with individual flocks of 60+ and some 500 birds island wide. Redwing have been arriving in good numbers and over 200 ringed 15th-20th. 2 Mistle Thrushes were spotted on the 16th.  11th-18th  6 Cetti’s Warbler were ringed at Longis(4), Mannez(2). A Fan-tailed Warbler, likely another result of the strong south winds and warm weather, showed well at Telegraph on the 10th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was ringed at Rose Farm on the 19th. The first Goldcrest have been arriving the last few days and 14 Firecrests ringed since the 10th. Starling are moving in large numbers and good migrating Chaffinch numbers peaked at around 800 on the 18th. Passage Goldfinches numbers have also been good and 140 ringed these last 3 days. 15 Siskin were at Rose farm on the 15th. Capping off an exciting period of birding I had flights views only of what I felt was a Little Bunting on the evening of the 15th, only for Justin to find a Little Bunting near the target wall on the morning of the 16th. Probably the same bird was later at Mannez quarry. Reed Bunting, a surprisingly unusual bird here historically, have been present with 1 to 2 at Longis and up to 3 at Mannez between the 16th and 20th.

Late butterfly records include a Painted Lady and 3 Clouded Yellow on the 10th.

Thanks to visiting birding/ringing team Paul, Sue, Pippa, Lloyd and Rackie staying at the newly refurbished observatory,  for your records and enthusiasm.


Dunlin (1st winter) Saye Bay – photo: Paul James


Pallid Swift (we think)- Over Alderney bird observatory Longis Bay, photo Paul James



Visiting birders and ringers watching Curlew Sandpiper and Great White Egret from the observatory Roman ramparts.