It's been a while since I've done a post but the July heatwave drove me indoors for the afternoons at least and most of Charente's birds seemed to go into hiding also. We did have a cooler spell at the end of the month but now we are back into the mid thirties.
Nevertheless, there is a little to report: I saw (as opposed to heard) my first quail of the summer a week or ago; I flushed it from a stubble field on the plains as I cycled past. I have seen various red backed shrikes in their usual locations but the family group on the plains yesterday was in a spot where I had seen only a solitary female earlier in the summer.
Even more remarkable for a bird in an unexpected place was today's black woodpecker. It flew across open fields not far from Chenet (about three kilometres from my house) and disappeared into a smallish oak wood with trees no higher than twenty feet whereupon it began to call and continued to do so for the next ten minutes. This species is usually associated with large forests and tall trees but several of my sightings suggest that it can occupy more open country and move from one area of woodland to another--- typical Charente landscape in fact.
Another good bird earlier on today's ride was a hawfinch. Even in flight these birds are easy to identify with their chunky, short-tailed profile and their broad wing bar. They make it even easier when they do their clicking sound.
Stone curlews have not been showing well and, as always, I fear for their survival and it seems not to have been a good summer for hen or montague's harriers either.