28th August – 3rd Sept

This week conditions allowed ringing most days and we returned around 500 new birds. A good week for Grasshoppers Warblers, Redstarts and Garden Warblers and an increase in Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs on Saturday. We have no similar records for last year but all week we have seen good numbers of Sandwich Terns off our various beaches. The highest numbers recorded at Houme Herbe and roosting at high tide at the north end of Longis Bay where counts reached 35. Impressive numbers of Peacock and still plenty of Holly Blue butterflies this week were added to by several reports of Painted Lady on Saturday.

28th – Red throated Diver was seen from the wildlife bunker by visiting birder/ringer Keiron Palmer. Paul and Catherine Veron had a Hawfinch fly over Barrackmasters Lane. A juvenile Water Rail showed briefly from Longis hide about 8pm. Earlier in the day Justin had a flock of 9 Redshank flying west over Longis common and a Tree Pipit was heard at the same location. 2 Pied Flycatcher were ringed at Longis pond. A Redstart and 3 Whinchats were seen at the Giffoine and 2 further Whinchats at Tourgis.

29th, 100 Swallows at Whitegates, a further 50 at the football pitch. A Grasshopper Warbler and 2 Redstarts ringed at Longis reserve. A spotted Flycatcher reported from the airport. Sandy Robertson had around 20 Linnets and a Yellow Wagtail around the Impot fields.

30th –  North winds around 20mph and rain dominated the day. An hours ringing between showers at Essex farm in the shelter of Essex Hill produced a nice run on Blue Tits. We have already ringed more Blue Tits this year than in the whole of last year ! Great Tit has done very well this year as was the case last year, but we are delighted to see a marked increase in young Blue Tits this summer. This is of course only our 2nd summer of monitoring breeding passerines so we are can’t say yet if this is a particularly good year for Blue Tits or if last year was the opposite. Continued research by the ABO will offer us a much clearer picture of this species status here, along with many other species on our island. Spotted Flycatcher again reported from the airport.

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Blue Tit – Essex Farm – Photo- JCH

31st

Spotted Flycatcher seen at Rose Farm and 2 at Essex Farm. A good influx of Wheatear with 6 a Bibettes head, 6 along the Fort Razz courzeway, 7 at fort Albert and 12 at the airport. A Firecrest was ringed at Essex Farm and on Longis nature reserve evening Swallow roost ringing included 21 Sand Martins, 1 Green Sandpiper came in to roost at dusk. A flock of 16 Ringed Plovers were in Longis Bay. 5 Arctic and 1 Great Skua were seen off Mannez lighthouse along with 26 Sandwich Terns and 33 Comic Terns. 8 Yellow Wagtails at Barrackmasters Lane.

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Peacock Butterfly – Rose Farm – Photo – JHC

1st Sept – A Honey Buzzard over Corbletts quarry. 4 Stock Doves over st Annes and 2 over Essex hill. A Redstart and a Bullfinch in Mannez quarry.

2nd – Honey Buzzard over the Observatory 11am and then another over Essex Hill that was hurried along by a pair of local Common Buzzards. A reliable report has been received of 11 (eleven) Honey Buzzards in off the sea at Platte saline during the morning , these included groups of 3 and 5 birds. Also 3 Snipe on Longis pond and 16 Mallard in Longis Bay. 6 Med Gulls were seen off Mannez lighthouse.

Ringing topped 100 new birds, Willow Warbler still dominating numbers but an increase in Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps was evident. 2 Grasshopper Warblers ringed at Rose Farm was the highlight. A very vocal Firecrest was also seen at Rose Farm.

3rd – Heavy rain and winds reaching 40mph throughout the day. This didn’t stop a little birding from the car around the island. At the airport 3 Yellow Wagtails and 6 Wheatears. At crabby beach using a spotting scope,  colour ring numbers were recorded from 10 Lesser black backed Gulls, 1 Herring, 1 Great black backed and 2 Blacked headed Gulls. In Longis bay there were 4 Med Gulls, 11 Sandwich Terns, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plovers, 11 Turnstones, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Curlews & 50+ Oystercatchers.

Thanks to French bird ringer Michelle Leveque-Shaw who has completed her 2nd visit staying at the Obs this week, adding experience and enormous enthusiasm to our team.

