Thursday, 5 March 2015

Peregrine Falcons

Peregrines are very rare birds in Charente, in fact the literature refers to the last breeding being attempted in the 1970's and despite their name they are not great wanderers from elsewhere. It was a great surprise therefore to come across a breeding pair today. It would be irresponsible on an open site such as this to reveal the whereabouts as they are sadly highly prized by egg collectors and even more so by illegal falconers. Suffice to say they were in a quarry and became very agitated and noisy at my unexpected appearance. I'm very used to seeing these beautiful raptors as they nest on the cliffs near my old Isle of Wight home but this is the first time that I've seen them sitting in a tree which is what they both did after leaving the rock face. Quite apart from their bright plumage, the intense yellow of their legs in the sunshine was truly startling.

After a sharp overnight frost the day dawned bright and sunny and the gloves that I needed for an early morning start were abandoned by the warm afternoon as was my fleece. Lapwings were everywhere, probably numbering at least a thousand spread over various locations but I could not find a single golden plover among them unlike yesterday. Huge numbers of white wagtails were still mixed in with them though.

Two male blackcaps, seen at very different locations, were perhaps early arrivals rather than overwintering birds which had come out to enjoy the sunshine, but the only other warbler that I saw was a solitary chiffchaff.

The black kite and the 130 cranes which I saw in mid afternoon were genuine migrants but almost as interesting was the sight of a resident marsh warbler and my first two brimstone butterflies of this Spring.

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