Another very busy period of recording through ringing, our daily census and island wide birding produced its share of exciting records and several ringing days involving over 100 birds. Some excellent and important records thrown up by the bird ringing also came in this week; news of a Blackbird first ringed at Longis reserve Alderney in November 2016 was re-trapped by bird ringers in Hallenberg Germany 24th October 2018. A Blackcap first ringed here at Essex farm in May 2016 was found by ringers at Portland Bill Dorset in April this year. Also this week our local ringing produced a French ringed Dunnock (a species rarely recorded as migratory) and a Goldfinch first ringed in the UK (further details are awaited concerning both birds from their respective ringing schemes). These latest records continue to solidly evidence the importance of Alderney as a stopover for birds during migration.
8 Brent Geese passed Chateau L’etoc on the 28th, there were two along the NE coastline on the 29th and a single bird on the 31st. A single Shelduck was on Longis pond 29th & 30th. Teal at the same location peaking at 3 on the 28th. There was a Marsh Harrier over Longis reserve on the 27th and on the 30th a superb Rough Legged Buzzard showed very well along the NE coast where it was photographed on one of the cottages near to the lighthouse. The bird favoured the chimney pot (see below photo) from which it kept dropping down into the cottage back garden then back up onto the building roof again. This was the first record for our new observatory, last recorded in Alderney in 2009.
Rough-legged Buzzard – Mannez – Photos – John Horton/ABO
Merlin was seen at the Giffoine 28th and Barrackmasters Lane 29th. A high count of Oystercatchers at high tide in Clonque Bay was 142 birds. 3 Grey Plovers were in Saye bay 31st. A flock of 18 Lapwings were in the fields towards Vallee des Trois Vaux on the 28th. Snipe numbers reached 8 on Longis pond on the 25th and two Woodcocks were put up whilst the ringing nets were opened at Mannez on the 29th. The last Bar-tailed Godwit record was one at Longis bay on the 22nd and the high count of Curlews was 32 at Clonque Bay on the 28th. Sea watches brought us a record of Great Skua on the 27th and 3 more on the 28th. Mediterranean Gull numbers suggest up to 30 Individuals are present between Houme Herbe and Clonque. A single Lesser black backed Gull was between Clonque and Crabby bays 27th & 28th. An impressive 166 Herring Gulls were grounded in Clonque bay in the hard weather on the 28th. Kittiwakes 27th(31) & 28th(22) were seen off Chateau a l’Etoc. There are still one or two Sandwich Terns about the coastline. Surprised and delighted islander and trainee bird ringer Heike Peck had a Short eared Owl drop into her back garden which she promptly photographed with her phone ! (see below).
Short eared Owl – St.Annes – photo Heike Peck
Between the 29th & 31st 6 Woodlarks have been spotted passing over on migration. A big influx of various migrant songbirds included 100+ Skylarks on the 28th. Grey Wagtails were still being reported in one’s and two’s island wide until the 25th, the latest record one at Essex sewage works on the 30th. 4 Black Redstarts have been reported including 2 together on Mannez lighthouse wall on the 25th. There was an island wide influx of Blackbirds on the 30th along with good numbers of Song Thrushes. Redwing and Fieldfare flocks have been evident, 101 Redwings were ringed at Mannez on the 29th. Cetti’s Warblers appear to be settling in for the winter for the first time ever here in Alderney, likely down to the extended area of Lesser Reedmace covering Mannez reserve.
Mannez nature reserve at first light this week; a blanket of undisturbed Lesser Reedmace providing, security, warmth, shelter and a wealth of food for numerous migrant birds. Photo JH/ABO
Other unusual warbler records involved a probable migrant Dartford Warbler ringed at Mannez reserve 25th.
Dartford Warbler – Mannez reserve – Photo JH/ABO
The following day a very late moving Lesser Whitethroat ringed at Essex farm adjacent to the observatory. Single Yellow-browed Warblers were spotted at different locations on the 25th, 26th, 29th & 30th, the former ringed at Essex farm.
Yellow Browed Warbler – Essex farm – photo JH/ABO
Goldcrest numbers have increased towards the month end along with Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Starlings in many hundreds. Brambling records are starting to come in with 3 feeding amongst Chaffinches in St. Annes on the 28th and single birds from various locations reported daily for the last 3 days of the month. A female Bullfinch was ringed at Mannez on the 22nd and Reed Bunting records for this last reporting period of October have involved at least 5 individuals.