Lastly a cracking shot of a Yellow Wagtail taken near Kiln Farm this week by Sandy Robertson.

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Yellow Wagatil – Kiln Farm – Photo – Sandy Robertson.

 

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21st-27th August

The ABO 2016 Annual Report has gone out to ABO members in ‘online’ format today !

This week we got back into the ringing saddle and aided by good conditions ringed around 500 new birds this week. The totals largely dominated by Willow Warblers, but towards the end of the week numbers of this species dropped off and we began to see our first signs of movements of Whitethroats, Robins, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Nightingale was our most notable bird but a good supporting cast included several Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and Garden Warblers. Also a couple of each of Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler, Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher. This week last year we were at the bird fair in the UK (missing migration here) so it was good to cover this period for the first time. Lots of other migrants have been passing through reported by islanders and visiting birders/naturalists.

21st – An early and short ringing session at Mannez ( pre other commitments )  20+ birds processed predominantly Willow Warblers and Whitethroats. A Spotted Flycatcher showed well but avoided the nets ! Since late summer I have been guiding/driving history and wildlife tours around the island most afternoons and this has of course got me around the island birding as I go ! Today superb views of a Cuckoo at the Giffione were enjoyed by those on the tour. At Crabby beach late on there were 14 White Wagtails. Photos below of the tails of two Whitethroats; adult (left) and first year (right) ringed at Mannez. The adult tail freshly mounted altogether broader and darker with a more conspicuous white tip to the 5th tail feather, along with a cleaner and more extensive white part on the 6th tail feather.

 

22nd – With the winds for us turning South-east overnight after a long period of Westerleys it looked good for a mornings ringing. Mannez quarry offers birds good shelter in these winds so this was our best option against our other sites. A good session followed with 124 new birds ringed. We also saw 2 Pied Flycatchers, a further Redstart and had a Whimbrel over. At Whitegates there were 6 Wheatears. A spotted Flycaycher was seen a longis pond and during my scheduled island tour we saw a female Marsh Harrier over Mannez lighthouse and a Pied Flycatcher at Essex Farm. A further Spotted Flycatcher was photographed at Valongis by Lois LeLaucher and a Greenshank was seen at Platte Saline beach by Sally-Townsend Smith.

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Adult male Redstart (freshly moulted) – Mannez  – photo – Justin Hart.

Ringing at Essex produced Pied Flycatcher, Grasshopper Warbler and a UK control Blackcap.

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Grasshopper Warbler – Essex Farm- photo – Sharon Ngo.

24th, – Peregrine over the harbour and a Hobby seen over Barrackmasters Lane. Black Redstart at Cambridge battery and 2 Wheatears at the Giffione. 3 Sandwich Terns off Platte saline beach and a Cuckoo in off the sea at Braye. 2 Common Sandpipers at the north end of Longis Bay. The highlights of ringing at Longis were 5 Stonechats, 1 Whinchat, 1 Redstart and a Grasshopper Warbler. Early evening there were 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Sparrowhawk at Essex Farm. 1 Wheatear at Whitegates.

25th, Ringing Mannez produced 45 new birds again mostly Willow Warblers, a Redstart and 2 Spotted Flycatchers. A Pied Flycatcher showed well near to the hide and a flock of around 20 House Martin spent an hour or so around mannez lighthouse. 5 Swifts over Barrackmasters Lane (and 3 on 26th). The Obs moth trap was busy, some of its contents featured below.

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Red Underwing – Obs moth trap – photo – JCH

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Peach Blossom Moth – Obs moth trap – photo JCH.

26th A Pied Flycatcher was seen at Mannez quarry. 2 Grey Herons at Platte Saline. Evening ringing at Longis produced a good catch of Swallows and 3 Sand Martins. Amongst the Swallows our first ‘Control’ of this species, a UK ringed first year bird. An unusually high count for us of 33 Sandwich Terns was recorded at high tide at Houme Herbe.

27th – A female Marsh Harrier was hunting Mannez quarry at first light. 2 Snipe on Longis pond. We also had our first good influx of Swallows with around 100 around the Mannez area and 50 on power lines by the football pitch. Ringing at Mannez produced our first Firecrests of the Autumn along with Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and a fine Nightingale. 10 Common Dolphin were seen 2 miles SW of Clonque Bay and a Tree Pipit was heard passing over Longis common

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1st yr male Firecrest – Mannez – photo – JCH


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1st yr Nightingale – Mannez – photo – JCH

Finally on the 27th some photos sent in by Sandy Roberston of a bird of prey he photographed as it passed over the bird observatory earlier in the day. A great shot of a Honey Buzzard.

