It is always exciting to see the first signs of Spring anywhere in the UK. For some people the sign that Spring has arrived is the smell of freshly cut grass, for others it is having their first barbecue of the year and for some it is being able to go to the beach and enjoy the sun. But for us here at the AWT the first signs of Spring are some very special flowering plants and spotting the first birds to lay an egg.

On Alderney, at this time of year, we see the first Orchids coming in to flower. These are very stunning little plants that are always exciting to see and very colourful to photograph.

Green-Winged Orchid

Green-Winged Orchid

The other plant that we always look out for at the beginning of Spring are the Bluebells.

Bluebells

Bluebells

These pretty little flowers are extra special to us here as they also flower on Burhou. Soon they will cover large areas of the island, with Gulls nesting amongst them. We are certainly looking forward to such a sight and will be posting photos of it for you all to enjoy later in the season.

Of course, as the Seabird Ecologist, Spring has only truly arrived for me when I see the first bird nests with eggs in them. This year the first eggs we have seen are in Gannet and Shag nests.

Firstly the Gannets. Once a week Vicky and I will go and monitor the Gannet colony on Les Etacs. We do this by sitting on the cliffs of Alderney and using our binoculars or telescope to see the Gannet nests more clearly.

Tim getting a good angle to watch the Gannets

Tim getting a good angle to watch the Gannets

We are watching the Gannets every week for Vicky's PhD project. Part of this project is a productivity study. This means that once a week we go and count the Gannet eggs and watch as they hatch and grow up, so then we will know how many chicks have been raised on Les Etacs this year. On Wednesday the 17th April we saw the first Gannet egg on Les Etacs and are very much looking forward to watching it hatch and grow over the coming months.

Vicky's project also studies Shags in a similar way. These birds nest on Burhou and on Saturday during a trip to the island Vicky and I counted 18 nests. 7 of these nests already had eggs in!

Tim and Vicky locate Shag nests on a map of Burhou

Tim and Vicky locate Shag nests on a map of Burhou

Shag nest

Shag nest

We are very excited to see the first signs of Spring here on Alderney and Burhou. But we would like to know what are the first signs of Spring where you live, and when did you first see or hear them this year? Post your answers in the comments below.

Weather Forecast:

weather-symbol

Thursday 25th April

Max 10 degrees / Min 8 degrees

Wind direction: Westerly 6mph

Description: Fog

Today's Puffin Fact

A Puffin burrow is 1 to 1.5 feet long - although sometimes they will use a Rabbit warren as a burrow, making them bigger.