Unseasonal S & SE blows brought in some interesting bird records ahead of some NE winds that brought in our first influxes of winter thrushes and finches. The strong winds restricted the bird ringing for several days but gave the Obs team and its visiting guests opportunity to enjoy some first class autumn migration birding. The period since the last blog has seen 1 and possibly 2 new species of birds found never before recorded on this island. Ringing has been very busy with over 500 birds ringed over the last 4 days.
A single Manx Shearwater was seen off chateau L’etoc on the 11th, The Great White Egret first seen on the 8th was seen daily until the 11th, on each occasion flying over the observatory towards dusk. 7 Brent Geese passed Mannez lighthouse on the 18th and a single further bird was in Longis bay on the 20th. 2 Wigeon were on Longis pond on the 11th and possibly a 3rd birds was seen along the NE coast the same day. A Honey Buzzard was harassed by one of our local pairs of Common Buzzards over Whitegates fields on the 10th. Merlin has been seen on the 10th,12th & 16th, on the latter date one came in over Longis pond and took a Swallow in the air before going to bed on a full stomach. A Knot (first of the year) and Curlew Sandpiper were together at the wader roost NE end of Longis bay on the 10th. A single Bar-tailed Godwit has been present in Longis bay 17th-20th, our last Whimbrel record was one at Chateau L’etoc 11th. Peak Mediterranean Gull count was 11 at Braye bay on the 13th. 4 Sandwich Terns were off Huome Herbe 16th. On the 11th Assistant warden Justin and the visiting resident birders/ringers picked up a Swift species over the observatory and Essex Hill. The bird subsequently stayed in the same area for over an hour and visitor Paul James managed some half decent shots of it despite the 30mph winds. One of Pauls shots is below, after some deliberation the bird is being submitted as a Pallid Swift, which if accepted by the rare birds committee would be a first for Alderney. Interestingly over a 3 day period incorporating our date, 3 more potential sighting of this rare bird were made in Sussex, Kent and in Guernsey. Kingfisher has been seen along the NE coastline 13th,16th & 17th. Swallows and House Martins are still passing through with around 120 of the former roosting at Longis on the 16th and on the same day 60 of the latter of Alderney golf course. Only the 2nd record for Alderney of Tawny Pipit was found at Whitegates fields on the 10th, the bird, a very fine adult did not hang around more than 20 minutes. An influx of Meadow Pipits on the 18th consisted of around 140 birds. Regular reports of migrant Grey Wagtails have come from across the island and up to 25 White Wagtails have been roosting in Longis reedbed. Over 50 Robins were ringed 17th-20th, Wheatears are still being recorded along the NE coastline with records on the 1th,12th,13th 16th(2) and 20th. Our first large Fieldfare movements were on the 20th with individual flocks of 60+ and some 500 birds island wide. Redwing have been arriving in good numbers and over 200 ringed 15th-20th. 2 Mistle Thrushes were spotted on the 16th. 11th-18th 6 Cetti’s Warbler were ringed at Longis(4), Mannez(2). A Fan-tailed Warbler, likely another result of the strong south winds and warm weather, showed well at Telegraph on the 10th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was ringed at Rose Farm on the 19th. The first Goldcrest have been arriving the last few days and 14 Firecrests ringed since the 10th. Starling are moving in large numbers and good migrating Chaffinch numbers peaked at around 800 on the 18th. Passage Goldfinches numbers have also been good and 140 ringed these last 3 days. 15 Siskin were at Rose farm on the 15th. Capping off an exciting period of birding I had flights views only of what I felt was a Little Bunting on the evening of the 15th, only for Justin to find a Little Bunting near the target wall on the morning of the 16th. Probably the same bird was later at Mannez quarry. Reed Bunting, a surprisingly unusual bird here historically, have been present with 1 to 2 at Longis and up to 3 at Mannez between the 16th and 20th.
Late butterfly records include a Painted Lady and 3 Clouded Yellow on the 10th.
Thanks to visiting birding/ringing team Paul, Sue, Pippa, Lloyd and Rackie staying at the newly refurbished observatory, for your records and enthusiasm.
