Alderney wildlife sightings
The Alderney Wildlife Trust has reported sightings of bottlenose dolphins, grey seals and 2021's first butterfly, the Red Admiral while the island is also home to blonde hedgehogs, the lesser-spotted palmate newt and birds including the Dartford warbler and grey wagtail. The Bird Observatory on Longis bay provides accommodation for bird watchers and researchers, so allowing them to get even closer to the island’s winged inhabitants.
Staff from the Alderney Wildlife Trust have teamed up with Visit Alderney to provide a series of virtual walks starting with Fort Albert and Bibette Head Trail, which can be watched on the Trust's YouTube channel here.
Wildflowers, insects and marine life in Guernsey
Swathes of yellow gorse and bright pink common storksbill are emerging along the south coast with endemic ferns and orchid fields prolific at Les Vicheries on the west coast. Bee orchids were found for the first time last year in St Germain.
For amateur entomologists, the rare black backed meadow ant, once found across the British Isles, now live only on the cliffs in Guernsey as well as some neighbouring Islands. Nests are marked with red flags. The rare glanville fritillary butterfly is a frequent sight in Guernsey despite falling numbers in the UK, where they’re now spotted in just a few coastal locations.
In bays around the island and off neighbouring Herm, underwater meadows of seagrass are visible at low tide. These act as a nursery for schools of fish and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Large pods of dolphins travel along the south coast cliffs with Havelet bay recorded as the most popular sighting spot. You might also see the shy brown Guernsey vole, considerably larger than its European counterpart, as it is occasionally visible in the fields.
Read about one of my visits to Guernsey and Sark HERE
During lockdown, La Société Guernesiaise, an organisation whose goal is to preserve Guernsey’s biodiversity, has launched the initiative ‘A Look at Lockdown’ to encourage locals to take photos of wildlife. There has been an increase due to fewer cars being on the road.
Puffin watching in Herm & Sark
From mid-March to July, puffins migrate to the islands to breed, especially on Herm and Sark. In normal times, visitors can take a boat trip around the islands, while the more adventurous may prefer a puffin-kayaking trip with Outdoor Guernsey.
Sark’s Gouliot Headland, declared a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention, is carpeted with anemones, sponges and soft corals, seen during spring low tide. Herm is a Ramsar site designated for its intertidal area and breeding bird populations.
Bird nesting in Lihou
The tidal island of Lihou also a Ramsar site is home to over 150 species of birds including the striking black-backed gull. Lihou’s rocky outcrops and shingle banks offer the perfect nesting environment. The absence of visitors last year meant that breeding pairs of internationally important species including European shags and oystercatchers were seen nesting around the island. Over the past few years the species have been in decline due to human interference. However, Lihou's unique location and lockdown measures enabled the birds to breed successfully.
more at www.visitguernsey.com
images (c) Andy Marquis - Guernsey Wildlife and Nature Photography /The Bailiwick DolFin Project/ Rod Ferbrache
A Born Free adoption is the gift that gives twice. From King the lion to the Brown Bear Orphans, there are 19 fabulous adoptions to choose from. All are real animals, either living in the wild and protected by Born Free's conservation projects or receiving expert lifetime care in the charity's sanctuaries.
Besides adopting an animal, you can buy your Christmas gifts here too. A varying percentage of profits from sales, depending on product, go directly to Born Free, the international wildlife charity founded in 1984 by actors Bill Travers MBE and Virginia McKenna OBE.
Adoption packs last one year. The recipient receives a gift pack, soft toy and a bi annual copy of Born Free’s Adopt magazine.
Specialist small-ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions offers ‘Siberia’s Forgotten Coast’ tour which explores Kamchatka’s remote coastline and supports the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper. The company is delighted with the latest news that 22 healthy chicks have been released into the wild.
Heritage Expeditions Commercial Director & Expedition Leader Aaron Russ says, “Having supported conservation efforts for the spoon-billed sandpiper since 2011, we are thrilled to learn of this latest success, part of international efforts to help save this incredible wader from extinction.”
Of the 30 eggs collected from Arctic breeding grounds, 22 chicks were successfully reared in captivity before being released recently into their natural habitat of Meinypil'gyno, Russia.
The head of BirdsRussia, a Russian NGO committed to the Conservation and Study of Wild Birds, Dr Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, explains, “The birds are healthy. All 'wards' were provided with tags before release so they can be tracked along the migration routes, which began in early August. We followed them every day documenting who stayed, who has flown away and who is doing what. "
The international ‘head-starting’ project which aims to preserve and increase the bird population was launched nine years ago with the participation of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, British Royal Society for the Conservation of Birds and the International Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Task Force of the EAAFP and is supported by the Chukotka Government.
