With its rich variety of landscapes, from rocky coastline to inland woodland and marshes, Guernsey is a popular habitat for birdlife. So much so, that the island – which is only 25 square miles – has over 300 species of bird recorded. As guests at The Old Government House Hotel and The Duke of Richmond Hotel will find out, the Channel Islands are popular with migrating birds, including many varieties not found in mainland UK, while the region’s diverse environments means a wide range of habitats for many different breeds. Remember to pack your binoculars; here’s why you should go bird watching in Guernsey.
Variety of Birds
Given its varied landscape, bird watchers can expect to see a great range of bird species in Guernsey. Visit Guernsey’s southern and eastern cliffs; unspoilt and with pockets of woodland, they serve as a habitat for breeds such as the short-toed treecreeper. Also found in this terrain is the brightly coloured serin and, most interestingly, the Dartford warbler. This species was believed to have died out after a series of severe winters in the 1980s, but has fortunately reappeared. Come springtime, Guernsey benefits from birds overshooting their breeding areas and serves as a makeshift home for bee-eaters, golden orioles and hoopoes.
Guernsey’s seabirds are a major attraction for bird lovers. Visitors can expect to see the likes of puffins, storm petrels, Manx shearwater and fulmar whilst exploring the island’s coastline. An excellent way to increase your chances of a sighting is to hop aboard one of the boat tours that are regularly organised around the islands of Herm and Jethou. What’s more, for those keen to combine bird watching with some light exercise, puffin-watching kayak trips are also available.
The Guernsey RSPB works hard to protect and nurture the island’s precious birdlife. Championing Guernsey’s environment and avian residents, the organization regularly stages talks, guided walks and boat tours.
Guernsey is home to an impressive array of nature reserves, all of which promise excellent bird watching opportunities. Start at La Claire Mare, which is well equipped with reed beds, ponds, salt marsh and meadow and is a preferred habitat for marsh harriers and peregrines. Adjoining La Claire Mare and on the site of the island’s first airfield, Colin Best Nature Reserve is now better known for its population of wader birds. Similarly, Lihou Island is a haven for birds. Here it’s possible to see oystercatchers when the tide is out, hunting for food in tidal pools, as well as Grey herons and little egrets.
La Grand Havre Bay is equally worth visiting for its population of dunlins, sanderlings and turnstones, whilst the reed beds at Rue des Bergers are a haven for Reed Warblers and Snipe.