Saturday, 21 June 2014

Northern France!

Another brilliant day trip to Northern France in the company of AJG and SO. Driving down the motorway to Sailly Bray 2 Spoonbills flew over and in the nearby village of Bonnelle a superb male Black Redstart sang from a TV aerial. As soon as we got out the car at Sailly Bray our ears were assaulted by bird song, Turtle Doves purring, numerous Blackcaps, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Wrens, Stonechats and a Grasshopper Warbler. The only slight disappointment was that the farmer was cutting the grass right in front of where the Bluethroats are usually seen. However we still saw Reed and Corn Buntings, Reed, Sedge and Ceetti's Warblers, a Mediterranean Gull, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Common Buzzards, 4 Turtle Doves, 16 Black-winged Stilts, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and heard a Marsh Warbler and only 3 Crows one of which was in Larson Trap and no Magpies, so missing a Bluethroat was not a problem.   
 Next stop Le Crotoy where 100s of nesting Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings, White Wagtails, 3 Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret, several Little Egrets and a White Stork.
 Next stop Marquanterre where White Storks, Spoonbills, Cattle, Little and Great white Egrets, Spoonbills and Grey Herons were seen, also 4+ Crested Tits performed admirably, unfortunately not well enough for the camera.
Chateau at our Honey Buzzard stop

 Our usual stop Honey buzzard stop on the D938 to Crecy-en-Ponthieu was once again a great success. The first Honey Buzzard appeared  within 2 minutes, in the next 15 minutes 3 more appeared. These were bettered when we wandered into the grounds of a Chateau, a Honey Buzzard flew low around us giving us stunning views.

 Next we drove north to Guinnes Marsh but were unable to find the boardwalk (lack of forward planning) however we still managed to find a singing Icterine Warbler.
We decided to go to Oye Plage where we came across a Little Tern colony on the beach. From the hides on the nature reserve we saw nesting Black-necked and Little Grebes, 100+ pairs of Avocets and numerous Lapwings nesting and not a predator proof fence to be seen, what we didn't see was Crows and Magpies and I am pretty sure that Foxes and Badgers are controlled. We also saw a flock of 17 Mistle Thrushes there, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds.
A couple of miles further along the coast we found at least 8 Kentish Plovers and some young and at another site found another pair also even more nesting Lapwings. Along the coast we did see a few Crows and Magpies but not the clouds of them that you see here. We stopped to check out a possible site for wintering Snow Buntings and Shorelarks and another singing Icterine Warbler, a superb end to a brilliant days birding in great company, many thanks to AJG for doing the driving.
Kentish Plovers

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