We are now revamped upgraded improved polished and back in the room !

Sorry for the delay in bringing you the weekly blog, information of note has been placed on our ABO facebook site but I shall now provide a September round-up. Thanks to Becky Sumpster of ‘Design Somerset’ for providing her professional services for FREE enabling our new website to be able to facilitate amongst other things our soon to go live new on-line accommodation booking system.

September has been as exciting as it has been hectic. We were delighted this period included two Naturetrek tour groups that combined brought us 30 extra pairs of wildlife hungry eyes over 13 days. The 2016 ABO annual bird report was finalised and went out to all ABO members, and the renovations of the observatory accommodation are well underway and gathering pace. Paul & Catherine Veron flew the ABO flag at the Inter-island environmental conference in Sark. And in no particular order, Great Skua, Red-Breasted Flycatcher, Sooty Shearwater, Wryneck, Alpine Swift and Yellow-browed Warbler were all added to our island annual bird species total.

The month began with a Bullfinch in Mannez quarry. The very good passage of Honey Buzzards continued until mid month with another 12 individuals seen in total. A single Black Kite was also seen over the Bonne Terre valley and on the 10th a Hen Harrier. Guernsey returned some impressive sea watch figures throughout the month and it was frustrating at times that a combination of commitments and limited man power left us with nobody to check our sea passage. However, Justin managed a good session on the 15th returning 8 Great Skuas and a Sooty Shearwater. Many thousands of Swallows passed through the island. On the 16th we estimated over 1000 and another strong passage on the 19th looked to be double that during the day, with in excess of 500 birds roosting on Longis common including good numbers of both House and Sand Martins. On the 23rd we were again recording well into the hundreds of Swallows but numbers peaked on the 26th with an estimated 10,000 Swallows through, 1500 House Martins and 200 Sand Martins. Watching this spectacle from Arch Bay as birds flooded in off the sea over and around us was a wonderful sight. Throughout the month during the predominant westerly winds, good flocks of swallows and martins could be observed feeding in the shelter of Essex hill ( inc 300 House Martins on 24th). The first Naturetrek group enjoyed a cracking fall of phylloscs and sylvias that included a posing Wryneck along the fort clonque pathway on the 17th. Tourists on board Alderney tours minibus were not quite so taken with another Wryneck perched on a bush at the bottom of the fort Fort Albert track on the 21st. Wader passage has been slim with just a single Grey Plover on the 3rd, 2 sightings of Common Sandpiper and 5 Whimbrels between the 12th and 15th. Just one Snipe on Longis reserve on the 16th and a Jack Snipe 27th. A very excited Naturetrek group enjoyed superb views of an Alpine Swift over lunch at The Old Barn at the foot of Essex Hill. This bird was first seen some 3hrs earlier by Justin Hart over Longis common and I must admit I did not expect the bird would be seen again. On the 20th a male Dartford Warbler showed well behind Essex Castle and a female was seen briefly at the same location on the 27th.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker (on average 0-3 a year here) was found  by Mark Atkinson on the 20th, the Naturetrek group saw presumably the same bird on the 25th and it was further reported at Rose farm on the 27th and 30th. Water Rail numbers have risen with a high count of 6 on Longis pond on the 27th towards dusk and at least 3 at Mannez quarry. On the 26th Justin and I observed a flock of 58 Lesser black backed Gulls migrating south over Longis common, the majority of the birds were in their first year. 16 Common Redstarts were ringed this month and a single Black Redstart was seen at Mannez lighthouse on the 21st. Over 20 Spotted Flycatchers were recorded and a dozen Pied. A Red breasted Flycatcher showed briefly but well from Mannez hide on 24th. Sporadic influxes of Meadow Pipits, Starlings, Goldfinches and Linnets increased towards month end. On 29th a Yellow-browed Warbler was ringed at Mannez Quarry. A Hawfinch was seen in Barrackmasters lane reported by visiting Guernsey birder Jamie Hooper on the 30th.

A fairly good month of bird ringing returned just over 1500 new birds. Productive Swallow roosts contributed over 500 of this total along with over 40 Firecrests. Chiffchaffs began to out number Willow Warblers from around the 10th though we were still catching the latter at the month end. Also good numbers of Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Grasshopper Warblers were also ringed.

Also, a new species of moth for Alderney and indeed the Channel Isles was recorded this week. A black banded -Polymixis xanthomista, well done David Wedd !

Thanks for bearing with us, the normal weekly blog service is now resumed !

Above: Renovations at the Nunnery, home of Alderney Bird Observatory.

Pied Flycatcher, f, Bird ringing, Alderney, C.I.

Pied Flycatcher (first yr male) ringed at Mannex Quarry – Photo Brian Nobbs

Small Copper

Small Copper Butterfly – Mannez nature reserve – photo JH – ABO