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Hony Buzzard -Over the bird observatory Longis bay – photo – Sandy Robertson.

 

Lastly a big thanks to those donating ringing equipment to the observatory via our advert on the BTO website. So far we have received books, nets and rulers for which we are extremely grateful. We have had a couple more verbal offers of equipment so hopefully more to come. We will hold off listing those who have made donations until the the end of the autumn. Thanks again.

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14th-20th August

A belated report from the 11th of 20+ Bottle nose Dolphins observed from Mannez lighthouse.

This week small movements of Swifts early in the week, migrants continue to pass through the island as we begin to see the winding down of the various breeding seabird colonies. Ravens have been evident across the island this week with a maximum count of 8 together at Barrackmasters Lane on 14th & 17th.

15th – A Yellow legged Gull on Crabby beach and a Barn Owl at Barrackmasters Lane.

17th –  A Hen Harrier was seen at Barrackmasters Lane and again on the 19th at the airport. 4 Mediterranean Gulls seen of Mannez lighthouse

19th –  1 Sandwich Tern Braye Bay. A single Balearic Shearwater and 2 Kittiwake off chateau le toq. A Turtle Dove was seen over the golf course with a Wheatear at the same location.  12 House Martins were over the airfield.

Sunday 20th – At first light a Green Sandpiper was on Longis pond. An early and brief ringing session included migrant Willow, Sedge and Garden warblers moving ahead of a weather front from the North-West. Below a photo of the Garden Warbler, on its way to sub Saharan West Africa to spend the winter. At the bird observatory we monitor the condition of the birds passing through Alderney,  it is of course always good to see healthy examples. This individual (pictured below) weighed in this morning at just over 24 grams, well over the average weight for this species of around 18 grams. These robust warblers should be carrying good fat and muscle to see them through their long journey, but this one was a particularly fine ‘and heavy’ bird.

 

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Garden Warbler – Longis Nature reserve, Photo – ABO Warden

At pm high tide:  Braye Bay 35 Black headed Gulls, 5 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 Grey Heron.  Longis Bay 1 Whimbrel, along with 3 Mediterranean Gulls and 4 Sandwich Terns.

 

 

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7th-13th August

This week I’ve been in England flying the flag for Alderney and the Channel Islands by attending the Sandwich Bay bird observatory ringing training course. This well established observatory on the Kent coast has excellent facilities and pedigree. It was a great honour to be asked to take part as the course as ‘ independent assessor’, particularly as our own bird Observatory develops it was also been a chance to pick up good ideas and tips to help us progress. The ABO are looking to host our own training course for bird ringers which will be a first for the Channel islands, so for several reasons this was time well spent. The course, organised and led by Ian and Sally Hunter was to my mind an enormous success. Most of the attendees were trainee ringers looking to obtain experience, with a few additional participants attending hoping for licence upgrades. I do not have final figures but I suspect we processed well over 500 birds that included 19 Garden Warblers one morning. Moult in birds was studied in detail and best practice in standards covered across a variety of aspects of ringing.  Thanks to all at Sandwich Bay for a splendid few days.

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House Martin pulli, Sandwich Bay – photo JH/ABO

Whilst away I have kept in touch with developments on the home front that have included some ringing by Justin our assistant warden, sea watching by Paul and Catherine Veron  and a report from Rose Farm of a passing rarity.

A Barn Owl was seen in the Houme Herbe area.  On the 8th 2 Sandwich Tern at the Longis Bay high tide roost (one a juvenile) A Great White Egret visited the pond at Rose Farm was reported by Mark Atkinson the morning of the 9th of August, after a short stay the bird was seen flying out towards Fort Clonque. Sea-watching on the 9th produced 1 Arctic and 1 Great Skua, 7 Balearic & 1 Manx Shearwater and 4 Mediterranean Gulls. A single Green Sandpiper was on Longis pond.

