Todays blog illustrates one of the reports put together by the Chanel Islands ringing scheme. In bird ringing terminology we call it a ‘recovery’. This is effectively covers a number of scenarios; either a bird originally ringed in Alderney later seen by birdwatchers able to provide and report the ring number. A bird caught by other bird ringers at a location outside the original place of ringing. Or as is the case here, a deceased bird from which the ring on its leg has been examined and reported. As you can see from the information below this is quite a special record. Though sadly the bird has passed on, it has been found in Holland 556km from where it was originally ringed on Les Etacs Alderney by the ABO’s own Paul Veron (a member of this past weekends seabird ringing team and Founder of Alderney Bird Observatory). The remarkable part of this particular recovery report is that Paul ringed this Gannet as a baby in its nest on Les Etacs on 10th June 1989 ! 27yrs and 16 days prior to the day it was found in Holland. The oldest Gannet recovery ever recorded is 37 years 5 months, but still this record for an Alderney bird is still exceptionally good and one of the oldest Gannets ever recorded.
A male Sparrowhawk was seen over Mannez Nature Reserve this afternoon and there was a single ringed Plover on Saye Beach.
The Bee orchids in the harbour are now coming to and end.
The star of the day was a very obliging Grey seal that was present with the rising tide in Longis Bay from about 2pm and still around at 5pm. Cathy and I watched him from the Obs first floor windows as he caught and devoured a very large fish. It was predominantly and awful day of wet and windy weather here today. I understand rough seas are good times to have a chance of seeing seals in calmer bays outside their breeding season, and that was certainly the case this afternoon.
Curlew numbers continue to rise with 12 on Longis Beach at high tide along with a Little Egret. There was also a mixed flock of about 20 House martins and Swallows feeding over low the sea.
Curlews in Longis bay this afternoon – photo David Child
Two recently fledged White Wagtails were on the path towards the Target Wall this morning. Before the rain set in an Egret on Longis beach gave me a scare: the bird had entirely greeny/yellow legs raising hopes of a white morph Reef Heron but a bit of checking showed that 1st year Little Egrets display this leg colour. The bird showed well but flew off towards Mannez lighthouse at about 4pm. Attempts to re-locate the Egret/Heron were negative as heavy rain set in. It is at least the first June record of Little Egret for Alderney. As other beaches were checked we did find a Grey Plover on Longis beach along with 5 Curlews and a Whimbrel. On Bray Beach were 9 Black headed Gull and a fine pair of adult Mediterranean Gulls, perhaps early or failed breeders.
The first outing for the Obs moth trap in a few days brought in more new species for the Obs list (not surprising given the island has recorded over 800 species) Amongst over 30 species by far the most common were the Large Yellow Underwing and Heart & Clubs moths. There were also plenty of both Buff and White Ermin. A favourite of mine is the Orache moth of which we had our 2nd this year (another male) New species included Rosy Footman, True Lover’s Knot, Lacky and the extraordinary Lappet moth amongst a few others yet to be verified.
Currently, at several locations either side of Longis road between the Obs and the Lighthouse are magnificent flowering clusters of Pyramidal Orchids and on higher dryer ground impressive spreads of Vipers Bugloss.
Late additions records are of a Turtle Dove seen near Mannez Quarry 19th June and two Grey seal records, one heard in Longis Bay 24th June and one seen off Fort Clonque 25th June.
True Lover’s Knot
A good morning’s mist netting by the visiting seabird ringers saw 37 more new birds ringed including our first 2016 hatch Linnet, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Meadow Pipit. A further recently fledged Song Thrush makes 15 young Song Thrushes ringed this month just in the vicinity of the observatory. Given this species has declined by over 50% in the UK since 1970 and is on the RSPB ‘Red List’ of birds of conservation concern, it is interesting that Song Thrushes are doing so well here on Alderney. It is possible that the total absence of Mapies on the island is a contributing factor, as the Song Thrush nests are not subject to Magpie predation as they are on the mainland where Magpie numbers have steadily increased.
First year Song Thrush
Today there were 2 Curlew on Longis Beach and a male Sparrowhawk was seen over the Obs.
Last day for the seabird ringers who today visited the offshore islet of Cocque Lihou. A total of 16 Guillemots, 7 Razorbills, 4 Great Black-backed Gulls, 9 Shags and 3 Oystercatchers (one pictured below) were ringed. These auk figures are the second highest recorded for Alderney in any single year since 1953.
Somewhere in the region of 800 seabirds have been ringed this weekend. The GPS Tags fitted to 12 individual Gannets are now all sending out clear signals allowing us to observe and map their movements. Once I get everyone’s photos in, and the final weekend totals, I will add them to the blog.
Returning to the Obs this afternoon, we ringed 4 Song Thrush and 4 Swallow pulli.
Young Oystercatcher: ringed and being returned to the nest.