Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Last of the Summer Wine Crew in Northern France

Myself, MH,CP,AJG and PT our driver for the day had a superb day in Northern France today in search of Black Woodpeckers and Middle spotted Woodpeckers. We went over early via Eurotunnel and drove straight to Crecy Forest seeing several pairs of Grey Partridges on the way and my first Swallow of the year over the motorway.
In the forest we parked up and wandered along one of the tracks having brief views of Red Kite and Hawfinch. Nuthatches were calling all around and several Marsh Tits were seen. It was not long before we heard a Woodpecker calling which then flew over us, as soon it landed CP got onto it immediately identifying it as a Middle Spotted Woodpecker. It eventually showed well to all of us along with its mate. Being buoyed with our success we drove onto another part of the forest for Black Woodpecker. As we got out the car the forest floor appeared to rise up as 100s possibly 1000s of Redwing took off moving to the canopy. For a few minutes the cacophony of sound from calling Redwing, something which I have never experienced and recalled a large Starling roost resounded through the forest. While watching and listening to this we heard another pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers which also showed well Fantastic! While in the forest we also had good views of several Short-toed Treecreepers which were busy calling and chasing one another, Firecrests and more Marsh Tits. Although we did not achieve our prize of Black Woodpecker we had a truly amazing time in the forest. 
                                   Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Crecy forest
                                   c50 miles as the Woodpecker flies from Dungeness!!!!
 We move on to Sailly Bray, on arrival the wind had increased so the chances of seeing the Bluethroats were not good and weren't surprised not to see any. However at the entrance a fine male Black Redstart, a White Wagtail, several Chiffchaffs, a Sand Martin and 12 Swallows greeted us. 2 Stonechats were along the fence line, 2 Great White Egrets, 2+ Marsh Harriers, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2+ Common Buzzards were over the marsh, as we leaving another Red Kite and Goshawk gave us brief views.

 Next stop was Le Crotoy ponds which can be viewed easily from the road or if you are feeling lazy you need not leave the warmth of the car.
 At Le Crotoy we saw a pair of Garganey, 2 Spoonbills, 2 more Great White Egrets, 5 White Storks flew over, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 more superb White Wagtails, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Common Snipe and at least 2 stunning Water Pipits. More about our day out can be seen HERE

Our last stop of the day was at Sangatte where AJG picked out a Stone Curlew despite the freezing and now blasting wind. A superb end to a brilliant day in Northern France with 87 species seen without really trying. I am sure the The Last of the Summer Wine Crew will be back in Northern France a few more times this year having loads more laughs and superb birding.