Saturday, 17 May 2014

Pas De Calais!

 I met AJG and BP at silly o-clock to catch the 04.20 ferry to Calais. On the way to Sailly Bray we saw several Grey Partridges Yellowhammers and Corn Bunting in the fields by the motorway. Arriving at Sailly Bray at 07.00 the air was full of bird song. Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Song Thrushes, Cuckoo's, Reed, Cetti's and Sedge Warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler, 3+ Bluethroats, Marsh Warblers a Melodious Warbler, Rubicola Stonechats, Nightingales, 6 Turtle Doves, over the reed beds were Marsh Harriers, Great White and Little Egrets, White Storks, More Grey Partridges, Hares, nesting Lapwings, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets and more. No Magpies and only 4 Crows were seen and 2 of those were in a Larson Trap which helps to explain the profusion of birds at this site. It is a superb wetland site maintained for hunters with the up side of lots of breeding wading and song birds. A bit different to the Dungeness fields where the Crows and Magpies at least 50 tonight are left to plunder the nesting birds. The few that do manage to get as far as nesting are continually harassed by the Crows as they queue up to take the eggs and young.
 Next stop was St Valery where 40+ Great White Egrets, more Black-winged Stilts, Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears, another singing Bluethroat and more were seen.
 Next stop was Le Crotoy road side pools. Where 100s of noisy nesting Black-headed Gulls were seen, a pair of Garganey mating and another drake, several White Wagtails, 4 Cattle Egrets, more White Storks and Egrets and 2 Swallowtails.
Honey Buzzard near Wissant.
A brief visit to Marquanterre saw more White Storks, Spoonbills, Egrets, Grey Herons and Night Heron and Crested Tits.
A view point over Crecy Forest gave us distant views of 3 Honey Buzzards and a singing Golden Oriole.
On the way home as drove towards Blanc Nez a large raptor was spotted, we quickly pulled up and jumped out of the car to see a superb classic plumaged Honey Buzzard overhead, as it drifted away it did its roller coater display flight and then started wing clapping, a marvellous sight and great way to end a brilliant day seeing a respectable 106 species. 


  1. Saw your comment on crows.
    Last week at Restharrow scrape I watched a flock of jackdaws (~15) harassing a pair of lapwings for over 2 hrs. For a good while the lapwings would try to chase them off but as time went on as the lapwings took flight 4 or 5 jackdaws would chase them. By the time I left the lapwings were hardly getting off the ground - exhaustion I assume - and the jackdaws were getting closer on the ground. I assume they eventually succeeded in getting the chicks.
    Around Sandwich numbers of small birds are terrible, corn buntings are dropping and mippits are very scarce compared to a few years ago. The few waders that breed around the scrape are always losing most of their chicks. The corvids need to be culled.

  2. I couldn't agree more. It's a pity the RSPB and Natural England won't listen!

  3. Nice post Martin, looking forward to that H. Buzzard the channel for a nice break in the Shadoxhurst area.
    Crows -I share your sentiments Martin. Last night, 12 plus Crows waiting by the Lapwings at Romney Marsh, trouble is the Harriers were up to it too.

  4. I also agree that corvid control is fundamental for more diverse and abundant birdlife. I wish the RSPB (and NE) would do more in the South-east to limit their negative effects.