Dunlin (1st winter) Saye Bay – photo: Paul James
Pallid Swift (we think)- Over Alderney bird observatory Longis Bay, photo Paul James
Visiting birders and ringers watching Curlew Sandpiper and Great White Egret from the observatory Roman ramparts.
The first Redwings arrived on the evening of the 7th and between watching them and a Whinchat a superb perched Ring Ouzel at Longis reserve hide had our visiting group of Hampshire birders and ringers staying at the Obs spoilt for choice…
Little Egret reached 10 birds at the roost site on the 2nd. A Great White Egret obligingly passed over Longis reserve on the 8th to the delight of our assembled obs visitors. Also at Longis pond two male Wigeon dropped in at dusk on the 8th. Water Rails are up to at least 4 birds at Longis pond, 2 at Mannez pond and 2 at Rose Farm. Golden Plover were seen around across island on the 7th with a single over Rose farm, 4 passed Mannez lighthouse and 22 were gathered on fields near the airport. There were 5 Bar-tailed Godwit at Houme herbe on the 4th with 3 still present on the 7th in Longis Bay, also here 5 Whimbrel. A single Greenshank was at Longis pond on the 3rd and 5th. Up to 3 Mediterranean Gulls are being regularly seen, especially around Houme Herbe, a high count however was of 9 in Clonque bay on the 9th. The 50mph winds on the morning of the 7th had Gulls gathering off Clonque bay with 120 Black headed Gulls our highest total this year. Lesser Black backed Gull has not been seen since the 4th. Sandwich Terns sightings in 1 or 2 birds have been frequent. A nice total of 32 Stock Dove were feeding on fields at Gran Mare on the 7th. Following a movement of Swallows around 175 were present at the Longis pond roost on the 7th. Single Kingfishers have been reported almost daily with sightings mostly along the NE coast and Longis pond where 24 White Wagtails came in to roost on the 7th. Migrant Grey Wagtails have also been seen daily with a high count of 4 on the 5th. The Black Redstart hanging around the obs was last seen on the 7th. A Common Redstart was on mannez lighthouse wall on the 2nd and Whinchat was seen at Longis common 5ht, 7th & 9th. There were 2 Wheatear on the NE coastline on the 2nd. A male Ring Ouzel showed unusually well at Longis reserve on the 7th along with the autumns first Redwings, of which there were some 700 through the island on the 8th, a single Fieldfare over Essex farm also on the 8th with another over Rose farm on the 9th. A Mistle Thrush was at Grand Mare on the 7th. A female Cetti’s Warbler was ringed at Longis pond on the 3rd and a male was ringed at Rose farm on the 9th. A late record of Whitethroat at Mannez on the 1st and Reed Warbler on the 9th. A Yellow browed Warbler was ringed at Mannez on the 9th and an unringed bird seen later in the morning at Barrackmasters lane. Firecrest numbers are rising with 6 ringed at Rose farm on the 8th. Small flocks of Starlings are beginning to appear. Finch movements have been evident with flocks of over 100 of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Linnet all recorded. The first notable influx of Chaffinches came on the 9th.
Our observatory bird census walks 2nd and 4th produced 9 species of butterfly including 3 Clouded Yellow.
Moths; we are getting good numbers of Delicate, Beautiful Gothic and Autumnal Rustic this week. And there was this beauty found in St Annes on the 1st
Oleander Hawk moth – Photo JH ABO
Lastly thank you to Dr.Sandy Robertson for providing a wonderful photo of this springs White spotted Bluethroat in Mannez lighthouse garden. You’ll need to visit the observatory to see it !
Yellow-browed Warbler – Mannez reserve – photo – Paul James
To the month end we had lots of boots on the ground with a second 7 day wildlife holiday tour group visiting the island. The bird ringing highlights were a Swallow originally ringed in the UK and on the back of NE winds also Robin originally ringed in Belgium. A bird and Moth species recorded were both only the second ever records for the island and several sightings of what was considered to be Noctule Bat appears to be the first ever record here of the species. A busy 10 days also included two separate interviews with BBC radio and showing Lord Keen ‘Advocate General for Scotland’ & Lady Keen around our new observatory.
