Gerry Griffiths, managing director of Avian Adventures, a leading UK wildlife tour operator, reports on his company’s first tour to Alderney, supported by the Living Islands team:
Day 3: Monday, 27th April (Les Quatre Vents >> Giffoine >> Longis Nature Reserve)
This morning Martin had planned a clifftop walk along the southern coastal path at Les Quatre Vents and today his wife Mary joined us on our pleasurable stroll in a delightful location. Leaving town we parked the vehicle and began our walk on a track that passed between horse paddocks and meadows. In 2014 I had discovered that this area was excellent for migrating Swallows and today was no exception with large numbers present, hawking for insects and landing on the enclosure fences. Further on, we discovered a group of Yellow Wagtails, it is a pretty common occurrence to find this species where animals are kept – a good food source. Once again Whinchats were discovered and at this locality were present in good numbers (about 7-8 birds) and looking in pristine condition – we had now recorded Whinchats on all three days. Continuing, we walked down a small wooded valley, where Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were a feature, but a good discovery was a Spotted Flycatcher, although at times it was rather elusive and made us work hard to get views of it. Re-joining the coast we arrived at the Vau Du Saou Nature Centre and then walked beyond there for some distance. There were Cormorants, Shags and Gannets frequently passing by, along with Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. Ravens were seen on a number of occasions but only a brief view was had of a Peregrine.
Common Whitethroats and Linnets were a regular feature amongst the Bramble and Gorse. On our return and just before reaching the car, more Whinchats were seen and a second Redstart was found in a garden. Driving to the clifftops at Giffoine allowed us to have spectacular views of the Gannet colonies of Le Etacs and Ortac, as these stacks are only 300 metres off-shore. It was here that Martin showed us the cocoons with caterpillars of Glanville Fritillary butterfly – there is a largish population of this rare butterfly on Alderney. After this, we went back to St. Anne and enjoyed a scrumptious cream tea lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was spent re-visiting Longis Bay and Nature Reserve. In the bay’s rock pools and on the shoreline were Common Shelduck, Little Egret and Oystercatcher and at the pond Water Rail and Sedge Warbler were new species for the tour. Another addition to the species list, but not a bird, was Green-winged Orchid.