24th – Pre breakfast birding with Naturetrek produced a Hobby over the air field, Black headed gull, Whimbrel and 2 common Sandpipers at Braye Bay, Ringed plover at Saye Bay, 2 Dunlin at Longis Bay, and a Ring Ouzel at rose farm. Ringing at Longis reserve included 5 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats and a Redstart. A Redstart and two Garden Warblers were ringed at Essex Farm and 2 Tree Pipits were ringed at Mannez. In the afternoon at Giffoine the Naturetrek group discovered a Raven nest containing a well developed chick, several Whitethroats, a male Redstart, 4 Sparrowhawks in off the sea and good views of a Grasshopper warbler. Moving on we had a Whimbrel and Wheatear at Houme Herbe then from Longis reserve hide 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Sedge Warbler and a Whinchat, on Longis common were around 30 Wheatears. Other sightings included 4 Cormorants over Barrackmasters lane.
25th – A good start to Naturetrek last morning was the whole group catching up with a Ring Ouzel at Fort Albert. The Wood Sandpiper was still present on Longis pond, now with 3 Green Sandpipers, a Black headed Gull, Water Rail and 2 Snipe. Pied Flycatchers were reported from Barrackmasters Lane, Houme Herbe and Vau de Saou where a Wood Warbler was also spotted. Grasshopper Warbler, Ring Ouzel, Hobby and 2 Tree Pipits were also reported from Barrackmasters lane. An estimated 200+ Wheatear were present across the island with 72 in one field at Sur la ville. Redstarts were seen at the Obs garden, kiln farm fields and 2 at St.Annes. In the afternoon a Swift was seen over the Giffione and a Cuckoo was a Fort Albert.
Cuckoo – Fort Albert – Photo – Wayne Turner
Wood Sandpiper – Longis pond – photo – Paul James
Ring Ouzel – Longis Common – Photo – Paul James
Dunlin – Longis Bay – photo – ABO
26th – Ringing at Longis included Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Garden Warbler and at Mannez ringing included a Redstart and Garden Warbler. Our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was found at Barrackmasters lane along with 2 Pied Flycatchers. Another Pied Flycatcher was at Giffione where there was also a Redstart and a Grasshopper warbler reeling. A Yellow Wagtail was at Fort Albert. In Longis Bay 10 Turnstones, 5 Whimbrel and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. Green and Wood Sandpipers still on Longis pond and a Marsh Harrier was seen over Barrackmasters lane. In the afternoon we were delighted to welcome our patron Dame Mary Perkins to the observatory. On her arrival a Hobby provided an excellent low ‘fly past’ over the obs allowing me to comment on the excellent location of the obs for observing visual migration !
Pied Flycatcher – Barracmasters Lane – Photo – Wayne Turner
27th – Ringing at Rose farm produced a Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart. At Mannez ringing included Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Firecrest and 2 Pied Flycatcher. There were 2 Common Sandpipers in Longis bay and a Merlin was seen over the observatory. A Grey Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit were seen at clonque.
Common Redstart – Mannez Quarry – photo – John Hodson
28th – A Tree Pipit was ringed at Longis reserve. PM saw our assembled seabird ringing team set off to Little Burhou island. Here we expanded the islands excellent and long-standing seabird monitoring program by ringing 13 Cormornat chicks. From Burhou we also saw a Marsh Harrier and on the island a pair of Shelduck and a Wheatear.
Cormornat chicks – Little Burhou – photo Fegus Henderson.
29th – Ringing at Rose Farm produced a fine adult male Sparrowhawk, a male Redstart and a Garden Warbler. At Mannez there was a good fall with Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers well into double figures. Ringers had a UK ringed Sedge Warbler along with Pied Flycatcher, Wood warbler, Redstart and Garden warbler. A Greenshank, Snipe and Green Sandpiper were at the quarry pond. 3 Yellow Wagtails were on Longis Common. A male Redstart and 2 Whinchats were seen at the geese field at Giffione where Grasshopper Warbler was again singing. At Platte Saline there were 2 Sanderling, 9 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper. A cuckoo was calling at the Golf Course.
Adult male Sparrowhawk – Rose Farm – photo – Fergus Henderson
Wood Warbler – Mannez reserve – photo – Paul Veron
The visiting ringers took advantage of the excellent conditions and headed to Mannez Quarry late afternoon where some 61 birds were processed including this stunning Golden Oriole. This species is recorded at spring migration time during most years, but this is the first ringing record.
Male Golden Oriole – Mannez quarry – photo – Justin Hart
30th – There was ringing at Mannez for a short period before rain set in and migrants processed included a Tree Pipit. 4 further Tree Pipits, a Greenshank and a Black headed Gull flew over and there were 2 Grey Herons, 1 Green Sandpiper and 1 Snipe on Mannez pond. Paul & Catherine Veron and David Wedd reported a good variety of waders from Platte Saline the high counts of which were 2 Ringed Plovers, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 8 Dunlin and 12 Sanderlings. There were also 6 White wagtails present. A cuckoo was heard along Braye Beach road by our seabird project officer Abbie.
Tree Pipit – Mannez quarry – photo – John Hodson
A big thank you to the visiting researchers Wayne Turner, Mark Guppy, Fergus Henderson, John Hodson, Paul & Sue James, Pippa Farrell, Rakki Powell, Linda Lowndes, Ron Timms and Tim and Liz Earl. Also to the Naturtrek group and to the two groups of UK and Guernsey bird watchers I met in our new ‘Naturetrek’ hide at Longis reserve today, thanks for your records.