Our 2 Little Grebes remained on Longis pond to month end. A single Balearic Shearwater was seen from chateau l’etoc on the 21st. Gannet numbers are falling on the colony with the number of unfledged chicks now barely at double figures on Les Etacs rock. The high counts of Little Egrets were 7 at fort Clonque on the 27th and 8 along the NE coastline on the 28th. Single Grey Herons, likely involving 2 or 3 birds are regularly at Braye Bay, Longis Bay and Corbeltt’s Quarry and 2 at Clonque on the 27th. A Merlin was seen at Mannez on the 25th, again on the 28th and perhaps the same bird over Essex hill on the 30th, a Hobby was reported by visiting UK naturalists Dave & Penny Green on the 27th. Water rails are now being regularly heard at Mannez pond and seen at Longis reserve. Oystercatcher roosts at the north end of Longis bay are building (103 on the 27th) and also at high tide at clonque bay. There were 2 Grey Plovers at Houme Herbe on the 23rd & 29th. 6 Sanderlings were at Paltte saline on the 23rd and a 3 more along with 2 Dunlins have been sporadically reported from our beaches island wide. A Snipe was seen on Longis reserve 27th & 28th. 2 Bar-tailed Godwits were recorded up to the 29th. Curlews are back with us in numbers with 12 recorded at both Houme herbe and Cloque bay on the 27th, Whimbrels are also still around with one at Houme herbe on the 23rd and 3 on the 27th. Common Sandpiper was spotted along the NE coastline 23rd & 27th. Two Great Skuas were seen from Chateau L’etoc on the 23rd and singles from mannez lighthouse 26th & 27th. 3 Mediterranena Gulls were in Braye bay 23rd. Lesser black backed Gulls have mostly moved on for the winter with just the odd bird to be found on Crabby beach. Passage on Sandwich Terns included 22 settled on rocks at Houme herbe on the 23rd and 24th, also on the 24th, 23 Arctic Terns were seen off Mannez Lighthouse. A Kingfisher was seen at Cats Bay on the 23rd and one went to roost at Longis pond on the 25th. The Great Spotted Woodpecker was last reported from Barrackmasters Lane on the 20th. Swallows have ebbed and flowed with the stand out migration day so far being 27th when some 2,500 passed through Alderney. Meadow Pipit counts peaked at around 120 on the 26th. A Yellow Wagtail showed well at Whitegates on the 23rd, Two Grey Wagtails were in St.Annes churchyard on the 24th, and 2 at Barrackmasters Lane 27th, & a single 29th. White Wagtails have been gathering at Paltte Saline and Braye harbour with birds into double figures at both locations. Migrant Robins began to feature among the higher numbers of species ringed toward the month end. 4 Redstarts were ringed during the last 3 days of the month, A Whinchat was at Giffoine on the 22nd & another at Longis common 29th. Wheatears are moving through in small numbers most commonly spotted at Platte Saline, Braye Baye and the NE coastline. A Ring Ouzel was at Barrackmasters Lane on the 29th. Continental race Song Thrushes have been dropping in amongst increasing numbers of Blackbirds. A Cetti’s Warbler was enjoyed at a ringing demonstration at the Bird observatory for the visiting Naturetrek group on the 29th and a Grasshopper Warbler ringed at Mannez Quarry on the 30th.Single Sedge Warblers were seen at Mannez 28th and 29th and Reed Warbler ringed at the same location on those same dates. A Garden Warbler was ringed at Mannez on the 27th and also the first Yellow Browed warbler of the autumn ringed at Barrackmasters Lane by Paul & Catherine Veron. Surely the last of this years Willow Warblers was ringed on the 30th as Chifchaff numbers increased. Visiting ringers Phil Clay and Tim Earl were delighted to see our 2nd island record of Iberian Chiffchaff during a ringing session at Mannez on the 25th. Firecrests have been seen almost daily since the 20th. A Spotted Flycatcher was in St.Annes allotments 24th and another seen at barrackmasters Lane 25th. There has been a notable increase towards month end in both Blue & Great Tits as birds appear to be joining us from the continent, along with Chaffinches, Linnets and Goldfinches.