Our appeal through the BTO for donations of ringing equipment continues and this week another kind offer of some ringing kit has been gratefully accepted. Full details of ringing kit donations at those who have stepped forward to help us out will appear in end of this months blog.

Lastly, recently we had a visit to the observatory from John & Sue Palmer. John & Sue had visited the Obs spring 2016 with Johns brother Colin not long after we launched the ABO. The three had soon after sent us a lovely email saying how much they had enjoyed their visit to the Obs and in particular a bird ringing demonstration. Now this return trip to the ABO by John and Sue was very specific. John explained that sadly his brother Colin had passed on; going on to tell us that because Colin had enjoyed his visit with us last year so much, he had left the ABO £2500.  Colin had apparently been very fond of Alderney for many years and was particularly keen that the new bird observatory project be a success. The fact that John and Sue went to the trouble of coming back to tell us Colins story and present the cheque in person, was both wonderful and humbling. This donation could not have come at a better time as we push to furnish and make ready the new bird observatory and field centre for a grand opening spring next year. From all of us at the ABO, thank you John and Sue, and most of all thank you Colin.

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John Palmer, brother of Colin, presenting us with his brothers donation.

 

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31st July – 6th Aug

This week has whizzed by. Meetings and paperwork have taken precidence with an ABO committee meeting this week along with preparations for the renovations of the Observatory scheduled to begin 4th September.

After the disappointment of the 2nd Petrel ringing weekend cancelled due to the weather we were delighted to get in a good Petrel session on 31st July on Alderneys NE coast, local ringers were joined by visitors Tim & Nicci. In excellent conditions Over 3hrs we processed 47 birds. These included an impressive 3 French and 1 UK Control (birds not originally ringed in the Channel Isles). Also 2 local re-traps from previous years efforts both originally ringed on Burhou island (Alderney) in July 2014.

5th Aug – At 8pm the high tide roost site at the NE end of Longis Bay held 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel and 2 Sandwich Terns (one a recently fledged bird). Also a grey seal just off shore.

6th Aug – A passerine ringing session at Longis common this morning with local trainee John Weir was steady with common migrant warblers, mostly 2017 hatch birds. 61 new birds ringed included 15 Willow Warblers. On Longis bay at evening high tide 11 Ringed Plovers, 2 Dunlin and 1 Sanderling.

 

 

 

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24th-30th July

Shearwaters were passing the island this week, a couple of mornings equipped with NW winds also brought increased numbers of Kittiwakes and Mediterranean Gulls. Little Egret numbers are slowly rising with a peak count of 6 in Longis Bay. Whimbrels and Common Sandpipers also reported on several days from various locations. Returning migrants picked up towards the end of the week with 91 birds ringed at Mannez quarry over 3 hours between weather fronts. Passage House Martin numbers increased towards the end of the week. Surprise of the week; the returning Royal Tern that has been in the vicinity of the Channel Islands and french coast for several months now. Sadly further gale force winds and rain prevented our 2nd Petrel ringing expedition to Burhou Island from going ahead, but we managed to ring a few from the Alderney coast. These posed us some interesting questions concerning the moult strategy adopted by this species here. Gatekeeper butterfly numbers have been phenomenal, and outside of the areas where the plant is removed, it was clear this species enjoys Ragwort. (Oxford Ragwort was also seen) Several sightings of Clouded Yellow this week.

24th, One Grey seal in Longis bay. The return of the Royal Tern to our shores was a little unexpected, the bird is now in primary moult (see photo) and was associating with a group of ‘larger’ Gulls on Longis beach late afternoon where there was also 2 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plovers, 5 Dunlin and a Redshank.  A Wheatear and a Snipe were seen on Longis common. At least 5 Jersey Tiger moths reported from various locations. 3 Balearic Shearwaters were seen off Chateau le toq

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Royal Tern – Longis Bay – photo – JH ABO

25th, During the morning a juvenile Hen Harrier (possibly the same bird seen on the 22nd) and a Honey Buzzard were both seen over Rose Farm. The harrier over the Barley fields and the Buzzard initially low over the valley before gaining great height before heading with some purpose NW ! A handful of Willow Warblers were ringed at Rose Farm and Longis Nature reserve. Green Sandpiper was spotted on Longis pond first thing and it was still present early evening. Black-headed Gulls had increased to 50 in Braye Bay.

