Another very busy period of recording through ringing, our daily census and island wide birding produced its share of exciting records and several ringing days involving over 100 birds. Some excellent and important records thrown up by the bird ringing also came in this week; news of a Blackbird first ringed at Longis reserve Alderney in November 2016 was re-trapped by bird ringers in Hallenberg Germany 24th October 2018. A Blackcap first ringed here at Essex farm in May 2016 was found by ringers at Portland Bill Dorset in April this year. Also this week our local ringing produced a French ringed Dunnock (a species rarely recorded as migratory) and a Goldfinch first ringed in the UK (further details are awaited concerning both birds from their respective ringing schemes). These latest records continue to solidly evidence the importance of Alderney as a stopover for birds during migration.

8 Brent Geese passed Chateau L’etoc on the 28th, there were two along the NE coastline on the 29th and a single bird on the 31st. A single Shelduck was on Longis pond 29th & 30th. Teal at the same location peaking at 3 on the 28th. There was a Marsh Harrier over Longis reserve on the 27th and on the 30th a superb Rough Legged Buzzard showed very well along the NE coast where it was photographed on one of the cottages near to the lighthouse. The bird favoured the chimney pot (see below photo) from which it kept dropping down into the cottage back garden then back up onto the building roof again. This was the first record for our new observatory,  last recorded in Alderney in 2009.

Rough-legged Buzzard – Mannez – Photos – John Horton/ABO

Merlin was seen at the Giffoine 28th and Barrackmasters Lane 29th. A high count of Oystercatchers at high tide in Clonque Bay was 142 birds. 3 Grey Plovers were in Saye bay 31st. A flock of 18 Lapwings were in the fields towards Vallee des Trois Vaux on the 28th. Snipe numbers reached 8 on Longis pond on the 25th and two Woodcocks were put up whilst the ringing nets were opened at Mannez on the 29th. The last Bar-tailed Godwit record was one at Longis bay on the 22nd and the high count of Curlews was 32 at Clonque Bay on the 28th. Sea watches brought us a record of Great Skua on the 27th and 3 more on the 28th. Mediterranean Gull numbers suggest up to 30 Individuals are present between Houme Herbe and Clonque. A single Lesser black backed Gull was between Clonque and Crabby bays 27th & 28th. An impressive 166 Herring Gulls were grounded in Clonque bay in the hard weather on the 28th. Kittiwakes 27th(31) & 28th(22) were seen off Chateau a l’Etoc. There are still one or two Sandwich Terns about the coastline. Surprised and delighted islander and trainee bird ringer Heike Peck had a Short eared Owl drop into her back garden which she promptly photographed with her phone ! (see below).

Short eared Owl – St.Annes – photo Heike Peck

Between the 29th & 31st 6 Woodlarks have been spotted passing over on migration. A big influx of various migrant songbirds included 100+ Skylarks on the 28th. Grey Wagtails were still being reported in one’s and two’s island wide until the 25th, the latest record one at Essex sewage works on the 30th.  4 Black Redstarts have been reported including 2 together on Mannez lighthouse wall on the 25th. There was an island wide influx of Blackbirds on the 30th along with good numbers of Song Thrushes. Redwing and Fieldfare flocks have been evident, 101 Redwings were ringed at Mannez on the 29th. Cetti’s Warblers appear to be settling in for the winter for the first time ever here in Alderney, likely down to the extended area of Lesser Reedmace covering Mannez reserve.

Mannez nature reserve at first light this week; a blanket of undisturbed Lesser Reedmace providing, security, warmth, shelter and a wealth of food for numerous migrant birds. Photo JH/ABO

Other unusual warbler records involved a probable migrant Dartford Warbler ringed at Mannez reserve 25th.

Dartford Warbler – Mannez reserve – Photo JH/ABO

The following day a very late moving Lesser Whitethroat ringed at Essex farm adjacent to the observatory. Single Yellow-browed Warblers were spotted at different locations on the 25th, 26th, 29th & 30th, the former ringed at Essex farm.

Yellow Browed Warbler – Essex farm – photo JH/ABO

Goldcrest numbers have increased towards the month end along with Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Starlings in many hundreds. Brambling records are starting to come in with 3 feeding amongst Chaffinches in St. Annes on the 28th and single birds from various locations reported daily for the last 3 days of the month. A female Bullfinch was ringed at Mannez on the 22nd and Reed Bunting records for this last reporting period of October have involved at least 5 individuals.