A trip to the island will give you the chance to see dozens of fascinating birds and animals, many of them strangers to mainland Britain.
In recognition of Alderney’s unique wildlife and heritage, we are pioneering the Living Islands initiative. This programme is run in conjunction with the British Wildlife Trusts and celebrates the diversity of the island.
Ramsar on Alderney
Alderney is a designated Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) and deservedly popular with birdwatchers, who visit this Channel Island on holiday throughout the year. Alderney’s Ramsar site was the first to be designated in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The United Nations Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, otherwise known as the Ramsar Convention, officially recognised Alderney’s west coast and Burhou Island as a wetland of worldwide importance in 2005.
The designated Ramsar site extends to 1,500 hectares, some 600 hectares more than mainland Alderney and includes all the waters from the island’s west coast out to the northern gannet colony of Ortac, Burhou, the islets and reefs that surround it and includes Les Etacs.
To maintain the Ramsar designation the Alderney Wildlife Trust undertakes a series of ecological studies including:
Puffin research and management
Storm petrel breeding
Establishing new nesting sites for storm petrels
Shag and Cormorant breeding
Visitor management and awareness
Tern census and breeding
Ringed plover census and breeding
Determine adult gannet population
Natural diversity on Alderney
The island is also home to the distinctive (and very rare) blonde-haired hedgehog. The braver ones even venture into the side streets of St Anne to forage for food. Bats are common, including three types of pipistrelle, and you may see a greater white-toothed shrew or a distinctive black rabbit.
Alderney’s warm waters, powerful tides and fast-flowing streams create a diverse marine environment, with plentiful sea fish and many seaweeds, anemones, crustaceans and starfish. Dolphins, which feed on fish such as bass, red mullet and wrasse, can sometimes be seen off the coast, and a short boat trip will let you visit the Grey Atlantic seals that inhabit small islets around three miles (5km) west of the harbour.
Alderney’s mild climate encourages an abundance of wild flowers. In relation to its total area of just under 2,000 acres, there are more species recorded than almost anywhere else in the British Isles, with some 1034 species having been recorded at various times since the earliest records published in 1839. Of these about 850-900 are currently to be found in the wild. Many gardens feature Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere plants. The cliff paths are surrounded by superb wild displays. Wild orchids colonise the commons, whilst the intriguingly named Bastard Toadflax plant makes its home close to the sea along the east coast.
Alderney Wildlife Trust organises regular events, including guided walks.
For the Alderney Wildlife Sightings page visit www.alderneywildlife.123guestbook.com.