26th – Petrel ringing on Alderney Island (not the smaller off islands) has been historically sporadically successful and could provide some very useful data. We tried a quiet and sheltered spot along the NE coast which produced 7 birds over about 2hrs.

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Comparing a freshly moulted (above) and unmoulted (below) Storm Petrel wings.

26th – The Royal Tern was back in Longis Bay resting on rocks beside the Fort Razz causeway at 1330hrs. 11 Turnstone and 2 Sanderling were on the rocks beside fort Razz. We had 3 Jersey Tiger moths in the Obs garden this morning including this one (below) in the overnight moth trap.  A sea-watch off chatteau le toq produced 8 Manx Shearwater, 22 Balearic Shearwaters, 14 Mediterranean Gulls and 8 Kittiwakes.

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Jersey Tiger moth – ABO Moth Trap – Photo – JH ABO

27th – Visiting ringer/birder Jenny Wallace saw a juvenile Water Rail at Longis pond. A Green Sandpiper was seen at the same location. 4 Common Sandpipers were reported from the coastline at Mannez lighthouse. 1 Sandwich Tern and 16 Mediterranean Gulls in Braye Bay, and 6 more Med in Crabby Bay along with a Yellow Legged Gull.

28th – 9 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderlings and 2 Turnstones at Platte Saline beach. 2 Dunlin  on Longis beach towards high tide late afternoon. 4 Swifts and 6 Sand Martins in Mannez Quarry. A busy ringing session produced 91 birds using just 3 nets. Migrant Sedge and Willow Warblers (neither breed here) now coming through along with Whitethroats and Blackcaps the more common species recorded.

30th – 1 Dunlin Corblets bay.

Finally, great news that the mystery wader found on Longis pond 26th April has been after some considerable deliberation verified to be a Marsh Sandpiper. This record is not only another first record for Alderney (our 4th new species for the island this year) but it is also the first record for the Channel Islands.

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Marsh Sandpiper – Longis Pond – photo – Paul James

 

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17th-23rd July

A combination of gales and driving rain put pay our first of this years two Petrel ringing weekends on Burhou Island. The week was dominated by weather fronts hitting us from the West, North-west and South.   On the 18th an amazing electrical storm produced a light show for over an hour. Some local photographers caught some of the spectacular action (See below). Evidence of migrant birds heading south continues, amongst others we had Willow Warbler, Wheatear and Hen Harrier passing through.  Grayling, Wall and Common Blue butterflies remain in abundance. It has also been a very good week for spotting Grey Seals!

 

Lightning storm 18th July 2017

Photo Sally Smith

 

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Photo  – Sandy Robertson (from the clonque road looking out towards Burhou).

19th – A Wheatear at Giffione, Grey Seal at Saye Bay and Longis Bay. Single Whimbrels at Longis bay and Crabby Bay.  2 Redshank in Saye Bay. 4 Swift heading south over longis common.

20th – An early sea-watch saw a few birds moving including 2 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Kittiwake and 1 Balearic Shearwater. 13 Black-headed Gulls sheltered in Saye Bay. Little Egret and Grey Heron in Longis Bay.

 

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Alderney School children get a tour of the historic Nunnery, home of the Bird Observatory

21st,

3 Swift over the Obs. 2 Med Gull Longis bay. A Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper in Saye Bay. A flock of 33 Curlew over Rose Farm.

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Red Admiral – Obs ringing room – photo – ABO

22nd, A single Balearic Shearwater past Chateau Le Toq. Justin had a juvenile Hen Harrier over the south cliffs fields heading towards the airfield. A Whimbrel in Bray Bay.

23rd, Visiting ringers had 42 birds at Essex farm, including our first migrating Willow Warbler. A single Sand Martin flew across Longis Bay.

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Willow Warbler – Essex Farm – photo – ABO

The next blog should include ringing starting up again at Mannez nature reserve as we begin to focus more attention on return migration. Also so long as the weather holds, a team off to Burhou island to monitor/research the Storm Petrel colony.

 

 

 

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10th-16th July

A late report from last week of 2 Siskin in Barrackmasters Lane on the 9th.

