The birds were spotted making landfall at about noon on 16 February, when thousands were seen circling the colony in a repeat of the landfall event last year.
‘It is a fantastic sight to see the gannets return and offers a glimmer of hope, but the wait is now on to see how many nest sites are filled,’ said Alderney Wildlife Trust Ramsar officer Alex Purdie.
Alderney’s two gannet colonies make up more than 1% of the world’s northern gannet population and there are about 6,000 pairs on Les Etacs and an additional 2,700 pairs on Ortac, both of which areas are within the island’s Ramsar site. AWT has reported that since 2015 the colonies have shown signs of slowing population growth, something also found in southern colonies which are also under pressure from warming sea temperatures and offshore wind developments as well as avian flu. The disease reached Alderney in June last year and UK experts used data from bird rings deployed by the CI bird ringing scheme to estimate the losses at between 20 and 25% of the gannet population.
Several organisations in Alderney and across the Channel Islands are now working together to develop a programme to monitor for any new outbreaks of avian flu in the colonies
The colonies can be viewed on the GannetCam live webstream on Facebook.