It's seems like a long time away but I'm finally back in Charente and a cold one it is! On Thursday when I arrived, the temperature was below freezing and several inches of snow are lying on the ground today.
Nevertheless the birds need to be recorded and so I've braved the elements. The most notable thing on Friday Feb 3 was the large number of song thrushes that were feeding by the roadsides and in the fields. there were also plenty of blackbirds but no sign of redwings and fieldfares which are the usual thrush suspects at this time of year. Brambling were also distinctly absent from the chaffinch flocks and I managed to see just one, albeit my first of the year. A short toed treecreeper was a welcome sight in the old sweet chestnuts.
Yesterday produced 29 species of birds around La Tache including two more s.t.treecreepers, a nuthatch and three woodlark.
Today (in the snow) 29 species again revealed themselves--but a slightly different bunch. A male hen harrier was having a tough time trying to see anything to eat as he flew over the snow drifts. Several cirl buntings were feeding with the chaffinch flocks but the largest flocks by far were those of skylarks which were in the hundreds as they whirled about and dotted the snow.
At the two opposite ends of the bird size spectrum, three big mute swans flew low over my head while I was on top of the plains and a tiny, bright firecrest was feeding with long tailed tits among the hedgerow trees as I dropped back into la Tache.
I note that the signs have gone up on the plains to indicate that 8 wind turbines are soon to be built there. At 105 metres in height they will dominate the landscape and probably completely end the sense of the wide open space. I know they are all part of the grand plan for renewable energy but I have become increasingly sceptical about their real contribution to this laudable end and although arguably more attractive that the electricity pylons which have scarred our landscapes for so long, I think they nevertheless are an unwanted visual intrusion into the rural scene. Any impact on our birds remains to be seen.