Winds dropped considerably overnight, this morning was crisp and sunny with a ground frost in places. There was very little passerine visual migration compared to yesterday, the only bird of note a Swallow over Longis reserve for a couple of hours early afternoon. In Longis Bay a single Brent Goose.
Conditions were perfect for ringing and a long day in the field yielded some great results with 2 species added to the Alderney ringing list now standing at 99, one of these a species never before recorded on Alderney. In total 109 birds were processed from an impressive 20 species between Essex Farm and Longis reserve. Totals: Snipe 1, Blackbird 15, Song Thrush 7, Redwing 9, Wren 20, Dunnock 4, Robin 13, Blackcap 5, Chiffchaff 3, Pallas’s Warbler 1 (new for Alderney), Goldcrest 2, Firecrest 1, Great Tit 17, Blue Tit 1, Starling 1, House Sparrow 1, Chaffinch 2, Linnet 1, Goldfinch 1, and Greenfinch 4
Pallas’s Warbler – Longis nature reserve – photo – Joe England
Common Snipe – Longis Common- Photo – ABO
This morning was clear that lots of birds were moving again (perhaps ahead of the coming cold spell). There were about 100 Fieldfares on the golf course and Chaffinches also regularly passing over. The Black-necked Grebe was in the same area in Braye Baye. The highlight of the day was a Common Crane, our 2nd of the year, spotted by Paul and Catherine Veron flying over Barrackmasters lane at 12:30, the bird was observed heading towards Corbletts. Shortly afterwards the Verons saw a single Swallow, an amazing late record exceeding the islands latest ever Swallow record (21st Nov 2005).
East winds continue to blow strongly all day accompanied by blue skies and sunshine. Joe England found a Black-necked Grebe in Braye Bay taking our species for the year to 181. An increase in Fieldfares through today approximately 200 over. Also 2 Shelduck, 3 Mediterranean Gulls and 1 Brent Goose flew by Mannez lighthouse. Also in Braye Bay 4 Meditteranean Gulls, 3 Grey Plovers, 1 Duniln, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Ringed Plovers and 4 Turnstones. On Longis reserve 3 Little Grebes, 5 Teal, 1 Shoveler and 5 Snipe. Finally 15 Lapwings over Kiln farm fields and 1 Grey Wagtail at the farm.
Black-necked Grebe – Braye Bay – photo – Joe England
Continued easterly winds increased to storm force again by late afternoon. The Greenfinch flock is back on Longis common and now about 40 strong. Visual migration again evident today with about 200 Redwings, 30 Fieldfare and 50 Chaffinches over longis this morning. Plenty of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes around too. At about 1530 I checked Longis bay as the light began to fade and spotted 4 ducks out near fort Raz. This is not unusual as there are regularly Mallards in the bay. The birds were too far out to identify through bins but as I watched them they all suddenly dived ruling out Mallard and sending me rushing for my scope and our assistant warden Joe. We soon picked up the birds again and it was clear using more powerful optics that we were watching a raft of Scoters. Better still the face pattern on the 3 females and the white wing patches apparent when individual birds flapped their wings identified the birds as Velvet scoters. We drove out to fort Razz where just off shore the birds showed very well. A rare chance to see this species so well, as they are generally only seen in flight on sea watches and usually at some distance. This species had never been recorded on Alderney before but today that particular duck was broken in style ! Bird Species 292 on the Alderney bird list.
Velvet Scoter – Longis Bay – photo – Joe England
Photo taken holding mobile phone camera against scope eye-piece
Ringing returned another 38 new birds nudging us over 1000 new birds ringed this month. Thrushes dominating again (31). See ringing totals page for full list.
After a couple more days of awful weather our only record of note in the last 48hrs is a Sandwich Tern in Longis Bay. It was great to get out this morning to ring at one of our primary sites Mannez quarry. The east and north-east winds simply do not penetrate this site and migrant birds quickly find this sheltered location. Opening the nets at 0630 we put up a couple of Woodcock and our first net round found 2 Woodcocks, a first winter bird and an adult in the nets. Flocks of Redwing 10 to 30 strong dropped into the quarry throughout the morning, flying over the quarry we had a flock of 35 Fieldfare and about 50 Chaffinches.
New birds ringed: Woodcock 2, Redwing 28, Song Thrush 7, Blackbird 2, Wren 3, Robin 1, Firecrest 2, Goldcrest 1 and Chiffchaff 1.
Woodcocks Mannez quarry – on the left as you look at the photo is the (more ginger in overall colour) juvenile, the grayer adult on the right.