During an island tour we stopped for a while at Platte saline beach on the 20th to watch around 25 Bottle nosed Dolphins just offshore. A Grey seal was in Braye bay on the 22nd and another has been seen between Longis and Houme herbe. The Obs moth trap turned up several Delicate, Clancy’s Rustic & Spanish Carpet along with only the islands 2nd ever record of Radford’s Flame Shoulder. The highly successful Naturetrek groups recorded a huge variety of wildlife between them recording over 250 species of wildflowers, 16 species of butterfly, 65 species of moths not to mention the various other insects and mammals. Special thanks to fellow tour leaders Tim & Liz Earl & Annabel Finding, and the expertise of Suzy Weir (Hedgehogs) and David Wedd (moths).
Lots of recorded coming in from islanders and visitors, thankyou all.
Radford’s Flame Shoulder – Photo Dave Green
Common Redstart – Photo JH ABO Warden
Yellow-browed Warbler – Photo Paul Veron
A period of predominantly southerly and westerly winds not the greatest for us for autumn migration but still plenty going on including 7 days in the field leading a visiting Naturetrek group.
Little Egret numbers are up with individual high counts of 7 on the NE coastline on the 13th and a ‘seige’ of 5 at high tide on the 18th at Clonque Bay, they are likely well into double figures across the island. The back end of the amazing movement of Honey Buzzards involved single birds seen over Essex Hill on the 11th & 13th, the latter showing very well to an appreciative Naturetrek audience. A Hen Harrier was seen a first light at Mannez quarry by Tim Earl and later in the morning seen over Longis common by Justin Hart and a group of naturalists staying at the bird observatory. Sparrowhawks have been seen daily and likely involve migrating birds with 3 on the 13th and 19th. The same can be said for Kestrels with 5 on view at the same time at the Giffione on the 17th. Single Merlin’s have been recorded on the 11th, 12th & 18th. Water Rails can now be heard daily at both Mannez quarry and Longis pond. Rising wader counts include 150 Oystercatchers in Clonque Bay on the 18th along with 38 Curlew and a Whimbrel. 26 Ringed Plovers 10th-12th at the north end of Longis bay along with a Grey Plover on the 18th and 6 Sanderlings 18th&19th. Single Dunlin were seen 12th & 16th, the small group of Bar-tailed Godwit totalled 4 on the 14th with at least 3 still present to the 19th. A Greenshank was seen in the vicinity of Corbletts on the 15th & 18th. A Green Sandpiper passed over Longis pond on the 15th and 4 Common Sandpipers were on the shingle bank opposite fort Houme Herbe on the 14th. A handful of Mediterranean Gulls are still around with 3 amongst a roost of 59 Black headed Gulls at the north end of Braye Bay on the 15th along with 2 Sandwich Terns. Up to 20 Lesser black backed Gulls remain in Crabby Bay. A Kingfisher was seen at Corbletts quarry on the 17th and then a very obliging first year bird showed well at Longis pond on the 18th. Yet another Wryneck was seen on the 19th (this one near to coastguards cottages). 2 Tree Pipits passed over Longis common on the 13th and 75 Meadow Pipits were recorded during our daily census on the 16th. An influx of Rock Pipits saw 26 recorded along the NE coastline on the 11th. White Wagtails are being seen across the island and a roost of 16 was present around The Douglas Quay on the 18th. A Redstart was seen at Barackmasters Lane by Paul Veron on the 14th, Whinchats were recorded on 4 separate days on Longis common (3 on the 18th). Some 35 Wheatears were around the pig pens at Giffoine on the 13th. Migrant Song Thrushes and Blackbirds are beginning come in and at the same time we are seeing the last of the Whitethroats and Willow Warblers moving out. Firecrests are also appearing with 3 on the 16th&17th at Mannez (2 ringed). Several Spotted Flycatchers have been seen with 2 birds showing well feeding in St. Annes allotments on the 15th, single Pied Flycatchers were seen on the 14th and 17th.
A very successful Naturetrek tour aided by a very sunny and warm few days also recorded 15 species of Butterfly including Clouded Yellow, almost 200 species of Wild flowers including Alderney Sea Lavender and Autumn ladies Tresses Orchid. An extensive moth list from the observatory trap included Clifden Nonpareil and Spanish Carpet. Also seen; ‘Blonde Hedgehog’, Wasp Spider, Great Green Bush Cricket, a bird ringing demonstration, boat trip to our Gannet colony, and lastly possibly a new species of Bat for the island were all enjoyed by the ‘buzzing’ group of visiting naturalists.
