A huge week for Alderney bird observatory. States members (local MP’s) gathered on Wednesday evening at the local government chambers to decide on whether to pass a motion to renovate the Nunnery, home of the newly established bird observatory & Field centre. We are delighted to announce that the motion was passed and extensive works will begin later this summer with a view to opening the bird observatory and field centre to staying guests Spring 2018. A big thank you to all the states members who have supported the ABO project and to the army of volunteers who are the engine room of our efforts. Also to all of those who have added crucial financial support during our first year of operations by becoming members of the ABO. It has been extremely frustrating in trying to properly deal with enquiries from people wanting to stay this year, as we have been in limbo as to when or if the building works was being undertaken, if at all. The States decision does now mean that the bird observatory itself will not be able to accommodate any visitors this autumn but there are plenty of other excellent places to stay at (see the visit Alderney website) Some establishments are offering discounts for guests booking via the ABO and we have also secured a good discount on local car hire. On the back of last autumns deluge of birds we will still be looking for ringers/birders to assist with our recording program. If you are interested please contact [email protected] for a list of discounted accommodations.
As if the week could not get any better, the ABO then swooped the top award at the Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards 2017 held in Guernsey. The award of ‘Best Conservation Project’ was accepted by Catherine Hanlon from the ABO HQ at The Nunnery. She was accompanied by Chris Mourant, Tim Earl and Richmond & Margaret Austin all important contributors to the success story that is Britain’s newest bird observatory. Thanks also to Catherine Veron for putting together our application which brought about the judges visiting the ABO in person.
Mandy Hunt, Managing Director from Insurance Corporation, said ” Awarding the top prize of £1,500 to the Alderney Bird Observatory was a unanimous decision. Alderney is an incredible place to view a wide variety of birds, especially sea birds. It is also one of the least well studied so the observatory is a much-needed resource. The island sits on several major flyways and sees large numbers of birds from Britain and the Continent. Alderney can make an important contribution to scientific studies of bird populations and provide data to help protect them. We feel this is an extremely worthy project and a well-deserved winner of our funding.”
I would like to add here that the Insurance corporation has been holding this conservation award for nearly 30 years. I thought it very impressive that they actually go and visit each project in the field to see it operating. We were delighted to host the representatives from the insurance corporation at the ABO and over the moon to win this prestigious award. It was particularly gratifying to see my partner Cathy attend the awards ceremony to receive the award. Thank you to all who made this possible but especially to Cathy who holds down a full time job and does a tremendous amount of work at, and for the observatory behind the scenes as our team strive to get the ABO on its feet.
14th, Justin saw a dark phase Pomarine Skua from one of the AWT seabird tourist boat trips. This is the first spring record for Alderney for this species.
15th, A Cuckoo was singing at Essex Hill around 0545hrs. Later in the day David Child reported a Hobby hunting over trois vaux and a Swift in the same area. This is an opportunity to thank David for donating a ‘sightings board’ to the ABO. The board is updated daily and is placed in front of the Nunnery gates. The Obs moth trap contained a Bordered Sallow (pictured) which occurs in Alderney but not the other Channel Islands. Monitoring of shorebird nests continues, 5 Ringed Plover nets now located thanks to a lot of patience from Justin !
16th, Quite a day for cetaceans. A large pod of around 40 Bottlenose Dolphins entered Braye harbour mid morning and remained until just after mid day. They headed around Bibette Head and were observed passing Longis Bay at 1230. From here they headed along the south cliffs just off shore. As they passed Longis a Grey seal put in an appearance just north of the causeway.
17th – Amongst 31 species in the Obs moth trap this morning was our first Garden Tiger moth of the year. Ringing produced plenty of recently fledged birds and a male Blackbird that we first processed during the ABO’s first ever ringing session in March 2016. There was a Mediterranean Gull over Braye harbour at lunch time. Paul Verin reported seeing a Little Egret and Grey seal in Corbletts bay along with a distant pod of at least 10 dolphins. David Child saw 5 Swifts over Little street. Justin had 2 Grey Herons over Longis bay.
An unusual find by Paul and Catherine Veron, who whilst walking to the chippy came across a Manx Shearwater sheltering between two boats in the boat yard ! Probably having crash landed overnight, the bird was in excellent condition but rather vulnerable so transported to the Observatory. Only hours earlier Justin and I were discussing the potential of how we might facilitate a sea-bird rescue and rehabilitation area. This bird thankfully only needed a rescue and being a nocturnal species, it was later released off fort Razz at dusk, flying strongly out to sea. Always nice to have a happy ending.
18th – 22 Bottlenose Dolphins were seen off the south cliffs headed towards clonque. Justin and I checked several Swallow nests during late afternoon, most contained chicks but only about half were old enough to ring. The Swallows find the abandonned WW11 german bunkers ideal for nesting, many bunkers are beyond the footpaths and largely undisturbed. Finally, this evening 29 Oystercatcher on Longis beach.