Thursday, 8 December 2016


An excellent trip across the channel to the Dunkirk area with MH, AJG and CP who did the driving. The train was slightly delayed this morning but not enough to make a difference to us. First stop was the Dunkirk Canal, not the most attractive area with flames burning gases from high heavy industrial chimneys smelling very sulphurous. In the canal a Red-necked Grebe showed well in the windy conditions and very poor early morning light, also a distant Slavonian Grebe and Shag. The area looks to have loads of potential for birds and easily accessible and little disturbance, with the canal one side and the beach the other, you can drive along the sea wall for about 2 miles to Dunkirk harbour entrance. If this site were in the UK the health and safety brigade would prevent public access or the National Trust would charge you an arm and leg use it. The harbour entrance held 2 Grey Seals and a Common Seal, a few Linnets and Reed Buntings, though we failed to connect with the wintering Snow Buntings. Along the shore Sanderling, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Gulls. MH showed his love of Gulls by finding an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the shore
 Red-necked Grebe in the windy gloom
 Our nest stop was Grande Fort Phillipe where we quickly located 10 Shorelarks, my images do not do them justice as they gave excellent scope views but I couldn't get near them, however the the local dog walkers were able to walk right up to them, maybe I should get a dog. We new some Twite had been seen at this site recently so we spent quite a time wandering the salt marsh looking for them, in the process seeing more Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits, Little Egrets, 4 Spoonbill, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. We had just got back to the car when we spotted a party of passerines c500mts away flying around which we felt sure were Twite, we pin pointed where they landed and moved closer. When we got nearer and trained our scopes on them the gleaming yellow bills were  a give away and there were 8 Twite picking up seeds from the edge of the salt marsh, the icing on the cake was the 10 Shorelarks flying in and joining them, I certainly cannot remember ever seeing Shorelark and Twite in the same scope view feeding together a superb experience, unfortunately to distant for any satisfactory images.
Next stop was Oye Plage which was surprisingly birdy considering the amount of shooting that goes on here. I have never seen so many Snipe 150+ counted, also 200+Shelduck, lots of Mallard and Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Little Grebe, Greylag and Canada Geese Egyptian Goose, Barnacle Goose, a ring tail Hen Harrier and Common Buzzards. The light was fading when we left abut we still managed a Kingfisher and 2 more Buzzards along The Digue. A thoroughly enjoyable day out in excellent company and a renditions of songs I cannot repeat in writing though thoroughly amusing. Many thanks again to MH for providing the transport and CP for the driving, not forgetting AJG for giving us loads of laughs. Retirement Rocks!!!


  1. Sounds like an adult-only version of 'Last of the Summer Wine' Martin...