These iconic wading birds only breed in Chukotka and northern Kamchatka in the Far East of Russia, a remote, largely inaccessible region, making it difficult for researchers attempting to identify potential new breeding sites for the birds.
However Heritage Expeditions whose purpose-built expedition ships allow them to reach otherwise isolated and inaccessible locations, have been able to support SBS conservation efforts by providing transport for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force and BirdsRussia. This has enabled researchers to visit parts of the 4,500-kilometre coastline in search of breeding pairs and discover new breeding sites. The company has also delivered a new boat and quad bike to assist research and even transported spoon-billed sandpiper eggs and chicks bound for a conservation breeding facility.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force Coordinator Dr Christoph Zöckler describes the partnership with Heritage Expeditions as a ground breaking example for future cooperation in modern conservation. "Nature conservation urgently needs more collaboration with tourists to enhance their efforts to save the ailing biodiversity on this planet. Our relationship with Heritage Expeditions is a win-win situation for both and an outstanding example of an effective relationship between a conservation group and the business sector."
Passengers who join the 14-day Siberia’s Forgotten Coast expedition will not only be able to view spoon-billed sandpipers in Meinypil’gyno the main breeding area in Chukotka, they will also have the chance to play an active role in locating breeding areas in locations never before surveyed.
Every day of the expedition reveals the richness and diversity of wildlife species. Highlights include the Commander Islands where sea otters, a variety of whale species and a plethora of sea birds from red-face cormorants to whiskered auklets may be seen, as well as the Govena Peninsula and the largely unknown Chukotka Coast, both of which are home to brown bears.
Heritage Expeditions’ next Siberia’s Forgotten Coast voyage departs from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on 22nd June 2021. Prices from US$7380 pp based on a triple share cabin and includes all meals during the voyage and expedition shore excursions.
Further information on spoon-billed sandpipers, visit: https://trips.heritage-expeditions.com/spoon-billed-sandpiper-conservation/
For further information on Siberia’s Forgotten Coast voyage see : https://www.heritage-expeditions.com/destinations/russian-far-east-travel/siberia-kamchatka-cruise/
images © ACharles, ETan, CCollins, GBreton
Flora, fauna and all kinds of wildlife are enjoying benefits of a huge decrease in global carbon emissions and footfall reduction in some of our treasured outdoor spaces. These include the Celtic Routes counties Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in Wales and Wicklow, Waterford and Wexford in Ireland.
Dolphin Spotting off New Quay, Ceredigion
Cardigan Bay is famed for bottlenose dolphins and has a population of around 250 attracted by abundant feeding grounds, undisturbed habitat and clean waters. It’s possible to see dolphins year round, but prospects are best in summer when there’s plenty of mackerel in the sea. Improve the odds of seeing them and colonies of seabirds by taking a charter boat trip into Cardigan Bay. Bottlenose dolphins are highly intelligent and extremely sociable and often leap alongside boats riding the bow wave making them fun to observe up close.
The seven islands, Caldey, Grassholm, Middleholm, Ramsey, Skokholm, Skomer and St Margaret’s are uninhabited now except Caldey, although many are nature reserves with wardens. Skomer, Ramsey and Caldey are the most accessible with daily boat trips from the mainland between Easter and October while the others can be seen up close from a boat. Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are grouped together as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of their puffins, Manx shearwaters, and gannets. Day visits are not currently permitted, but boat trips touring around the islands are operational.
Kidwelly Quay and The Wetlands in Bynea, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire's south coast is a haven for migratory birds and sites of scientific interest include Kidwelly Quay and The Wetland in Bynea. Sandy muddy banks attract birds including waders and wildfowl. The 450-acre Llanelli Wetland Centre is Wales only Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre. Visitors may see wetland and wildfowl birds including black-tailed godwit, migrant geese, warblers, lapwings, sandpipers and if you’re lucky, peregrine falcons and hen harriers.
Seal Spotting at Cemaes Head, Pembrokeshire
Autumn is the best time to spot one of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved mammals, the Atlantic grey seal. Not only is this when the females come ashore to give birth, but there’s a good chance you’ll get to see their adorable white pups too. Pups generally arrive between late August and November, starting life with silky-soft white fur. When this is replaced with a thicker, darker, waterproof adult coat the pup is ready to learn to catch fish for itself. Cemaes Head, North Pembrokeshire, is Wales highest sea-cliff and an important breeding site where many pups are born. The inaccessible pebbly beach below is the spot for the largest Atlantic grey ‘haul-out’ in Pembrokeshire, when up to 200 seals and pups can be ashore at any one time.
