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First gannets are back on Alderney rocks

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GANNETS are settling back in on Les Etacs and Ortac in their hundreds.

This picture by Anne-Isabelle Bourdon shows some of the early arrivals on Les Etacs.

The Alderney sea stacks are home to around 8,800 breeding pairs of northern gannets, which make up just over 2% of the world population.

They return to nest on the rocks each year, arriving in February and leaving in October for their wintering grounds in the Mediterranean and West Africa.

Despite strong winds they have arrived a few days early this year.

The gannets will now begin to find their partners and eventually start building or rebuilding their nests.

By the time breeding begins, the colony will be very densely packed and pairs will compete for space, often getting into vicious fights with neighbours.

Older, more experienced pairs will get better nest spots at the top of the colony while young pairs will be lower down, where their nests may even wash away in harsh weather.

For now, until they begin to lay eggs in a few months, the birds will be feeding up on fish from around the coast of Alderney and further afield.

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