Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Birds that stop off in the still flooded fields


little ringed plover, crane and dunlin have all spent time in the Tardoire valley this week.


 Surely one of Europe’s most exotic birds and very difficult to find, the wallcreeper often brightens Charente’s winters by descending from its high mountain breeding grounds and feeding on the sheer walls of our chateaux and churches. La Rochefoucauld is one of its traditional haunts but as the chateau has been closed for several months because of Covid restrictions it has been possible to search for it only on the exterior walls. It was not until today, however, that I finally managed to locate an individual although a few other observers had managed to see it earlier in the year.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Early Spring 2021


After yet another protracted absence from the blog, here are a few pics of some of the more interesting birds which I have come across so fat this year.
Lapwings are not rare of course but this year there have been exceptional  numbers on the flooded fields  of theTardoire valley.The flocks peaked at around a thousand often in the company of a similar number of golden lovers.
Cattle egrets have been very plentiful also, sometimes in flocks of over one hundred. Great white egrets have not been hard to find either but usually in small groups of up to three.
Dartford warblers obligingly showed up in the gorse near Soyaux and the perigrine falcon was in a quarry in the north of the department. Th floode fields also held lesser black backed gulls and black headed gulls but the great crested grebe was on the Mas Chaban lake.
The tiny zitting cisticola was seen near Agris as was the tree sparrow.
We await now the arrival of the main spring migrants as the cranes have already passed in their tens of thousands.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Black winged kite

 For some reason the photo of this stunning bird did not upload to the last post. At least 3 individuals were present during the summer

Back at Xmas!

 It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog and my excuses seem to appear familiar........

Very busy;

Salving my conscience by providing bird sightings to Charente Nature which I daresay some followers of this blog are registered with.

The usual frustrations with Google who sometimes refuse to let me into the site.

Anyway, covid restrictions continue but that has not affected the birds (as far as I know) nor has it really hampered my efforts to observe them, although the period when travel from the house was limited to 1kilometre posed a bit of a handicap.

Looking back, the main highlights have been the black winged kites which graced the Tardoire valley for several weeks, an Iberian grey shrike near La Rochette, several woodchat shrikes, autumn flocks of little bustards near Tusson and stone curlews near Saint Angeau, crested tit in the Braconne Forest, black storks in the Tardoire and Charente valleys, booted eagle and an almost certain distant Griffin vulture.

And now some belated photos starting with woodlarks, a species which was delightfully plentiful this year.

A Stone curlew, one of a flock of more than 20

A red kite posing on the plains

Little bustards

Iberian grey shrike

Saturday, 2 May 2020

May Day .....and Rain

May Day 2020 may well go down as one of the most miserable that Charente has experienced as along with the lock down and cancellation of all festivities we also had a very cold and wet day.
But that’s the bad news, the good is that the birds don’t seem to be much troubled by such things except perhaps those who are trying to fledge and feed their young.

I came across one such when I risked a brief gap in the showers to visit the nearby plains. It was a skylark which appeared on the track in front of me and proceeded to run ahead with its right wing hanging down. Concerned, I tried to keep up with its pace while thinking I might have to rescue it. It took me a good three minutes and then the bird dying off to realise that it had been feigning the injury to lead me away from its nest.

Before I returned home I once again saw the blue headed wagtails which also seem to be nesting nearby and presumably the same whitethroats, corn buntings and linnets which I saw on the rape crop     a couple of days back. Some of the latter seem to be paired up but there is also a flock of about 45 of them which hang around together. The most unexpected birds of my short trip, though, were a pair of rock sparrows which were feeding on the ground close to eolien number 7.

Other news is that my wait for a hoopoe sighting ended yesterday and I also had the pleasure of watching several swifts screaming through Saint Angeau, while last night I listened to the rather more melodious sound of a nightingale in my garden.

A wagtail on the rape

A grey partridge makes a change from the usual red-legged

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Wheatears at Last

As I’m sure I’ve said in several previous posts, the arrival of wheatears always confirms (for me at least) that Spring has definitely arrived. This is most likely a hangover from my years on the Isle of Wight when the sight of these elegant birds pertly standing on the short turf of the downs was a much anticipated sight.
They don’t turn up in the same numbers her (and, rather strangely, do so later than 400 miles further north) but I was pleased to see a single male on the nearby plains on Saturday and then another one the following day. Also up there were several blue-headed wagtails, a couple of whinchats, a pair of cisticolas, a grey partridge and a black kite.
Around the garden the song of the golden oriole has now joined that of the cuckoo, the turtle dove and the nightingale....but the resident blackbird’s song is still the most beautiful.