Two good species today.
I can thank the chasse for the woodcock. They were (very unsportingly given the freezing conditions) out in force around a La Tache wood this afternoon. As I was manouvering around one of their parked vehicles in the snow, a woodcock flew up from the roadside and moved ahead of me along the road , its slow wingbeats being very reminiscent of an owl. Fortunately the men with the guns did not seem to see this beautiful and secretive creature and it crossed the road to enter a wood in an adjacent field.
On reflection, the hunters were probably intent on bigger game; I had seen four young wildboar and heard the adults in the same wood earlier in the day.
The mainly crepuscular woodcock is supposed to breed in the Charente forests but this is the first one that I have seen here.
I risked driving down to the Son-Sonette river at Valence (and only just made it back as the wind had drifted the snow across the road over the plains making them virtually impassable). Birdwise the trip was worth it though as a flock of 9 jack snipe were feeding in the shallows. They were nervous and occasionally they silently flew off and circled low down through the poplars before coming back to the same spot. About the same number of lapwings were with them.
One advantage of severe weather conditions is that unusual birds can turn up anywhere and that usual ones can turn up in unusual places.
I just managed to get beyond 30 species today ! When the weather improves we might get some cranes.