The island boasts a rich natural history including species such as the Dartford Warbler, alongside Puffins, Gannets and Storm Petrels, as well as some unusual mammals.
There are numerous fascinating animals that are found in and around Alderney’s shores. Thanks to our unique habitat, there are species that are found commonly on the island, which are rare elsewhere.
Birds, including gannets
Alderney boasts over 270 species of birds, either as residents or passing migrants. The opportunity to spot a rare migrant is always exciting and the island is a popular destination for birdwatchers during peak migration times.
The species that you are most likely to spot on Alderney (depending on the time of year) include:
Alderney is host to approximately 2% of the world’s population of Northern Gannets, from the southern cliffs you can see a rocky outcrop, Les Etacs, that is often thronged with over 11,500 birds. Alderney boasts the only colony of European Storm Petrels in the Channel Islands, slightly more than approximately 1% of the British population. The unique tidal streams, with speeds of up to 6 knots at spring tides, encourage a vibrant and diverse marine environment, of which little is yet known.
Alderney contains a mixture of habitats ranging from coastal grassland, shingle shorelines, rocky intertidal to sub-tidal kelp forests. These are ideal for gannets. Interestingly though, the Alderney population is thought to have originated from the Scilly Isles. During WWII, the British forces practised shelling on Scilly. The gannets disappeared but, the following year, a ‘new’ colony arrived on Alderney.
Hedgehogs, bats, shrews, dolphins, seals, insects and slow worms
The Blonde Hedgehog, which is unusual in most other parts of Europe, accounts for quarter of Alderney’s hedgehog population. Wander around at night (with a torch to hand) and you might spot one of these lovely animals. Unusually, the island’s hedgehogs are free from fleas.
There are 3 species of Pipistrelle bat commonly found on Alderney, Common, Soprano and Grey Long-eared Pipistrelles. Bats can be seen in a number of places around the island, including Fort Albert, the sewage processing site close to the Nunnery, over Corblets Quarry and in Barrack Masters Lane. The best time to spot them is in the hour after dusk .
The White-toothed Shrew is found on Alderney, as well as on Guernsey and Herm. They are hard to spot but you might hear their calls on Longis Common.
Alderney’s warm waters, powerful tides and fast-flowing tidal streams create a diverse marine environment, with plentiful sea fish and many seaweeds, anemones, crustaceans and starfish. The Blue Bay area of the island is often a good place to see passing pods of Common and Bottle Nosed Dolphins especially in the winter months. The dolphins feed on fish such as bass, red mullet and wrasse and can sometimes be seen off the coast. A short boat trip will let you visit the Atlantic Grey Seals that inhabit small islets around three miles (5km) west of the harbour.
Alderney’s ‘mini-beasts’ include nine species of resident dragonflies as well as Glanville Fritillary, Common Blue, Small Heath and Gatekeeper butterflies.
The heathland of Le Vau du Saou is the most likely location to see the island’s only reptile, the Slow Worm, during the late spring and summer.
With so many fascinating species, Alderney is a haven for natural history enthusiasts. The incredible diversity of this small island has been recognised by both Ramsar and the British Wildlife Trusts.