Each year we update the list of all the bird species recorded in the (British) Channel Islands of Jersey (including Les Écréhous and Les Minquiers), Guernsey (including Herm, Jethou and Lihou), Alderney (including Burhou and the Casquets) and Sark (including Brecqhou) that have been
accepted by the islands’ respective ornithological committees. We get reminded of what we’ve seen and what we missed. We see what changes are happening in our bird fauna and, of course, we might think, only very briefly of course, on which island has seen the most.
2022 saw the islands’ first bridled tern, in Jersey, and Blyth’s pipit in Guernsey. Alderney continue to build their Island list up with firsts of Caspian gull, western Bonelli’s warbler and Eurasian treecreeper. Sark saw their first fan-tailed warbler, a species that has bred sporadically across the other islands since the first in 2001. Jersey recorded the islands’ first Iberian wagtail, a distinctive race of the yellow wagtail, the fifth race of this beautiful bird to be recorded across the islands.
With many of our bird populations in decline it is good to report successes. Roseate tern and European nightjar bred again in Jersey and great spotted woodpecker bred for the second consecutive year in Sark. Cirl bunting records are increasing in Guernsey and Alderney and, with our seabird populations looking so fragile, it is exciting to see that common guillemot is thriving in Sark.
Some birds we know but can still be surprised by. The first glossy ibis in the islands was likely recorded in Jersey in 2007 (there is a report of one shot on Sark in 1909) but, with a flock of 10 in Guernsey in 2017, the wintering flock of 13 in Jersey in 2022 looks like a sign of things to come. This long-legged waterbird joins that list of other elegant wetland species increasing in numbers across the islands that includes egrets, herons, spoonbills and black-winged stilts.
Another surprise in 2022 came further out to sea. Jersey had one record of great shearwater, in 1995, with others recorded occasionally from Guernsey and Alderney. “Sizeable flocks” were reported from Guernsey in July 1950 but the 400+ birds seen from Jersey in September and October 2022 was a shock. Will this species be seen, like Balearic shearwater, more often in our waters?
No summary is complete without noting Alderney’s further visiting great bustard. The bird that visited in May was their fifth visitor from the UK since 2014 (see the Great Bustard Group). Mind you, two of Jersey’s red-billed choughs paid visits to Guernsey and Sark last year. And went home!
And the island totals? Jersey have recorded 341 species, Guernsey 333, Alderney 312 and Sark 226. See and download the full list here.