Another variable week concerning both weather and birds. May began wet and windy. NE winds dominated the early part of the week until a strong SW blow brought us a full day of more much needed rain. This week the ringing has focused around Swallow roosts at Longis and Mannez, sightings have included a new bird for Alderney and other sightings include species rarely recorded here.
Firstly, a photo of some passage waders, part of the Godwit and Whimbrel flock on Platte Saline beach the evening of the 28th April
1st – Despite wall to wall rain until 4pm Mark Atkinson had a Cuckoo at Rose Farm and 3 Swifts were seen over Longis pond. After the weather cleared there was a late afternoon opportunity for some ringing at Mannez which produced a variety of migrants including Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Tree Pipit. Justin had 3 Whimbrel in Longis bay and 3 Manx Shearwaters off chateau le l’etoc. Top spot of the day was by Lois Le Lacheur who saw an Osprey over Clonque bay.
2nd – NE Winds overnight and once again no cloud cover. Ringing at Mannez produced a nice variety of migrants again lead by a male Redstart. A further male Redstart was seen on the golf course and mid afternoon two Marsh Harriers passed over the island headed north. A male Serin was singing in Barrackmasters lane and it remained present until at least the 6th. Dartford Warbler was seen at Essex Hill and there were 8 Yellow Wagtails on Longis common.
3rd – A Marsh Harrier was seen over fort Albert. 200+ Swallows over Essex hill. Ringing at Mannez saw a nice variety of migrants which included:White 9, Sedge 4, Redst 1, Leswh 2, Spofl 1, Garwa 1, Blaca 1, Swall 1, Reewa 2, Wilwa 13, Chiff 4 & Piefl 1.
4th – 2 Bar-tailed Godwits on longis beach first thing and a dozen Yellow Wagtails. 15 Wheatears and 1 Whinchat on Longis Common. 15 Yellow Wagtails were reported from fort Albert. During the morning a good passage of Swifts involed over 200 birds over Giffoine over 3 hours, 200+ also reported from Mannez. Today also saw our first major House Martin passage, whilst they have been coming through in dribs and drabs there were around 500 through today. PM and another Golden Oriole (ABO), this one a much duller and greener bird than the one recently ringed so either a female or immature male. The bird flew along the track towards the odeon perching briefly before heading down into Mannez quarry and out of sight. An evening session ringing at Mannez produced a female Redstart and a good roost catch of Swallows and Sand Martins.
5th – A Hooded Crow (ABO) was spotted over the golf course headed south, the bird was relocated about an hour later a Kiln Farm, this is the first one reported on Alderney since 25th April 1973. A very good hirundine and Swift passage again, Paul and Catherine Veron reporting 100 of the latter over Essex Hill. A Spotted Flycatcher in Barrackmasters lane and a single Bar-tailed Godwit on Longis beach. The Little Grebes whose nest has taken centre stage in front of the new hide on Longis reserve is now boasting 3 chicks. Wheatears are still coming through, 3 on Longis Common.
6th – A very wet and windy day saw the visit of a National Geographic journalist to the observatory, the Obs may appear in their publications later in the year. Amidst the rain some 30 Yellow Wagtails were an impressive sight on Longis common. A male Black headed Yellow Wagtail (ABO) stood out even amongst some impressive competitors. I can’t find any previous records for this sub-species ‘feldegg’ for Alderney so potentially a first for us here and I understand only the 2nd record for the Channel Islands. Another good passage of Swifts and House Martins continued throughout the day, one single flock of 60 House Martins over Barrackmaster lane stood out. The evening held more surprises, whilst experience was gained of Swallow roosts by one of our ringing trainees, between net rounds we had 1 Snipe and 1 Water Rail on Longis pond, and passing over, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Black Kite (ABO). Visiting Guernsey birders (details when received) found another rarely recorded species for Alderney, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Barrackmasters Lane.
7th – A Lesser Whitethroat singing at Rose farm. The Alderney Bird club members saw 2 Redshank, 1 Turnstone and 1 Whimbrel at Clonque. There were only a handful of Swifts but a substantial number of House Martins (1000+) and to a lesser extent Swallows and still Sand Martins on passage. A skylark was seen near the airport.