Wasp Spider (female) Houme Herbe – photo – JH
The first few days of September continued in the same way august ended, with some exciting records of unusual migrants and a first ringing for Alderney.
2 Manx Shearwaters were seen on the 6th & 7th off Mannez lighthouse with a single Balearic Shearwater also on the 7th. On the 4th a Great White Egret headed over Essex hill NE towards France but then turned SW and out to SW sea towards Guernsey. 2 Teal were feeding on Longis Pond on the evening of the 8th. Honey Buzzards continued to flow through with counts of 20 on the 1st and 38 on the 2nd. Singles were reported up until the 7th. Common Buzzards were moving too with single flock high counts of 6 on the 1st and 7 on the 3rd. Kestrel numbers are increasing with juveniles joining us from the continent, something we have seen the previous two autumns at this time of year, 5 birds were seen on the 5th. Single Hobby’s were seen over Longis 1st and 3rd. Water Rails are now calling regularly to one another towards dusk at Mannez and Longis ponds and 2 showed well at Longis on the 8th. Ringed Plovers peaked at 26 on the 10, 2 to 3 Grey Plovers are spending time along the shoreline between Longis and Saye Bay. A Lapwing was at Whitegates on the 3rd and a single bird was also seen at Longis on the 5th. 6 Sanderling were seen off the NE coast 1st of the month, there were 3 Snipe on Longis pond at dusk on the 3rd and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits have been regularly seen in Longis Bay daily to the 10th. At least one Whimbrel has also been seen daily. A Redshank was reported on the 4th and Turnstones on the 3rd (Longis bay 3) and 7th (Saye bay 1 ). 6 Mediterranean Gulls were seen on the 6th & 7th and 2 Kittiwakes seen off Corbletts bay on the 3rd. Swift records made it into September with 5 seen on the 1st and on the 2nd. A Kingfisher was settled on the post at the rear of Longis pond on the 2nd. The situation with the flurry of Wrynecks escalated during the first week of September with birds popping up all over the place leaving us to guestimate a minimum of 8 birds on total. On the 4th and 5th we had the 4th and 5th wrynecks ringed this autumn, further field sightings included 1 seen at Essex hill on the 2nd, 2 on the 7th ( one at Essex the other on the golf course) the latter bird seen to be taken by a Sparrowhawk, then another at Mannez Quarry on the 8th. A 1st year male Great spotted Woodpecker was ringed at Essex on the 4th, this is the first time this species has been ringed on the island, they are classed here as a rare visitor. Meadow Pipit numbers continue to rise with 50-70 birds recorded most days.Rock Pipits numbers reached 22 along the NE shoreline on the 10th. White Wagtails are also on the move with 15 seen on the 5th, Yellow Wagtails are being seen in 1’s or 2’s daily. A female Redstart was on the track to Fort Albert 4th-6th, a high count of 12 Whinchats were recorded on the 4th, Wheatears reached 8 on the 8th. The island having recorded 2 Icterine Warblers ever, the two birds ringed at the end of August doubled the all time total only for a third ( and un-ringed) bird to be spotted by Justin during the observatory daily census at Mannez quarry on the 4th. Willow Warblers are still moving through with 15 recorded on the 10th. A single Firecrest was at Mannez quarry on the 6th. Around 10 Spotted Flycatchers have been record so far this month, single Pied Flycatchers were seen at Houme Herbe on the 2nd and Barrackmasters Lane on the 4th. The Greenfinch flock is at around 100 birds in the vicinity of Whitegates, and well worth a scan through these next few weeks for more unusual species.
Wryneck- Essex Farm – photo JH-ABO
Whitethroat – freshly moulted adult – Essex farm – photo- JH ABO
Things are hotting up with variety and volume of migrants passing through this tiny island producing an exciting start to autumn migration.
