Well, it’s the end of May and more or less the end of what has been a rather disappointing Spring migration. Whether this has been because of some erratic weather such as late frosts, a protracted dry period and unseasonal heat or simply that the numbers of returning birds are continuing to fall I don’t know but the finger is pointing towards climate change as well as the effects of intensive agricultural practices.
To provide some personal figures from the last two months, I’ve seen only two red backed shrikes and half a dozen hoopoes, one garden warbler, two little ringed plovers, two short toed eagles and not a single honey buzzard or spotted fly catcher.
The dry late winter and early Spring meant that there were no flooded fields which largely accounts for the shortage of wildfowl and wader sightings although there were some individuals reported from the high lakes and the west of Charente.
On a more cheerful note, early May was the most interesting time with ten or more wheatears together in a field not far from my home and shortly afterwards I came across two whinchats, a species seen regularly during the autumn migration but rarely in Spring. Nightingales seem to be an exception to the general scarcity as they have been singing everywhere and it’s only recently that I’ve stopped hearing cuckoos virtually every day. Stone curlews are in their usual locations near the turbines and corn buntings, cirl buntings, stonechats and skylarks seem to be in good numbers. Yellow wagtails are breeding their as well as probably are quail but the only one I’ve heard this year was a few kilometres away. Hen harriers are not frequent this year but I’ve seen quite a few black kites.
I saw my first golden orioles although I’ve heard a few singing during the last few weeks, including one in my garden.
Speaking of which, here’s a list of what’s breeding this year in my acre or so of garden/park, woodland and buildings. Kestrel, wood pigeon, black redstart and possibly common redstart, serin, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, firecrest, blackbird, great tit, blue tit house sparrow and blackcap.(plus moorhen in the adjacent pond).
I’ve added a few of my pics of some of the mentioned birds. I’ll let you sort them out.