Hoopoe's unscheduled stop excites twitchers

BIRD enthusiasts have been flocking to Alderney Lighthouse to get a glimpse of an exotic visitor.

Bill Black’s picture of a hoopoe near the Alderney Lighthouse.
Bill Black’s picture of a hoopoe near the Alderney Lighthouse.

BIRD enthusiasts have been flocking to Alderney Lighthouse to get a glimpse of an exotic visitor.

A Hoopoe has been sighted there by various eagle-eyed residents over the past week, an accidental migrant usually spied only once or twice in the spring.

It is thought to have been blown off course from France to Alderney, while en route to its winter quarters in southern Spain or Africa.

About the size of a mistle thrush, the hoopoe has a pinkish-brown body, striking black and white wings, a long down-curved bill and a long pinkish-brown crest, which it raises when excited.

Alderney Wildlife Trust has reported several sightings of the hoopoe eating grubs and caterpillars in the undergrowth near the lighthouse.

AWT ecologist James Allison said: ‘Hoopoes are uncommon migrants. Normally one or two turn up in Alderney every year, usually in spring. They’re found in France and so sometimes ‘get lost’ during their migration, usually during periods of strong winds. This one will have been migrating towards south Spain/Africa and must have got blown in.’

He said he expected it would set off on its migration again very shortly.

In Britain, the most frequent sightings of hoopoes are in the spring when single birds overshoot when migrating north to France.

Harbour chandlery Mainbrayce is to close at the end of December if no buyer can be found for it.

Owners James and Penny Hutton have decided that they will leave by the end of the year whether or not they can find someone to pass the business on to.

They took on Mainbrayce four years ago and expanded the business.

But, said Mrs Hutton, their feelings about Alderney changed after her husband was banned from driving for a year, making it difficult for him to pursue his day-to-day living.

‘We kept it going, but it changed my husband’s attitude to Alderney,’ said Mrs Hutton. ‘It is a very good and profitable business, but after seven years we want to return to Britain.

‘So we have now set a date for our departure and unfortunately if no one is found to take the business over, then the shop will close.’

Mainbrayce sells boating equipment, carries out yacht repairs and from 1 April to the end of September operates the water taxi. It also supplies marine fuel year-round.

They would prefer to sell the business before they leave so they can show the new owners the ropes and so local boatmen won’t be left in the lurch.

Mrs Hutton said expert marine knowledge was not a requirement. ‘When I first worked in the marine business in Scotland, I didn’t know the front end of the boat from the back. It’s a business you can easily learn.’

l Anyone interested should contact the Huttons on info@mainbrayce.co.uk to find out more.

Comments for: "Hoopoe's unscheduled stop excites twitchers"

Guernseasider

I lived in Almeria, Spain for 10 years and saw these every day. Funny little birds they are. Very distinctive call.