Late news from yesterday of a Yellow Legged Gull on Bray Beach, our first record this year for this species.
A second day of Easterly winds made quite a difference here with lots of new birds around. There was a flock of 26 Linnet on the golf course with a White Wagtail, 3 more White Wagtails and 2 Yellow Wagtails at Whitegates and another White Wag and a Curlew on Longis beach. A Hobby over the road beside Bray, 4 Whimbrel, a female Peregrine and a male Kestrel over Longis reserve this morning and 5 Whimbrel over Saye beach this afternoon. 50+ Swallows through during the day and also a Stock Dove over the Obs. Generally more passerines on the ground which was reflected in the ringing.
16 new birds were ringed with the nets shut at 1030am due to increasing winds. Total included 5 Swallows, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Sedge Warblers and 4 Whitethroats. Easterly winds continue overnight with early showers before turning SE so hopefully more new birds tomorrow!
A new one for me (most are) in the moth trap today was this Vine’s Rustic. A species new to Alderney about 10yrs ago but now fairly common here.
Vine’s Rustic – Hoplodrina ambigua
The singing Nightingale was heard again this morning at the same location on Longis reserve. I had a female Peregrine over the reserve early afternoon and it was good to see a 30 strong group of Starlings consisting of at least a dozen recently fledged individuals. Lastly, a cracking male Black Redstart in the Obs garden this evening at 2030hrs.
Strong winds overnight prevented use of the moth trap, winds persisted until mid afternoon putting a halt on any ringing activity. This did at least allow the opportunity to maintain the net ride vegetation that has grown extensively over the last week. Improved conditions late afternoon allowed me to open one net beside the hide producing 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Whitethroat. Paul and Catherine Veron managed some early evening ringing at Mannez; the new birds were 1 Blackcap, 1 Reed Warbler and a Great Tit. At 5pm the local Brownies and Rainbows group visited the Obs to chat about birds and see some ringing. I have to say what an impeccably behaved group of polite young ladies they were ! A credit to the troop leaders well done all concerned. The session also involved one of the ABO’s ringing trainees giving their first public ringing demonstration so a very productive and enjoyable evening all round.
Alderney Brownies at the Obs help me decide the eye colour of a Whitethroat towards determining the age of the bird.
Today a Black Kite was over the golf club at 1330hrs (I finally caught up with one) Robert Manzano Rubio reported a Nightingale singing on Longis Nature reserve at 10am and again at 11am, the naturetrek group were lucky enough to see the bird, this is a very late migration record for this species and may indicate a male attempting to breed. Robert also heard Bee-eater over Longis today. Lois Lelacheur reports a Merlin along Longis sea defence wall. There was a Kestrel over the reserve this evening and 2prs of Shelduck in Longis Bay.
Priority this morning was a meeting with the Alderney States members to deliver our 5yr business plan for the observatory to secure funding for its progress and future, so I was unable to do any ringing. Just time to check the moth trap which again had some real beauty’s including a Hawkmoth and 2 more Tiger moths.
Small Elephant Hawkmoth – Deilephila porcellus
1 of 2 Cream Spot Tiger moths in the trap today
There were 6 Whimbrel on Longis Common this morning and a male Serin flew over the reserve at about 10am. A late report from yesterday is of a Black Kite over Giffoine observed by Steve Roberts.
Ringing on Longis nature reserve today was slow going just 6 new birds: 5 Reed Warblers and a Blackcap. There were at least a few birds for the Naturetrek group to see for their bird ringing demo at the Obs, and the added bonus of a superb Tiger Moth in the Obs moth trap. Winds are turning to the East overnight and for the next few days which should bring us in a few more new birds.
Cream-spot Tiger / Arctia villica britannica
Today, the latest visiting Naturetrek group had a productive session emptying the moth traps with our resident expert David Wedd and they later reported a Spotted Flycatcher from Longis nature reserve.
Caroline Yates reports: “While walking towards Gannets/Giffoine, just past the last pen of pigs in the gorse on the left side of the path, we saw a pair of Dartford Warblers in the gorse, clearly nesting and working as a pair together“. Dartford Warblers have been reported from several locations this spring, hinting they may be heading for a good year. Numbers on the island are thought to be low but the number of sightings and reports this spring is very encouraging.
Ringing: A wonderfully still and warm morning but, given the threat of heavy showers, I limited myself to a couple of nets a stone’s throw from the Obs at Essex Farm. Westerly winds gradually increased as the day went on. My restricted but very enjoyable session ended with 15 new ringed birds and migrants are still coming through here, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Warblers and 1 Blackcap plus a UK ‘control’ Chiffchaff. Interestingly all 6 Chiffchaffs were very heavy birds with plenty of fat and muscle. Also ringed were 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Wren.
One of today’s Song Thrushes, a bird I took to be in its 2nd yr, showed quite clear differentiation of colour between the retained old greater coverts against the moulted new ones. Maybe I have just overlooked this feature but on this bird it seemed very clear and is perhaps something more prominent in the European nominate race (see below outer 3 OGC’s browner than inner olive ones).