March 3rd and Justin and I set out on the ABO daily census route. This is an area of the NE of the island decided upon after two years island wide study by the ABO. The area in question we feel likely the best location on Alderney, (when monitored daily throughout Spring and Autumn migration recording every bird seen or heard) will in the long term provide Alderney with by far its most comprehensive and detailed ornithological survey work ever undertaken. Our first two years have proven beyond anyone’s imagination the extraordinary volume and variety of birds using this tiny island as a migrational staging post. This program will steadily build a picture of the fortunes of Alderneys resident and passage migrant birds. I have no doubt the ABO’s efforts will cement into place what we have proudly evidenced to the world over the last two years, that Alderney is one of the best places for recording, conserving and studying birds in the British Isles. The route takes around 3 hours to complete, and our counterpart accredited bird observatories across the UK complete the same studies at their respective locations. The data collected from the nationally spread bird observatories is combined and widely respected as responsible for identifying species population trends, the migration routes and seasonal movements of our birds.
Our walk began and ended in the rain ! But despite the hampering weather we recorded some movements of early migrants by way of around 35 Meadow Pipits on the grass slope above Houme herbe and in Corblets Bay a marvellous flock of around 75 Lesser black-backed Gulls. The male Gadwall was still on Longis pond with a single Shoveler. A special moment of this first momentous BOC standard survey was seeing a 1st winter Iceland Gull. This was only the 2nd record of this species for Alderney (the previous one in 1984). It is very likely that this species is more common than historical records suggest, and just one of many species that ABO coverage will over time create a more accurate account of.
In the afternoon I headed up to Rose Farm hoping to get a photo of the two male Pintails (8th & 9th records for Alderney) reported that morning by Mark Atkinson. As I waited I saw the largest flock (44 birds) of Lapwings recorded since the inception of the ABO, I was in luck, as one male Pintail flew in to roost on the pond as the evening lights began to leave us.
4th March – Justin completed the daily census and was lucky enough to see a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins and a Grey Seal. A wonderful sunny afternoon, Cathy and I spent an hour watching an adult and first winter Sandwich Tern fishing amongst torpedoing Gannets just off Fort Houme Herbe.