By: Condor Ferries on 13/07/2012
A Bird Watchers Paradise
What makes Guernsey even more attractive to birdwatchers is that the island covers just 24 square miles. A huge variety of our feathered friends can be seen with minimal travelling and in a relatively short period of time.
Geography and varied habitats are the main reasons for Guernsey’s success with the birds. Its coastal cliffs, heath lands, dunes, marshes and wooded valleys accommodate most needs for nesting, or just resting. The island’s mild winters and wide tidal ranges ideally suit large numbers of migrating birds seeking escape from the big freeze back home. By the time they think it is warm enough to fl y off again, various other species arrive for the summer.
Guernsey’s coast changes dramatically with the tides. When the sea recedes, expanses of mud and sand are revealed, along with rocky outcrops and shingle banks. It becomes a rich feeding ground for waders, along with gulls and wildfowl. Formations of grey and ringed plovers, curlew, dunlin and turnstones can be seen on the west coast beaches while the Gannet Rocks near Alderney are home to the world’s most southerly gannet colonies.
The diversity of species when you journey inland is no less surprising. You may, however, have to be more alert than when by the sea if you want to spot less common species such as the short-toed treecreeper, Cetti’s warbler and serin which can be found in woodlands, shrub land and reed beds.
Nearly 70 species of birds now breed on the island attracted by Guernsey’s diverse nesting habitats. Marsh harriers have bred on the island for the fi rst time this year and can often be seen at Claire Mare, while peregrines can be seen all year round, sitting on rocky outcrops and islets just off shore.
RSPB Wildlife Explorer Chris Mourant says: “I was born and bred on the island and like many people here grew up with an appreciation of the great variety of birds we have here. Bird populations are diminishing all over the world, but on Guernsey their numbers remain pretty stable, and migrating birds return to us year-on-year.”
Bird watching essentials
The comings and goings of birds on the island is monitored by La Société Guernesiaise. Visit www.societe.org.gg for information. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds organises bird watching events throughout the year across Guernsey. Visit www.rspbguernsey.co.uk for the event diary and other information about Guernsey birds.