Birds in the Channel Islands – our lists updated

Black stork. Photo by Mick DrydenIn what has become a tradition, each year at around this time Birds On The Edge can unveil the updated list of Channel Islands birds. With kind support from our friends in the very active birding communities in Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Jersey the list, updated to the end of 2016, can be downloaded here.

Blyth's reed warbler. Photo by Mick DrydenWhat has changed since the last list (to the end of 2015)? Well, that is very obvious to anyone looking closely at the species records and stems from the launch last year of the Alderney Bird Observatory. The team there in Alderney have started to immediately show big changes to our understanding of that island’s bird fauna and of bird migration through the Channel Islands in general. Several species joined Alderney’s list as it creeps up towards the numbers on the lists of the larger islands with first records of pomarine skua, penduline tit, Pallas’s warbler, western Bonelli’s warbler and Blyth’s reed warbler. And that was with less than 12 months activities – what will the next few years show? And where’s that CI first?

Pallas's warbler. Photo by Mick Dryden

The other islands’ birders have been no slouches either. Jersey added squacco heron to its total while there were other notable sightings with Guernsey’s second spotted sandpiper and third black stork, Jersey’s second greenish warbler and Alderney’s second velvet scoter, third subalpine warbler and fourth black stork, red kite and Alpine swift. Sark is lagging a little these days and it would be nice if visiting birders (it really is a good spot to visit), who must at least be able to assist with understanding species’ statuses on the Island, would send in all their sightings to the Sark recorder – the address is on the download.

Squacco heron. St Ouen's Pond 9-5-2016. Mick Dryden

Of the breeding species it is nice to see the numbers of little grebes, marsh harriers, common buzzards, little egrets and stock doves continuing to rise. There are disappointments as well though with declines in house martin, turtle dove and skylark.

And the Island totals of this totally uncompetitive listing of species? The overall number sticks at 370 and Jersey now has a list of 331, Guernsey 323, Alderney 291 and Sark 227. Each island continues to have what appear, to birders anyway, some glaring omissions. Why no red-throated pipits, lesser grey shrike, marsh sandpiper or Wilson’s petrel? Come and visit one or all of the islands, you’ll be made very welcome and you can maybe add something to this list in future.

A working list of the birds of the Channel Islands can be downloaded here.

Spotted sandpiper. Photo by Miranda Collett