The first half of May usually sees less in the way of volume of birds passing through the island but usually more diversity that includes rare and scarce records to add to our data. Last year during these two weeks we recorded Alderneys first Thrush Nightingale. As you can see from this blog, this May certainly held some surprises. Breeding birds are in full swing and we hope to bring you news of a first breeding for Alderney in next months blog, for now we can reveal no further information as the welfare of the birds must come first, we want to give them every chance of success. A very good summary of Bailiwick wildlife law and clear guidance in terms of disturbing nesting wild birds at this time of year can be found on Guernseybirds website. This May also saw our assistant warden Elliot achieve a new record for most species recorded in Alderney in a single day with 79 different species spotted on the 8th of the month.
The single male Teal remained until the 19th, it appears he has some identity issues as he has been observed trying very hard to win the attentions of female Mallards. 35 Common Scoter were seen during a sea-watch on the 26th along with 3 Storm Petrels, 23 Manx Shearwaters and 1 Balearic Shearwater, of the latter also 3 on the 20th and 1 on the 22nd. Only our 2nd record (since 2016) of Quail was recorded calling from a meadow at Fosse Herve on the 31st. A memorable spring for birds of prey continued with a first record for The Channel Islands of Bearded Vulture. This magnificent bird was found and photographed by ABO board member Neil Harvey on the 19th with a couple of other lucky locals also noticing this gigantic bird and taking photos using their mobile phones. Though it was thought that the vulture departed high and to the north at 3pm, the following day it was again spotted, this time high over the Bird Observatory descending towards the lighthouse where it turned south west and out across the sea towards France. The bird had no signs of any transmitter, tagging, feather bleaching or rings and is likely wild born from captive released parents as part of the International Vulture Foundation re-introduction program of these birds to the Pyrenees and Alps. Just two posts on the ABO twitter page of this bird attracted over 150,000 views! The photograph below has subsequently featured in local and national newspapers, BBC & ITV news broadcasts and on BBC Countryfile.
A chastened Osprey flew low over the war memorial headed NE on the 31st. After recording Black Kites into double figures in April, there were two May records; over Essex Hill on the 2nd and on the 12th over Burhou Island. Also on the 12th an adult female Hen Harrier was hunting at Kiln Farm. Hobby was recorded on 6 separate dates involving a total of 8 birds. A Merlin passed over Mannez on the 7th. 5 Honey Buzzards were recorded between the 8th & 21st. On the 8th came our 2nd Black winged Kite of the spring (and no we couldn’t believe it either) some 16 days after the April bird this one appears to be a 2nd calendar year and was quite settled along the west coast where it spent the best part of 3hrs.
A Greenshank was in Longis Bay on the 19th. Common Sandpipers were thin on the ground this year with only 7 individuals recorded, all during the first week of the month. Two 2nd calendar year Yellow legged Gulls were in Longis Bay on the 11th. Pomarine Skua was seen offshore on the 2nd and on the 20th. A female Nightjar was hunting over Longis common at dusk on the 15th and a male was heard calling in a garden in St. Anne on the 19th. The Hoopoe ringed on the 26th of last month was still at Longis reserve until the 4th, likely the same bird was seen at Kiln farm on the 6th. Two vocal Bee-eaters flew over Mannez reserve on the 7th, they only hung around for a couple of minutes before heading out to sea to the NE.
Cuckoo was recorded on 8 different days. Just two Turtle Dove records this spring, 1 on the 1st in St. Anne allotments and another over the NE of the island on the 8th. Swifts moved through in small numbers throughout the month with a high count of 20 on the 25th. Migrating Tree Pipits were recorded almost daily until mid month. Single Blue-headed Wagtails were at Whitegates fields on the 2nd and 12th, the high count of Yellow Wagtails was a flock of 22 on the 12th. An estimated 1200 Swallows gathered over Longis reserve on the evening of the 15th, about two thirds moved off to the north east about an hour ahead of dusk. A Wheatear was observed feeding a chick on the 14th, this species has successfully bred on Burhou island in recent years but I am struggling to find any mainland Alderney records of the same. A rare spring record of Mistle Thrush (migrant only here) was on Longis Common on the 16th. A female Pied Flycatcher ringed at Mannez on the 12th is our latest spring record to date. Spotted Flycatcher records involved 12 birds between the 1st & 25th. The last of 3 Common Redstarts was spotted on the 12th. A Nightingale ringed at Mannez on the 3rd was in good voice at the same location on the mornings of the 4th & 5th but not after. A very rare spring record and new for Alderney was a Radde’s Warbler spotted by assisstant warden Elliot on the 3rd along the railway sidings close to the waterworks, the bird was calling and showed briefly but well. Single Lesser Whitethroats were on the 2nd & 3rd. A fine spring plumage Rose-coloured Starling was moving with around 40 Common Starlings between the Fosse Herve fields and adjacent residential gardens on the 31st. Three Serin records were of a female at Val du Sud on the 3rd, a male on the campsite on the 12th, and another over the golf course on the 17th. 4 Common Crossbills were seen flying over Essex farm on the 14th.
Moth trapping has had a slow start but cught up with some bumper sessions towards the end of May with over 30 Small Elephant Hawkmoth and 66 Cream spot Tiger moths over 3 nights.