Persecuted to near extinction in the UK, the Red Kite could at one time only be found in Central Wales. Now there have been Red Kite reintroduction programmes across the UK with one recent sites being in Carmarthenshire. Narrow valleys and high mountains mean the Ystradffin area is one of the best habitats for this magnificent bird of prey.
Cors Caron, Ceredigion
This 2,000-acre National Nature Reserve is a 2,000-acre area which includes three raised bogs, areas of deep peat that have built up over 12,000 years. Untamed reed-beds, wet grasslands, woodland, rivers, streams and ponds sustain a variety of wildlife.
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, Wexford
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve was originally founded as a winter sanctuary for Greenland white-fronted geese. Located on flat farmland reclaimed from the sea in the 1840s, 40% of the world’s population of Greenland white-fronted geese find food and shelter here along with thousands of wildfowl, waders and other birds. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded.
*The reserve is not currently open, but check here for updates and information on opening.
Whales Breaching at Hook Head, Wexford
November marks the beginning of whale watching season off the Hook Peninsula. In 2010 there were reports of Fin whales and a Humpback spotted off the coast at Hook Head and they have made a welcome return every year since. The red balcony at the top of Hook Lighthouse makes an ideal viewing point with binoculars or whale watching boat trips are available.
Humpback whales are amongst the largest animals on earth, growing up to 16 metres in length and weighing up to 40 tons. Experts have located a breeding ground for the ‘Irish’ Humpback whales in the Cape Verde islands meaning they travel nearly 5,000km every year through some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes to get to Wexford's rich feeding grounds. Hook Head is also a Special Protected Area for birds with an abundance of geodiversity, vegetated sea cliffs and fossils.
Ardmore is great for bird watchers who may spot nesting fulmars and kittiwakes at Ram Head; divers and waders, whimbrel, cliff-nesting house martins; migrant warblers and goldcrests. Rarer species include black-throated diver, eider, red-necked phalarope, black redstart, firecrest and crossbill.
Avoca Valley, Wicklow
An area associated with the copper mining industry, the valley was immortalised by Thomas Moore in the song ‘The Meeting of the Waters’. Renowned for its hand-weaving, Avoca was fictional village ‘Ballykissangel’ in the BBC series of the same name. The Red Kite walk winds through dense woodland and you can view the village from the forest walk following the red way marking signs. The Golden Eagle Trust re-introduced a set of red kite birds into Kilmagig Forest and now breeding pairs have made this their habitat.
The Celtic Routes are comprised of 78 visitor experiences across the six counties, giving tourists the opportunity to explore these beautiful and spiritual parts of west Wales and eastern Ireland characterised by unspoilt beaches, rolling countryside and dramatic mountain ranges.
Images thanks to © Daisy Gilardini Wildlife & Andrew-Halsall, Boomer Jerritt
Garden birds benefit most from extra food during winter, but will visit garden feeders year round once they know they’re there. Feeders can be made from materials you probably have at home already - simply hang them up in a tree, from a post, bracket or even a washing line. The ideal spot is somewhere that doesn’t get disturbed too much, is sheltered and offers plenty of visibility so birds can see any danger coming (like neighbourhood cats). Put small amounts of food out at first, so you don’t get waste that might attract unwanted visitors.
Some birds, including robins, prefer feeding from a flat surface, so you could put out a tray, table or dish of seeds to suit them.
What you will need
See the National Trust website for lots more ideas and inspiration
all images copyright National Trust
Making a pine cone feeder. Click on images to enlarge.
YouTube Videos on how to make easy feeders from a mug and a toilet roll holder HERE
The project will run in the Tsavo Conservation Area, one of the country’s most visited tourism destinations, home to approximately 12,850 African elephants. Among this population are at least 11 of the world’s 30 or so remaining ‘big tuskers’ , so-called because their tusks are long enough to reach the ground. They all face a mortal threat from poaching fuelled by demand for ivory. Through IFAW’s innovative wildlife security initiative ‘tenBoma’, both government and community rangers are trained to anticipate and respond to threats to animals and local communities.
TenBoma, meaning ten houses, is inspired by an African community philosophy that professes if ten houses look out for each other, the wider community is safe. This philosophy is at the heart of IFAW’s work which aims to create a co-ordinated wildlife security network, trained and equipped to stay one step ahead of the organised poachers that have impacted elephant populations in Africa.
Technology, systematic data processing systems and intelligence collection are the key to the initiative. Local communities keep a vigilant eye on suspicious activity – from detecting unknown tyre prints to seeing camp fire smoke from outside a village area. This data is then catalogued and forensically analyised and any emerging patterns shared with field rangers who can put plans in place to counter potential threats. Rangers are provided with communications and mobility equipment including GPS, smartphones, radios and satellite equipment which enable them to respond more effectively and rapidly to intercept poachers.
In partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust, the initiative provides training and mentoring to 130 Kenya Wildlife Service and community rangers.
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TUI Care Foundation, commented, “An exciting aspect of this project lies in its combination of local knowledge on the one hand and the latest technological developments on the other. Together with various local stakeholders we are helping to build a strong basis for a sustainable social-ecological environment. Empowering the local community and building sense of ownership is crucial for long-lasting change.
Faye Cuevas, Senior Vice President at IFAW said, “TUI Care Foundation has made it possible for us to provide urgently needed equipment to community rangers such as mobile devices, cameras and boots so they can collect information on potential threats to wildlife and people. State-of-the-art crime scene investigation training supported by TUI Care Foundation means that rangers can now better protect Tsavo’s ‘big tuskers’ from unique threats like poison arrow poaching through more efficient collection and preservation of forensic evidence at a poaching crime scene.”
As part of its TUI Elephant Aid programme, TUI Care Foundation has been actively supporting projects for the protection of elephant populations worldwide since its foundation. In Tanzania, local farmers were taught how to protect their crops with elephant friendly solutions and foster a virtuous coexistence with these ancient creatures. In Thailand, TUI Care Foundation currently supports local entrepreneurs to develop elephant friendly venues where visitors can experience elephants in their natural habitat.
About TUI Care Foundation
Building on the potential of tourism as a force for good, the TUI Care Foundation supports and initiates partnerships and projects which create new opportunities for the young generation and contribute to thriving communities all over the world. Connecting holidaymakers to good causes, the TUI Care Foundation fosters education and training initiatives to open up new opportunities and perspectives for young people, the protection of the natural environment in holiday destinations and sustainable livelihoods in thriving destinations where local communities can benefit even more from tourism. TUI Care Foundation works global and acts local - building on strong partnerships with local and international organisations to create meaningful, long lasting impact. The charitable foundation values transparency and the efficient use of funds. 100% of donations go to destination programmes with all administration costs of the foundation covered by TUI.
Founded in 1969 the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, IFAW rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with governments and local communities, experienced campaigners, legal and political experts and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.
Stories from the Frontline of Elephant Conservation
As a conservation driven organisation, African Bush Camps promote and influence African travel on a global scale while operating with an environmentally sustainable footprint. Employing an ethos that strives to empower local communities in the areas in which they operate, a strong focus on conservation is at the heart of their operation. How Many Elephants has a simple mission. Stop the poaching of African elephants. Simple but critical. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. That is 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year.
Headline Speaker: Holly Budge Adventurer | Conservationist | Designer
Holly will share her adventurous fundraising tales from her journey to Everest to immersing herself with the Black Mambas, an all-female front line anti-poaching team in South Africa. Holly founded 'How Many Elephants', a design-led campaign, to inspire and educate a global audience about the impact of the elephant ivory trade. To date, she has raised over £300k for charity.
Headline Speaker: Dr. Niall McCann National Geographic Explorer | Conservationist | Biologist
Niall is the Director of Conservation for National Park Rescue, a direct-action conservation organisation that focuses on preventing the slaughter of elephants, rhinos and lions in sub-Saharan Africa. Niall presented award-winning documentary Lost in the Amazon and two seasons of the multi award-winning Biggest and Baddest.
Bonus Speaker: Beks Ndlovu Professional Guide | Founder of African Bush Camps
Through African Bush Camps and their foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur and is proving to be one of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the Tourism Industry, one who continues to promote and influence African travel on a global scale.
Proceeds from the evening go to the How Many Elephants Campaign which supports National Park
Rescue and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in Zimbabwe and the Black Mambas in South Africa.
“An impactful campaign which highlights the need to end the killing of Africa's elephants by reducing the demand for ivory.” Tusk
About How Many Elephants:
The 'How Many Elephants' Campaign uses design as a powerful visual communication tool to raise global awareness of the devastating impacts of the African elephant crisis. Few people know that 96 African elephants are poached daily for their ivory. At this astonishing rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade.
The multi award-winning, design-led campaign is hard-hitting in the way it showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes, the current annual poaching rate in Africa, in a striking exhibition. Every day for a year, a square of 96 elephants is posted depicting the daily poaching rate to show the sheer scale of the poaching crisis. Gruesome images of mutilated elephants have been purposely avoided. To actually see and connect with this data visually is highly impactful.
About African Bush Camps
African Bush Camps is a private, owner-run African-based safari company that speaks to the art of service and offers you an authentic safari experience in the untamed African wilderness. Focused on your experience as our guest, our professional guides and nature enthusiasts will be on hand to ensure your journey with African Bush Camps is the very best safari experience imaginable.
How Many Elephants
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. I write for national papers / magazines, consumer and trade. Email me here