Still lots of birds around today but the gusting winds were certainly not ideal birding conditions. A flock of 8 Dunlin (not a common bird here) were reported by the Naturetrek group and 2 Whimbrel spotted by Dr.S Robertson beside the road to Bibette. I had a female Siskin feeding on the ground under the conifers beside Longis car park just after lunch. There was an increase in Wheatears with birds reported from several locations and having taken a quick look on Longis beach from the Obs ramparts before attending to this report, I saw 2 Brent Geese on the beach.
Ringing today was with the assistance of one of the Obs helper/trainee’s Heike Peck, we were able to keep the nets running and fit in another ringing demo for Naturetrek who again got lucky seeing Pied Fly and Common Redstart males amongst some 25 birds they saw processed. The days return came from just 4 nets around Essex farm where the terrain afforded good shelter from the winds. Another good fall of migrants saw 121 birds processed. There was a much more even split of the two common phyllosc species: 39 Willow Warblers and 20 Chiffchaffs (yesterday 125 against 6). The good numbers of Common Redstart seen and ringed over the last few days improved still further with 10 new individuals ringed today along with singles of Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Goldcrest, also 28 Blackcap, 2 male Pied Flycatchers and 5 Sedge Warblers made for another quality days ringing on Alderney.
Hoopoe Barrackmasters Lane – Photo Richard Wilby (24th March)
Whimbrels beside the road to Bibette today – Photo Dr. S Roberstson
Winds continued NE gradually fading throughout the day to a very beautiful still sunny evening.
This morning John Weir and I ringed on Longis reserve until mid-day. We had 3 Common Sandpipers on the man-made island at first light and 20+ Hirundines over the pond. There was another good fall of migrants today particularly of Willow Warblers with up to 60 individuals on the sewage works at one time ! I had a delightful early afternoon session with the island ‘Watch’ group (the Alderney youth wildlife group) at Mannez Quarry. PM there was a male Pied Flycatcher in Barrackmasters Lane where the Hoopoe showed well in one of the private gardens. Robert from the AWT had 2 Pied Fly in the same area. The Brent Goose was again in Longis Bay. At 1630 the licensed island ringers (all 3 of us!) combined forces and I was joined by Paul and Catherine Veron to ring Essex farm which was again very busy with migrant birds.
The Naturetrek group had Common Redstarts into double figures, 3 Whinchats, 3 swifts a female pied flycatcher a and Dartford warbler today.
Ringing: 216 birds were processed today including some 125 Willow Warblers, 49 Blackcaps, 8 Whitethroats, 6 Chiffchaffs, 5 Common Redstarts, 4 Reed Warblers, 3 Goldcrests, 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler. Highlight was a ‘Control’ Chiffchaff ringed in Denmark (pictured below).
1st yr Chiffchaff with Danish ring – Essex farm
Male Stonechat – photographed nr the Odeon today by Dr. Sandy Robertson
A Hoopoe was reported by Mark Atkinson from Rose Farm early this morning but it evaded the Naturetrek group who were later lucky enough to get excellent views of a male Pied Flycatcher in Longis car park followed up by a male Common Redstart in the hand during a ringing demonstration for the tour at the Obs. A Hoopoe (presumably the earlier bird) spent much of its day in a back garden in Barrack Masters Lane. The bird was photographed by the resident who stopped me by chance near the Obs hours later to show me some nice photos of it. Hopefully these shots will come through to us soon and be added to this site. The Brent Goose was still present in Longis Bay where 2 Sandwich Terns were also seen. A Ring Ouzel was seen at Giffione.
Paul and Catherine Veron ringed Mannez Quarry his morning producing 47 birds 35 of which were Blackcaps ! Paul also had 2 Whitethroat. I ringed Essex Farm today and as usual the Willow Warblers were in impressive numbers around the sewage works with a further 46 new birds ringed. Other birds ringed included our first Garden Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff 13 Whitethroat, 17 Blackcap, 4 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch, a male Siskin and 2 Common Redstarts brought the total at Essex Farm to 104 and a total of 151 birds processed on Alderney today.
