An itinerary packed week was dominated by seabird ringing but also held a few surprises !

The island is awash with butterflies and wild flowers, Pyramidal orchids in particular have done very well this year and baby hedgehogs are now out and about. The week focused on 3 separate seabird ringing operations but between times some unusual migrant birds dropped in.

Pyramidal Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid, Targets – Photo – Trevor Doleman

3rd,  Our Gannet ringing team headed out to Ortac to begin this years Geo/satellite tagging of adult Gannets following the enormous success of this same project last year. We were accompanied by a French TV documentary team following the exploits of one of Alderneys French residents; Anne- Isabelle Boulon who happens to be one of the ABO trainee ringers. After a good start, about an hour in some not forecast scrawls of rain were upon us and we had to retreat as the rock quickly became too slippery to safely continue on.  4 Tags were fitted to Gannets with the rest set to be deployed this coming weekend.  We had 5 Kittiwake and 7 Manx Shearwaters from the boat on our return. In the afternoon a pair of Peregrines were teaching a recently fledged chick some aerial acrobatics over the Giffione.


4th, The annual Les Etacs Gannet Ringing program (not for the faint hearted). A job well done by led by Chris Mourant with Phil Atkinson, Justin Hart, Jason Moss and Oliver Padget. Some 310 Gannet chicks were ringed during a short window of opportunity to land on the rock between difficult sea conditions.



During the late afternoon Justin Hart went to check on our breeding pairs of Skylarks up at Telegraph, he was surprised and delighted to come across a Fan-tailed Warbler, as local birders assembled (a number easily counted on one hand) it transpired that there were 2 Fan-tailed Warblers at the location.

5th.  The highlight of another busy day was a fantastic Honey Buzzard over the Obs late in the afternoon, the bird, our first of this year, passed over very low and was harassed by crows.

_Honey Buzzard

Honey Buzzard over the Obs – photo (record shot with my mobile) – ABO

6th, The day began live a with BBC radio Guernsey interview,  catching up on the news that the states of Alderney are supporting the ABO project by renovating the home of the ABO at the Nunnery, bringing the Channel Islands first accredited bird observatory a big step closer. On the way back to the Obs a routine check in Bray Bay at a site for roosting ‘smaller Gulls’ revealed a ringed Mediterranean gull and 2 ringed Black headed Gulls, ring details were taken and passed on to the ‘grand masters’ of Channel Islands ringing; Richmond and Margaret Austin. A further Fan tailed Warbler was found by Paul and Catherine Veron near the target wall and early in the evening Catherine saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Barrackmasters lane. David Child saw two juvenile Peregrines on the cliffs at Val du Saou.

7th  A Fan tailed Warbler showed well on Longis Common (presumably the bird found near to this location yesterday). Surprise of the week was a cracking freshly moulted adult male Hawfinch ringed at Essex Farm. For good measure Justin saw 3 Sand Martins and added Great White Egret to the island annual bird list (now 154 species) he and visiting researcher Teri seeing one flying over Longis Common.


Male Hawfinch – Essex Farm – photo Justin Hart


7th July, A bumper moth trap held 48 species: 4 Large Yellow Underwing, 4 Rosy Minor, 7 Uncertain, 1 Sycamore, 2 Pine Carpet, 1 Willow Beauty, 1 Orange Footman, 1 Lappet, 4 Small Elephant Hawkmoth, 1 Swallow tail moth, 5 Scarce Footman, 6 Silver Y, 9 Heart & Dart, 13 Dark Arches, 1 Barrats Marbled Coronet, 1 Coronet, 2 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 7 Buff Ermine, 1 Cloaked Minor, 1 Small Magpie, 1 Ruby Tiger, 5 Clay, 3 Common Footman, 1 Wormwood Pug, 1 Smokey Wainscott, 1 Bussells Lace, 1 Rosy Footman, 2 Buff Arches, 1 Orache, 1 Least Minor (4th ever record for Alderney), 1 Flame Shoulder, 1 Lychnis, 1 Dingey Footman, 1 White Point, 1 Ni Moth (2nd ever record for Alderney), 3 Heart & Club, 2 Shuttle shaped Dart, 1 Peppered Moth, 1 Blood Vain, 1 Drinker, 1 Campion, 2 Kent Black Arches, 1 Yellow (Golden) tail, 1 Brown tail, 1 Snout, 1 Ear Moth, 1 Common Rustic and 1 Shoulder striped Wainscott.

8th, Burhou Gull ringing day – maintaining the long-term research program monitoring the Lesser black backed Gull colony on Burhou island. This year two of our Alderney trainee ringers were on board. We had a very hot day but everyone played their part in getting the job done. We managed to ring 115 Lesser black backed Gulls, 5 Herring Gulls, 3 Great Black backed Gulls and 1 Shag. All together we fitted 117 colour rings.


A sea of Sea Campion – Burhou Island – photo – ABO

9th, The fan-tailed Warbler on Longis common was on good form this morning very vocal. In Braye Bay 9 Black-headed Gulls and 5 Mediterranean Gull. Late morning Justin and I ringed 3 young Skylark in a nest that Justin has been staking out for weeks. This is the first ringing record for Skylark on Alderney. We have preciuos few pairs of Skylarks on Alderney, it may be that the introduction of the Pheasant in 1986 (and current growing large population of them) to the island are affecting the success rate of some of our ground nesting songbirds by eating thier eggs.

Skylark chicks

Finally in todays Observatory moth trap amongst another huge range of moths, a female Four spotted Footman and Privet Hawk moth. Flying around the Obs garden this afternoon 2 Hummingbird Hawkmoths and a Jersey Tiger moth.

Some moths recorded this week. Left – Langmaid’s Yellow Underwing – Top Right- Orache, Bottom right –  Four-Spotted Footman.


Thanks to all the visiting ringers and all those involved in making the successes of this week possible.

Thanks also to Justin Hart, Oliver Padget, Jason Moss, Geoff Saunders and Trevor Doleman for some excellent photos used in this weeks blog.