The T.A.G. project is now in its third year, using GPS tags to transmit live data on the Ortac Gannets’ foraging habits. The data will help AWT and the ABO to learn more about the health of Alderney’s waters and to advise on planned developments in the Channel. This year we will be deploying 12 of these tags.
New this year are 10 geolocators. These smaller tags do not transmit live but last up to 2 years, giving us a better picture of where the gannets go on migration and if colonial groups migrate and then stay together over winter. Projects like this are necessary with any migratory species as conservation groups work together to protect species over their whole range. Each geolocator is £100 and we have some still available for sponsorship.
You can read more about the project at www.teachingthroughnature.co.uk/t-a-g
Over a week after we had intended (due to poor sea conditions) we completed our first seabird ringing trip of the year, this one to Coque Lihou. Most auk chicks appeared to have fledged as we found plenty of evidence of auk egg shells from which chicks had hatched. It occurs to me you may just read the last and be thinking ‘how can he tell they had hatched ok’. Well some years ago as a zoo curator I lectured on and ran courses in avian artificial incubation techniques, and I remain an anorak on the subject ! We did manage to ring 2 Guillemots and 2 Razorbills but this total is well down on last year (16 & 7). However, our later than anticipated expedition did present the opportunity to ring a lot more Shags, some 21 against 9 last year. We also came across 3 Great-black backed Gull chicks but they were too young to be ringed. So next year we will schedule this trip for late May to focus our research on the auk colony. We were also lucky enough to obtain magnificent views of around 20 Bottlenose Dolphins passing very close by Coque Lihou. Thanks to all of the ringing team, your input ensured an incident free job well done. And thanks to AWT manager Roland Gauvain and ‘Bugsey’ for getting us to and fro safely. From the boat we saw in excess of 100 Guillemots and 100 Razorbills rafting on the sea, also a couple of Manx Shearwaters and our first Balearic Shearwater of the year.
The end of the day saw the latest group Naturetrek arrive. Alderney is gathering pace and attention as being a first class destination for specialist wildlife tour groups. The across the board variety of wildlife on Alderney really is terrific and wildlife tourism a very welcome boost to the island economy. This will be the third Naturetrek tour I have led here this year with two more to come in the autumn. This latest one is the first ever summer wildlife tour !
20th, David Child reports seeing a pair of Dartford Warblers at the south end of the airfield.
21st , Justin had a Hobby over Telegraph. Naturetrek had 14 Curlew and a very unseasonal record of Lapwing in Clonque bay at high tide, an adult Mediterranean Gull and 2 Swifts over Braye bay, and a sub adult Yellow legged Gull on Crabby beach.
22nd, A male Black Redstart in the Obs garden. The Naturetrek boat trip saw at close quarters a variety of our breeding seabirds including 200+Puffins. Also Peregrine, Kittiwake, Common Tern and an Adult Yellow legged Herring Gull which was sat on the lower rocks of the Les Etacs Gannet colony.
A brief summary of the tour group: 63 species of birds included Puffins,the highlight of the tour for many, but also 2 Yellow Legged Gulls which were a new species for most. 15 Species of Butterfly (many in abundance) but 20+ Glanville Fritillary. For those targeting flora some 107 species of wild flowers included such rarities as Hairy Birds foot Trefoil and Alderney Sea Lavender along with numerous Pyramidal Orchids. The ever popular Blonde Hedgehogs played their usual starring role. An incredible 84 species of moths included Kent Black Arches and several Hawk moth species (20+ Hummingbird Hawkmoths) and Tiger moth species. Other wildlife recorded on this trip saw some unexpected and exciting additions, in particular Scilly Bee and a Sun Fish !