Garden Warbler – Essex Farm
1st yr Male Siskin – Essex Farm
A bumper days birding and ringing on the island today as migrants came flooding through.
On Longis reserve I flushed a Wryneck shortly after first light and 2 Whimbrel made themselves heard as they passed over. There was a single Green Sandpiper beside the pond and a Reed Warbler showing well from the hide. Common Redstarts were reported from near the airport and Mannez reserve. Martin Batt and David Shutte reported 6 Wheatears on Longis common, a Hobby and a 40 strong flock of Yellow Wagtails around The Lighthouse. Further reports from Anne -Isabelle Boulon were of a Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 3 Wheatears at Vaindsaire and a Ring Ouzel and female Common Redstart and female Black Redstart near Telegraph. I had a Hobby this afternoon over Essex farm and a splendid male Pied Flycatcher showed well at the edge of Longis beach car park. The Brent Goose was still in Longis bay. Paul Veron had a Grasshopper Warbler singing first thing this morning by the Lighthouse.
Ringing: It was truly hopping with birds on Longis Reserve this morning so much so that opening just three nets kept me busy enough to prevent me opening any more until around mid day at which point I had ringed over 100 birds, closing up at 1500hrs on 121 birds processed. Essex farm and the sewage works also looked very busy so from 3.30pm I switched to this site processing a further 72 birds by 7pm. 193 birds were processed between the two sites today and this included only 7 retraps. Paul Veron managed an early evening ringing session in Mannez Quarry adding a further 18 birds to the day total of 211, 202 new ringed birds covering 19 species between us. Pauls total included a 1st yr male Sparrowhawk, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. At Longis 41 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs, 14 Blackcaps 12 Sedge warblers, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 14 Whitethroat, 1 common Redstart and 2 Meadow Pipits. Essex farm again produced large numbers of Phylloscs with 54 Willow Warblers and 13 Chiffchaffs, other birds here included 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Common Redstart, and 2 firsts for this Spring, a Wood Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher.
Wood Warbler – Essex Farm (Barrack masters)
Spotted Flycatcher – Essex Farm
The winds shifted slightly to NE but at around half the strength of yesterday. These winds brought an increase in Meadow Pipit numbers with a flock 60-70 strong on longis common. I was delighted to see our first Common Sandpiper of the Spring from the hide at Longis this morning and enthralled to see a Peregrine narrowly miss out on it for breakfast. The fluttering wader ditched into the pond to escape the falcon then after it passed left the water and disappeared in the reeds. 2 Yellow wagtails chased one another across the reserve pond mid morning and a Sparrowhawk took one of the many House Martins passing through today. Other reports were from from Robert Manzano Rubio of a flock of 18 Yellow Wagtails over Longis common this evening and a Brent Goose in Longis Bay. A single Brent Goose (possibly the same bird) was reported as being in the Fort Clonque area by Dr Robertson yesterday
Ringing: was undertaken at both Longis and Mannez reserves this morning. Both sites returned a similar number of birds and the combined day toal of 68 birds processed. New species for the Spring included Tree Pipit and Sparrowhawk, also ringed were 2 Redstart, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Sedge Warblers, 2 Whitethroat and 3 Swallows.
The new birds ringed total now stands at 2363 birds in 7 weeks. I will soon be placing species specific daily totals on the Ringing totals page of this site and backdating this information to 4th March 2016.
On extracting a Song Thrush this morning I was immediately taken by how grey/fawn the bird was on the nape,mantle and rump. So much so that the warmer brown crown and flight feathers really stood out against the grey that was kin to the colour I have seen on the upper parts when ringing Mistle Thrush. Indeed on the open wing the grey lesser and median coverts really contrasted against the brown flight feathers.This individual, particularly given that from the greater coverts and tail was clearly a first yr bird, showed a differentiation between grey and brown parts unlike the UK birds I am used to, and have seen passing through on migration so far on Alderney. I believe the individual to be the nominate European sub-species philomelos philomelos. Photo below.
1st yr Tree Pipit – Longis Reserve
Adult male Sparrowhawk – Longis reserve
1st yr Song Thrush ssp philomelos – Longis Reserve