Sooty (1), Manx (10) and Balearic (4) Shearwaters were all recorded on the 24th during a sea watch off chateau l’etoc with Tim Earl, a further single Balearic on the 27th. Peak counts of Shag were 44 on the 23rd, Little Egrets 6 on Longis pond on the 25th and Grey Heron 4 on the 26th. Our first late summer/early autumn Teal was on Longis pond 23rd still present 31st. Honey Buzzards began passing through with around 20 birds reported 28th/29th. Paul Veron had a Goshawk in Barrackmasters Lane on the 30th. At least 2 Water Rails were present on Longis pond 23rd to month end. A Grey Plover was present around Houme Herbe 23rd & 24th, Single Dunlin were seen at the north and of Longis bay 23rd and 27th, a Snipe was on Longis pond on the 30th, and a Bar-tailed Godwit in Longis Bay 27th-31st. Up to 4 Whimbrels were recorded daily 23rd-31st. A brief flurry of Greenshanks (first records of the year) were of 1 over Barrackmasters Lane 30th, then 2 juveniles in Corbletts Bay 31st and another reported over St.Anne’s the same day. 2 Green Sandpipers dropped into Longis pond briefly on the 31st and the high count of Common Sandpipers was 3 on the 27th. Great Skua was added to the island annual list with 5 seen, (some very close to shore) off chateau l’etoc on the 24th. Mediterranean Gulls are still scattered around the coastline with 5 reported on the 31st. Sandwich Terns are now being regularly seen along the NE coast, the high count 8 on the 27th and single Swifts were still passing through up to the 31st. The first Kingfisher of the year was at Corbletts on the 31st. The first Wryneck ringed since 1979 was caught at Essex farm in the shape of two birds together, this shortly after one was reported by Sally Townsend-smith from the nearby Kennels garden on Longis Common. A further Wryneck was then ringed at Mannez on the 30th. An amazing Tree Pipit passage saw 20 birds ringed between the 22nd and 30th with passage counts of 18 on the 22nd and 12 on the 28th. We do very well here for migrant Yellow Wagtails and flocks are beginning to come through with 33 recorded on the 30th. A single Redstart was ringed at Longis on the 22nd, Whichats are also arriving with 4 on the 29th and a high count of 12 Wheatears on the 26th. 3 Grasshopper Warblers were ringed at Mannez on the 22nd and a further bird on the 30th. An Icterine Warbler was caught and ringed at Longis Pond on the 30th and another caught and ringed (same location) on the 31st. These two constituted the 3rd and 4th records of the species for the island and the 1st and 2nd ever ringed here. An adult Melodious Warbler was ringed at Mannez on the 22nd and a Lesser Whitethroat ringed in Barrackmasters Lane 30th. Willow Warbler passage slowed towards the end of the month and the first Firecrest of the autumn was ringed on the 30th. Single Spotted Flycatchers were seen on the 22nd, 28th and 30th whilst 9 Pied Flycatchers (5 ringed) were seen during the same period. Most mornings first thing a noisy ‘unknidness’ of Ravens can been seen passing over the observatory roman fort from the direction of Essex Hill.
Below from left to right: Icterine Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler
Whinchat ringed at Longis common this week
The 2 Little Grebes remain on Longis Pond. 7 Balearic Shearwaters passed Chateua L’Etoc on the 10th. Little Egret are slowly on the increase with 6 recorded on the 13th and 20th. Migrant Grey Herons (most often seen in Corbletts quarry) are also passing through, with a high count of 5 on the 18th. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Buzzard have all been regularly spotted across the island. The sound of Water Rail returned to Longis pond on the 11th, with at least two calling on the 14th, then heard almost daily until 21st. Wader records include a fine summer plumage Grey Plover was present at Houme Herb 20th & 21st, Dunlin and Sanderling both recorded sporadically along the NE coast, Snipe on Longis pond 8th & 13th, Whimbrel recorded most days (8 on the 19th), single Redshanks spotted on the 7th & 8th, also 20th & 21st, 2 Green Sandpiper at Corbletts quarry 10th, 4 together on Longis pond on the 11th, also 3 Common Sandpiper along the NE coastline on the 13th. Mediterranean Gulls have been regularly spotted and small groups have been gathering at their historically favoured site at the north end of Braye bay, 2 Sandwich Terns passed chateau Le toc on the 12th. A Cuckoo was seen at Longis Common on the 7th and another at Fort Albert on the 9th. A pair of Barn Owls have been regularly hunting the grassland opposite Mannez lighthouse. A Tree Pipit was recorded flying over mannez quarry on the 21st and another was ringed at Longis reserve the same day. Meadow Pipits had a significant increase on the 20th to around 100 birds. The first autumn migrant Whinchat was seen on Longis common on the 7th, with another on the 20th with possibly the same bird ringed at Longis common on the 21st. Wheatears have been recorded daily from the 7th with 15 on the 15th. There is at least 1 Fan-tailed Warbler still present around Longis pond & common and our ringing is indicating that Sedge Warbler has had a particularly good year. As millions of Blackberries ripen Whitethroat numbers have been creeping up with the first migrants joining the local breeding birds, a single Garden warbler was ringed on the 21st. A Pied Flycatcher was seen at Mannez Quarry on the 8th, and one was ringed here on the 11th another was ringed at Longis reserve on the 20th. A Greenfinch flock frequenting Longis common is now at around 100 birds.
