Wildlife to look for in Spring
Spring is a time when everything on the island seems to be bursting with life. Visit our reserves for displays of wildflowers and to watch for migrants returning from our two bird hides.
March brings the first signs of spring migration, sometimes large numbers of Meadow pipits, Pied wagtails and 'crests' pass through. The first Wheatears, Swallow or Sand Martin. Chiffchaffs start singing their repetitive call. Ravens and Coots laying - with the earliest Gannets, maybe a few garden birds too like Blackbirds and Song thrushes. Dawn chorus really picks up.
Early in the season there is a big event on the Alderney calendar - the return of the puffins to Burhou. They are usually spotted in late March or early April off shore and will take a few weeks to settle before they venture on to land. Once they arrive back Puffin Cam starts filming live daily on the colony.
Maybugs and silver-y moths in large numbers begin venturing out. Other species are waking from a winter of torpor, including hedgehogs, slow worm and bats.
Gorse provides a splash of bright yellow and many of the bushes flower around the coast.
Spring migration is now in full swing and nesting season starts in earnest. Gannets laying en-masse and the colonies of Les Etacs and Ortac are throbbing with activity. Ringed plovers are back on the beaches and start to lay their first clutches along with the Oystercatchers. Swallows arrive at the bunkers. Passages of waders in beautiful breeding plumage arrive on the beaches. The earliest nesting garden birds are already feeding young out the nest by the end of month. Reed warblers return to nest around Longis pond. The melody of birdsong breaks through the gentle drumming of April showers.
Underwater it's all kicking off too as the sun gives energy to green, brown and red algae across the shores. Lush growth of Ulva sp (green seaweeds in the shallows) attracts Sea hares and Elysia viridis (the solar-powered sea slug). Spring flush of sea slugs feeding on new growth of hydroids and other benthic invertebrates. Fish become more active too with wrasse, blennies and gobies etc more easy to see.
The delightful, but miniature, Sand Crocus, in flower in bright sunshine in our coastal grasslands and the deep purple of our earliest orchid, the green-winged orchid on the Mannez Garenne.
Diversity of flora, in particular the south cliff walks are spectacular. Offshore the islets are heaving with seabirds. Swallows start laying. Young Ravens usually fledge in this month. One of the latest arrivals, the Common Terns, return. Many migrants are still passing through. Bird nesting season - in general, through the month, young of many species hatched and busily being fed by parents. Dawn chorus in full glory as an ensemble from Africa joins the locals. Often Cuckoo.
Dragonflies begin to quarter the ponds, hunting for prey and Hummingbird hawk-moths hover by the bright coastal blooms.
Learn more about Spring wildlife
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