A nice fall at Mannez where 40 birds processed included 2 Redstarts. We also had our first Reed Bunting of the year, a male also at Mannez
The view from the hide at Mannez nature reserve – photo – Linda Lowndes
18th – 3 Ring Ouzels and a male Redstart at Rose farm where we had a fair movement of Blackcaps with 22 ringed.
19th – Redstart was ringed at Essex farm and at Mannez, another was seen at the golf course. Male Pied Flycatchers at Rose Farm and Grand Marie. The star birds today were 2 birds of prey. Soon after first light a Black Kite spotted by our assistant warden Justin headed over Longis common and was then was observed miniutes later over Mannez reserve heading out towards France. At 1920 an Osprey was being mobbed by gulls over the observatory before it headed out over fort razz flying strongly against the wind towards the french coast.
21st – Our first Naturetrek tour group of the year arrived late afternoon and having done a quick check an hour earlier decided on a diversion on route to the hotel to Whitegates field. Here there were 11 Yellow Wagtails, 2 white Wagtails, 1 Pied Wagatail, 40 Meadow Pipits and 5 Wheatears. Last spring we did very well with Yellow Wagtails and it was again super to see good numbers on migration. Also, 31 Wheatears at Sur la ville.
Ringing at Mannez by Paul and Catherine Veron produced a new species for the site, a female Bullfinch. We had no spring records last year.
Female Bullfinch – Mannez – photo – Paul Veron
22nd – A great start to the day was a Marsh Warbler singing in the Obs garden. The bird was present for about 10 minutes showing briefly before heading off towards Essex Farm. We began with a ringing demonstration for Naturetrek at the observatory where migrants in the hand included Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and a superb male Whinchat.
Whinchat – Longis reseve – photo Linda Lowndes
Swallows and Martins were flooding through from dawn til dusk with an estimated 2500 Swallows, 500 Sand Martins and 150 House Martin conservative estimates. Late morning after taking in 30+ flowering Green-winged Orchids Naturetrek found a Wood Sandpiper on Longis Common, (6th record for Alderney). In the afternoon those who headed to Longis pond to see the Wood Sandpiper found it had been joined by a Green Sandpiper, also present 7 Yellow Wagtails, 22 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats and a singing Grasshopper Warbler. A group of 4 Hampshire ringers/birds arrived and kicked off by ringing a spring Swallow roost at Longis pond processing 49 birds. Over 150 birds ringed in total today.
23rd – In the morning there were 20+ Wheatears, 1 Ring Ouzel on Longis Common and a Whinchat at Whitegates. At Clonque Bay Naturetrek found a cracking summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwit, our first one this spring, plus 4 Whimbrels, 4 Rock Pipits and a Turnstone. Also a flock of 6 Cormorants over Cambridge Battery. Sue James found a male Pied Flycatcher at Mannez Quarry and Paul and Catherine Veron had another at Barrackmasters Lane.
A very busy week one way or another. Visiting ringers/birders Linda Lowndes, Barry Summers and Chris & Richard Dufeu all made valuable contributions to our recording and research. Chris additionally to bird ringing looking at the various species of slug inhabiting Alderney, finding new species thought not to have been previuosly recorded here. The male Garganey remained on Mannez quarry whilst the elusive Hoopoe was seen up until the 14th, last observed by Anne-Isabelle Boulon in Barrackmasters Lane. Also on the 14th Lois le Lacheur found and photographed a fine male Ring Ouzel on Longis common where a cuckoo was also seen, possibly the same cuckoo was heard at Barrackmasters lane. On the 10th we recorded our first Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat of the spring, both ringed at Longis reserve. On the 13th a Hobby hurtled over the golf course headed north no sign of stopping, other migrants that day were a Fieldfare, Greenshank and 2 Whimbrels all ‘fly overs’ at Longis common while at the same venue showing well a cracking Blue headed Yellow Wagtail, in the afternoon there were 30 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and a House Martin over Longis pond.
Some of this weeks highlights in no particular order were:
13th April – Mist netting on Longis common produced our first ringed Wheatear of this spring. A very robust first year male whose measurements confirmed it to be the larger ‘Greenland’ race leucorhoa. Shortly after we caught a second Wheatear that was entirley and clearly a comparatively smaller slighter bird
Greenland Wheatear – photo – ABO
14th April – One of my favourite moths from last year made its first appearance in the OBS trap.
Pale Prominent moth – Obs moth trap – photo ABO
11th April – Song Thrush – Ssp Philomelos.
A real bonus of being at such a great migration spot is the opportunity to see interesting sub species and geographical variations. Last year we had a couple of these very pale/grey Song Thrushes that meet the criteria I can find that suggests they are the nominate ssp philomelos. Whilst variation of Song Thrush sub species is generally considered clinal and at best ‘slight’; these predominantly grey birds really stand out. Indeed the only brown/rufous parts consistent with the British ssp clarkei are the outer flight feathers depicted below where the grey against brown contrast across the wing is very clear. The underparts of philomelos are much paler as are the markings around the eye and ear coverts.
Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail – Longis Common – photo – ABO
The next Blog update will be PM 17th April.