Teaming up with states works department ABO assistant warden Justin managed to locate a sizeable Asian Hornets nest which was dealt with by Jamie laband and his team. Jamie commented that Alderney has had two nests even lager than the one depicted below ! (Jamie – right, and Justin, left holding the Asian Hornets nest)
Whinchat – Longis Common 21/08. Photo JH.
I was determined to get out and do the Big butterfly count this year and did so with great success on the 24th July. Though I missed a few species like Holly Blue and Wall Brown that have been very common this year, during the suggested 15mins recording period I totted up 12 butterfly species around Mannez Quarry submitting a total of over 300 individual butterflies from the small survey area. The outing became a ‘win win’ when I came across 2 very recently fledged Black Redstarts feeding on the cliff face under the odeon. We have long suspected this species is breeding on Alderney and this is as close to conformation as we are likely to obtain without actually finding the nest. Since the last blog migrants heading south in numbers and variety have been on the increase, and we added another species to the Alderney ringing list.
Better late than never ! Our Little Grebe male was finally joined by a female 28th July, surely too late now to breed, lets see.. Little Egrets are now regularly around the bays at the NE end of the island with 4 on 2nd August. Moorhens have successfully bred on Longis and Mannez reserves. There were 14 Sanderlings on Platte saline on the 4th August and on the same day a Curlew sandpiper was found by Paul Veron in Corbletts Bay, this species took the island annual total to 154. Whimbrels and Common Sandpipers continue to pass through with a high count of 14 of the former on the 30th and 5 of the latter on the 25th. Green Sandpiper was recorded 3rd August over Barrackmasters Lane and another over Longis pond on the 5th.The Common Tern colony appear to have now moved on from the breeding colony site with at least 2 more recently fledged birds spotted. A Barn Owl was seen drifting across the Mannez Garrene 28th July. Movements of Swifts were regularly reported during the last week of July with the high count 57 on the 26th July and also 50 over the golf course on the 3rd August. 3 recently fledge House Martins were circling a known breeding ‘house’ site on th 26th July and early August flocks have been gathering over Barrackmasters Lane with 32 on the 2nd. Assistant warden Justin has begun ringing 2nd brood Swallow pulli across the island. Meadow Pipt numbers also increased towards the end of July with 67 recorded on the 30th. Other migrants putting in their first appearance of the autumn were a Whinchat on Longis common on the 4th August and a Wheatear on Platte saline on the 5th. The above mentioned 2 young Black Redstart were located on the 24th July with an adult with one of the youngsters seen on the 26th. Between 2nd and 5th of August at least 4 Fan tailed Warblers have been seen on Longis Common including 2 displaying singing males (2 were ringed on the 5th). Our first south bound Garden Warbler was ringed at Mannez on the 5th along with 2 first year Pied Flycatchers after singles of the latter were reported on the 3rd and 4th August. A Spotted Flycatcher was found at Houme herb on the 1st Aug. Migrating Sedge Warblers increased in number with 10 on the 26th July and 3 Dartford Warblers were seen at Telegraph on the 1st August. A family of Long tailed Tits have been frequenting Mannez quarry and 4 Juveniles ringed. Greenfinch has had an exceptional year with around 80 flocking juveniles recorded on the 26th, Linnet flocks also began to appear at the end of July with 48 at Whitegates on the 30th.
Fan tailed Warbler (1 of 2 ringed at Longis nature reserve 5th August) – Photo J Hart
And for those of you who have never been to this fantastic island, here is something you can do between ringing and birding here !
Can’t beat a cooling paddle ! Corbletts Bay.