The blog is back !
Cathy and I are delighted to be back in Alderney after our break !
We’ve had an exciting start to the month and the full force of the ‘beast from the east’ apparently the heaviest snows and coldest temperatures in living memory here, so we should not be surprised that species of birds have turned up seeking shelter that we do not regularly see here. Waterfowl records for Alderney are far and few between with anything beyond Mallard considered a Scarce or rare visitor. The last two days certainly bucked the trend as we recorded no less than 7 different species of duck. Teal were dropping in all over the island on the 1st, with groups in every bay island wide, high counts were of 30 birds together at Rose Farm pond, 18 on Longis pond and 9 at Platte Saline. Also present on Longis pond on the 1st were 5 Shovelers (3 males 2 females) and a further female Shoveler at Rose farm. This total of 6 Shovelers is double the highest previous total ever recorded. By the afternoon of the 1st a smart male Gadwall turned up on Longis pond, I can only find 2 previous records of Gadwall for Alderney, the last in 1985. A male Tufted Duck (our first record since March 2016) was at the rear of Crabby Bay quarry. Longis Bay added two more species with a Wigeon on the 1st and 4 Shelducks on the 2nd. Not to be outdone on the 2nd of March a male Pintail was spotted at Rose Farm by Mark Atkinson, the visiting drake was in company with his resident pinioned bird in the farm ornamental fowl collection, this Pintail was only the 8th record for Alderney and Justin and I managed to see this fine specimen before it flew off heading south.
Male Gadwall – Longis Pond – Photo Jake Brown
Birding in the most horrendous of conditions continued to pay dividends and I was delighted to see my first Purple Sandpiper in Alderney (first record since 1999) on rocks opposite the parking spot at the bottom of Tourgis Hill overlooking Platte Saline beach. Other waders seen included a 10 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plovers,11 Curlews, a Bar-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, 8 Lapwings and a Whimbrel in Longis Bay. In Crabby Bay 2 further Dunlin, 2 Sandwich Terns, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and only the 4th record of Common Gull in the last 2yrs. Guernsey have also reported an influx of Common Gulls and I was delighted to see 10 more Common Gulls in company of a Herring Gull and 3 Mediterranean Gulls in Longis Bay. Passerines have been really thin on the ground during this harsh weather and there is certainly concern that some will not have made it through. Around 50 Chaffinches have been in the vacinity Rose Farm but there has been no sign of any movement of winter Thrushes. Last but by no means least on the late afternoon of the high tide in Braye Bay on the first was a Black-necked Grebe.
Other sightings included our first moths of the year hibernating in the what is locally known as ‘the bat cave’ that runs under Essex Hill.
Work renovating the observatory appears to be on track. Huge thanks to Cathy’s son Jake Brown who whilst visiting us hand built a magnificent table and benches for the observatory kitchen dining area.
A sneak preview of inside the newly renovated observatory building, Jake Brown sat at the 10 seater table he built in his own time volunteering for the ABO. Perfect for gatherings, the table is yet to be stained as a final touch. Thanks Jake