An unlikely addition to the ABO daily census was a Common Scoter sat on the sea just off Mannez lighthouse on the 16th.  A good week for migrant birds of prey included on the 19th our first Honey Buzzard of the year; initially spotted perched up in Mannez Quarry, the bird made its way along the south coast of Alderney where it was reported from two other locations. A female Marsh Harrier was seen over Barrackmasters Lane 19th & 20th, a male Montagu’s Harrier was seen to come in off the sea at Mannez flying directly over the nature reserve on the 18th, and a Hobby was over Longis common on the 21st. Wader sightings included a single Sanderling at Platte saline on the 18th, there are still a couple of Snipe hanging around Longis pond up to the 23rd and the single Bar-tailed Godwit was still present to the 23rd at the north end of Longis bay. Whimbrels continue to pass through with a high count of 5 during the daily census on the 23rd. Two less frequently recorded wader species reported were a Redshank seen flying over Longis Common on the 19th and a Green Sandpiper on Longis pond on the 18th. The Long staying Iceland Gull appears to have finally moved on, last seen in Crabby Bay on the 21st. Swallows, House and Sand Martins continue to pass through but not yet in the large numbers recorded by this time of year during the past two spring migration periods. Tree Pipits have been seen on most days during the past week as have Yellow Wagtails. Black Redstart was at the airport terminal area on the 20th and 4 Common Redstart were recorded on the same day including one ringed a Mannez, a further bird was ringed at Mannez on the 21st. Wheatear peaked at 25 on the 19th and a female Ring Ouzel was present at Fort Albert all day on the 22nd. A late moving Fieldfare was seen on the 18th. The variety of species of Warblers coming through have expanded somewhat over the last few days with our first Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat of the year both ringed on the 19th (another Lesser ringed on the 20th) and also our first Garden Warbler ringed on the 20th, another ringed on the 21st, and a further bird spotted at Giffoine the same day. At the same location the 2nd Grasshopper warbler of the spring was seen on the 22nd. The first Wood Warbler this year was seen in Barrackmasters lane, also on the 22nd. A stunning male Firecrest was ringed at Essex farm on the 23rd. Barrackmasters Lane continued to add good records with a Lesser Redpoll on the 18th and a Serin on the 22nd.

Lesser Whitethroat – Mannez quarry – Photo – JH

Moths have been thin on the ground but they were eclipsed by the presence of a Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the 18th. It having been a long hot afternoon Justin and I stopped at the Old Barn in Longis bay for a drink, here to our surprise and delight the butterfly took in the late afternoon sunshine on the premises roof. No doubt coming to us courtesy of the warm continental winds, it made our day.

Large Tortoiseshell – Longis Bay – photo – Justin Hart

Lastly, further evidence of how late things are this year given the prolonged cold weather. This week in 2016 we filmed with BBC Countryfile who for their program just about managed some footage of the last fading Rock Rose wild flower. This year they are mostly not yet to the flowering stage, though we managed to find a handful evidencing splendidly what is still to come.

Rock Rose – South Cliffs – photo – JH


Thanks go out to visiting Naturalists Tim, Liz and Lindon for their wealth of records this last week. And to all the rest of the contributors. This week sees the arrival of more professional naturalists from the UK drawn to explore the wildlife of Alderney, along with two groups of Guernsey birders.