Walking across the short distance from the Obs to Longis reserve this morning at first light I saw a male Sparrowhawk rifling along the bramble tops at the bottom of the golf course. Opening up the nets at 0515, I flushed a Water Rail along the footpath at the north end of the reserve and the bird flew a short distance into the reedbed. During the morning 5 Sand Martin passed over the reserve and straight out to sea – next stop France. The breeding pair of Stonechat on the reserve appear to have a second brood now fledged and this afternoon the were no less than 9 juvenile Stonechat along the track adjacent to the camping ground.

Ringing saw 40 birds processed, 29 of which were new, 9 retraps and 1 control (being a breeding Reed Warbler we caught this May that records have shown was originally ringed in Guernsey in 2013). Again most birds we saw were recently fledged individuals and where you get concentrations of most forms of wildlife you get predators. Whilst it appears Alderney may have just one or two breeding pairs, Sparrowhawks do focus on songbirds to sustain their diets and it is thought that fledgling songbirds account for around 40% of their food.  Males take anything from House Martins to Great Tits and the female Sparrowhawk, which is  a fair bit bigger, will go after larger birds including thrushes, Starlings and Collared Doves. The bird pictured below, caught this morning, is a male which is approximately a year old. It is the fourth one we have ringed on Alderney since March and I would expect a few more during this autumn when migrating Sparrowhawks will likely be cashing in on the vast numbers of migrant song birds passing through our little island heading for warmer climes.

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Male Sparrowhawk – Longis Reserve – photo Dr S. Robertson.