The week has seen a steady increase in Black headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls. Swallows are fledging from bunkers across the island and one of the pairs of Stonechats we are monitoring are rearing thier 3rd clutch ! Our passerine ringing sessions are beginning to provide us with evidence that our songbirds have so far had a good breeding season. With no historical data available, we can now begin to form comparisons against our first year and start to form ideas on how common or otherwise our local and garden birds are. I am delighted to report that our songbirds are having a very good year, in particular we are seeing good numbers of fledged Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Great Tits and Chiffchaffs. Last year was surprisingly good for Song Thrushes, this year is equal to it. While young Blue Tits were thin on the ground last year we are already well ahead of last years total. Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds are all holding their own. At the end of the season our first year to year comparisons will be available, and a more accurate status of many of our breeding birds better established. No sign of the Fan-tailed Warblers at Longis or at Telegraph.

10th, A third calendar yr Yellow Legged Gull and Crabby Bay. Also a Swift over Barrackmasters Lane.

11th, 7 Mediterranean Gulls Corbletts Bay

12th, A single Swift over Longis common.

14th, At first light a Bull seal was close in to shore at high tide in Longis bay observed from the Obs ringing room.A young Cuckoo showed well sitting on a footpath sign post for a bus load of tourists at Giffione. Today another chance to fit the rest of the Geo-tags to adult Gannets. Though  conditions appeared favourable on a sunny day with low winds and a calm sea, the swell around Ortac was far from ideal. Our advanced party chanced a landing and just got on the rock before conditions got even worse. About an hour later we managed to get one more researcher landed. The tagging team got the job done and a further 50 chicks were ringed. We’ve not been very fortunate with conditions for seabird ringing teams this year, just the Storm Petrels to go now, we are due a break…

15th – An adult Yellow Legged Gull in Crabby Bay. North-West and West winds warranted a Sea watch producing; 11 Common Scoters, 3 Kittiwakes, 1 Manx Shearwater, 24 Balearic Shearwater and 4 Mediterranean Gull.

16th – 3 Balearic Shearwaters from Mannez lighthouse.

This chap was in the Obs garden this morning ! I only saw one of these magnificent creatures last year and was delighted to come across another. They are a good indicator of a diverse local ecosystem and flourishing natural habitat.

 

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Great Green Bush Cricket

Moths in abundance again this week, pictured; Bordered Beauty and Pine Hawkmoth.

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3rd-9th July

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Stop Press update !

Joint Press Release from the Alderney Wildlife Trust (AWT) and the Alderney Bird Observatory (ABO)

With the thrilling news of the recent approval by the States of Alderney of the restoration of the Nunnery, the Alderney Bird Observatory Committee has considered how best to move forward with the implementation plan for the ABO once the building is back in use.

The Committee Members have unanimously agreed the most beneficial way forward. As a result the Committee will shortly make appropriate recommendations on the principles of its implementation plan to the AWT Board as its parent body (bearing in mind that the ABO is a sub-committee of the AWT with no legal or separate governance status).

Once it has considered the recommendations from the ABO Committee, the AWT Board will in turn liaise with the General Services Committee over the proposed lease and covenant for the Nunnery, which will remain compliant with the recent States’ decisions which should now enable the ABO to become established on Alderney.

Both the ABO and the AWT are working to secure the best possible result for Alderney in terms of developing an implementation plan that will:-

  • conserve and, over time, provide further income to continue restoration of the Nunnery as one of the most important Roman archaeological sites in Western Europe;
  • enable continued appropriate public access, enhancing both the archaeology and the ornithological attractions there; and
  • provide a long-term home for the fledgling Alderney Bird Observatory, which we fully expect will have achieved its status as the first new Accredited Bird Observatory in Britain for very many years, while also being the most southerly Observatory in the whole network.

John Horton, Alderney Bird Observatory Warden said:

“Cathy and I are very pleased with the recent developments and we are looking forward to managing the on going success of the bird observatory at the Nunnery.  The project will undoubtedly continue to bring a lot of positive publicity and tourism to the island.”

Finally both the AWT and the ABO should like to take the opportunity to thank everyone on and off island, not least the States Members themselves, for the overwhelming support given to both organisations to enable the Observatory to achieve so much success so quickly.

 

 

Ian Carter                                                                                                                            Paul K Veron

President                                                                                                                            Chairman

Alderney Wildlife Trust                                                                                                  Alderney Bird Observatory

 

04 July 2017

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