Guernsey is home to a huge variety of wildlife, from gannets and gulls to the humble Guernsey vole - native only to the Orkneys and Guernsey itself. The great diversity of species reflects the many different habitats that the island provides: grasslands, towering cliffs, open sandy beaches and wooded valleys allow varying animals and birds to reside here. The best way to discover the wealth of wildlife? Put on your walking shoes and venture outside, heading for the beaches, cliffs, woods and country lanes.
La Société Guernesiaise is an organisation whose goal is to preserve Guernsey’s biodiversity. They run many nature reserves across the island, creating havens for wildlife that provide the perfect opportunity for nature enthusiasts to admire the different species whilst respecting their natural habitats. Here are just a few that promise an immersive experience into Guernsey’s abundance of wildlife.
The Ramsar site at L’Eree Shingle Bank is the island’s first Ramsar site, an international organisation dedicated to protecting wetland habitats and the rare species that they support. The shingle bank located here is an important breeding ground during the spring and summer months for birds such as the famously bright-beaked Oyster Catcher.
Wandering along the shingle bank, you will also see the Colin Best Nature Reserve and the Claire Mare area, both owned by La Société Guernesiaise, with the latter being considered one of the best birding sites on the island, thanks to a cleverly positioned bird hide.
All in all, over 150 different species of birds have been identified here, making it a paradise for ornithologists. Bring your binoculars and add your discoveries to the bird book that can be found in the hide.
There is another bird hide located at Vale Pond, in the north of Guernsey. Here, you have a prime view over the meadow and pond, habitat of many waterbirds. Snipes, Herons and Little Egrets come here to enjoy the coolness of the water on a hot summer’s day. The neighbouring meadow sometimes hosts grazing Cows and some interesting insects reside in the surrounding granite walls, so a trip to Vale Pond presents an opportunity to experience the variety of wildlife that Guernsey has to offer.
Pleinmont is also home to many species, thanks to the six diverse habitats that make up the south west of the island, ranging from gorse scrub to coastal grassland. The area is not only frequented in the summer by the smaller wild birds, such as Stonechats and Linnets, but also magnificent birds of prey such as Kestrels and Peregrine Falcons. However, interest should not be limited solely to the skies: Pleinmont boasts weird and wonderful insects as well, such as the blue-winged grasshopper and the Glanville Fritillary. Dedicated paths that wind through La Société’s reserve will guide you along the cliffs and through the fields and scrub, allowing you to witness the wildlife up close.
You don’t have to venture to the cliff edge to explore Guernsey’s biodiversity - meandering down the lanes of western parishes such as St Saviours and Torteval will inevitably involve a meeting with a Guernsey Donkey or the well-known Guernsey Cow. Famed for its rich milk, the cows graze in the rural areas along with the golden goats, whose milk is also used to produce local goats cheese. Afterwards, don’t forget to sample their celebrated produce to complete the experience.