During lockdown Elliot and I have made good use of our 2hrs exercise completing the census walk, a relaxation of the restrictions locally allowed us to obtain permission to resume bird ringing and have unrestricted census time from the 25th. The last two weeks of April are always a productive and exciting period for us here recording migration and this year didn’t disappoint. On the 23rd Paul Veron found a Canada Goose near the airport, a local rarity. On the 18th, 6 Dark bellied Brent Geese offshore were probably our last spring record for this year. Two pairs of Common Shelduck appear to have settled at the north east end of the island and the male Teal remained present to month end. Single Manx Shearwaters were seen off the NE coast 19th & 21st. Black Kite was present on 8 seperate days between the 18th & 30th, with 2 seen together on the 25th. From photos of individual birds it looks like one of them (most unusually) hung around for a week and that the period saw 4 or 5 individual birds in total. A female Marsh Harrier passed through on the 23rd and a 2nd calendar year Hen Harrier showed well over Whitegates fields 21st. Hobby was seen on the 19th & 25th and a Merlin 21st.
Water Rail was recorded up to the 26th sparking hopes of the repeat breeding of 2016. 4 Lapwing were reported from the Bonne Terre valley 21st. Other wader sightings included a Greenshank in Longis Bay on the 25th, a smart summer plumage Grey Plover 25th & 26th. A high count of 13 Dunlin on the 28th, Green Sandpiper showing well at Mannez reserve on the 21st, 4 single records of Bar-tailed Godwit (19th-28th) 2 Snipe on the 22nd and on the 30th a high count for this reporting period of 17 Whimbrel.
A dark phase Arctic Skua was spotted on the 19th and at least two immature Yellow legged Gulls regularly visited Saye Bay. The 18th brought an ‘observatory list’ (2016 onwards)first record as Elliot recorded a summer plumage Black Tern just offshore on the north east coast. A female Hoopoe ringed at Longis reserve on the 27th was still around on the 30th but very elusive. The 21st saw our first Swift movement with 19 recorded. On the 21st Elliot had brief views of a Red-rumped Swallow, a species I had expected to record before now, this the ABO’s first record although they have been recorded in the Channel Islands annually in recent years.
On the 27th a Tree Pipit trapped at Longis reserve was wearing a Portuguese ring, this transpired to be the first time this species has ever been found sporting a ‘foreign’ ring in the Channel lsands, 8 Tree Pipits were spotted on the 18th and on the same day 17 Yellow Wagtails. On the 22nd at least 6 Common Redstarts were present in the census area and a female Pied Flycatcher was at Longis 30th. 38 Wheatears were counted on the 24th, single Whinchats 23rd & 24th and single Ring Ouzels 23rd & 25th. The first Garden Warbler this spring was on the 23rd and first Wood Warbler the same day. 3 Lesser Whitethroats were seen towards the month end including one ringed on the 25th. The remaining Fan-tailed Warbler at Longis reserve was ringed on the 19th and was present singing and displaying daily to the 30th.
We added Small Copper, Orange-tip and Painted Lady to species of butterfly recorded within our census area, and 6 impressive Emperor moths on the 25th.
The ABO led Bailiwick Garden Birdwatch was a great success and results will appear of the ABO social media pages tomorrow. Thanks to all those who took part.
The local Bailiwick islands newspapers and social media had done us proud publishing our article on Gannet behaviour see https://guernsey.com/news/2020/05/05/birdwatchers-notice-gannets-behaviour-change-due-to-virus/ Also the ABO twitter feed blog page achieved some great publicity for Alderney with an amazing 34,686 views at the time of posting this blog.
Lastly, other welcome news is our observatory field centre accommodation has just received our ‘Quality in Tourism’ certification awarding us 4 STARS! We are enormously proud to have achieved this high standard, all we need now is for you to be allowed to come and visit!
Stay safe everyone.