Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Black winged kite

 For some reason the photo of this stunning bird did not upload to the last post. At least 3 individuals were present during the summer

Back at Xmas!

 It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog and my excuses seem to appear familiar........

Very busy;

Salving my conscience by providing bird sightings to Charente Nature which I daresay some followers of this blog are registered with.

The usual frustrations with Google who sometimes refuse to let me into the site.

Anyway, covid restrictions continue but that has not affected the birds (as far as I know) nor has it really hampered my efforts to observe them, although the period when travel from the house was limited to 1kilometre posed a bit of a handicap.

Looking back, the main highlights have been the black winged kites which graced the Tardoire valley for several weeks, an Iberian grey shrike near La Rochette, several woodchat shrikes, autumn flocks of little bustards near Tusson and stone curlews near Saint Angeau, crested tit in the Braconne Forest, black storks in the Tardoire and Charente valleys, booted eagle and an almost certain distant Griffin vulture.

And now some belated photos starting with woodlarks, a species which was delightfully plentiful this year.

A Stone curlew, one of a flock of more than 20

A red kite posing on the plains

Little bustards

Iberian grey shrike

Saturday, 2 May 2020

May Day .....and Rain

May Day 2020 may well go down as one of the most miserable that Charente has experienced as along with the lock down and cancellation of all festivities we also had a very cold and wet day.
But that’s the bad news, the good is that the birds don’t seem to be much troubled by such things except perhaps those who are trying to fledge and feed their young.

I came across one such when I risked a brief gap in the showers to visit the nearby plains. It was a skylark which appeared on the track in front of me and proceeded to run ahead with its right wing hanging down. Concerned, I tried to keep up with its pace while thinking I might have to rescue it. It took me a good three minutes and then the bird dying off to realise that it had been feigning the injury to lead me away from its nest.

Before I returned home I once again saw the blue headed wagtails which also seem to be nesting nearby and presumably the same whitethroats, corn buntings and linnets which I saw on the rape crop     a couple of days back. Some of the latter seem to be paired up but there is also a flock of about 45 of them which hang around together. The most unexpected birds of my short trip, though, were a pair of rock sparrows which were feeding on the ground close to eolien number 7.

Other news is that my wait for a hoopoe sighting ended yesterday and I also had the pleasure of watching several swifts screaming through Saint Angeau, while last night I listened to the rather more melodious sound of a nightingale in my garden.

A wagtail on the rape

A grey partridge makes a change from the usual red-legged

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Wheatears at Last

As I’m sure I’ve said in several previous posts, the arrival of wheatears always confirms (for me at least) that Spring has definitely arrived. This is most likely a hangover from my years on the Isle of Wight when the sight of these elegant birds pertly standing on the short turf of the downs was a much anticipated sight.
They don’t turn up in the same numbers her (and, rather strangely, do so later than 400 miles further north) but I was pleased to see a single male on the nearby plains on Saturday and then another one the following day. Also up there were several blue-headed wagtails, a couple of whinchats, a pair of cisticolas, a grey partridge and a black kite.
Around the garden the song of the golden oriole has now joined that of the cuckoo, the turtle dove and the nightingale....but the resident blackbird’s song is still the most beautiful.

Friday, 24 April 2020

More Migration

Birds are not exactly piling in but I’ve come across several new arrivals in the last couple of days. These include turtle doves which I heard  purring yesterday and today, a golden oriole in my garden, several whitethroat near the wind turbines and a pair of whinchats perched high on the flowering rape in the same area. While I was watching the latter a quail began to call from the wheat behind me.
House martins have probably been around for a while but I didn’t see my first one until this morning when I went to Saint Angeau for bread. They nest at several locations in that village.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Nightingales et al

Trying to get an idea of what’s happening in the bird world during the one hour that’s allowed for exercise outside the house is a bit like the ornithological version of speed dating...a quick look at what’s interesting and then move on. (I’ve never done speed dating so I can’t be sure about this).

Anyway, over the last couple of days I’ve ventured out and made some discoveries: I’ve heard several nightingales singing and also the chatter of a melodious warbler. I’m still on the lookout for my first wheatears of 2020 but in a likely habitat today I came across a pair of my first blue headed wagtails of this spring and close by was a squatting stone curlew.

A red kite was circling above the nearby wind turbines as I set out and while watching it I was alerted to the presence of a pair of hen harriers behind me by the surprising loud calls that the male was making as he did a tumbling courtship flight. This species is usually very silent....unlike the two tawny owls which I could hear from my house tonight.

In all, I managed to clock up nearly thirty species today showing that some birding is possible even during lockdown as long as you move fast enough.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Tree Pipits and Corn Bunting

With the lockdown restricting our scope for travelling around looking for birds, we have to rely more on birds coming to us. Yesterday, three tree pipits obligingly turned up in a tree outside my bedroom window, one of them seemed to be the child of the others as he kept opening his bill to be fed. This species is a summer migrant and this family obviously arrived early and have already had their first
The corn bunting is a common enough species on farmland throughout the summer but today is the first time I can recall having one singing in the garden..... perhaps he’d become tired of no one listening to his efforts elsewhere.

I cut my lawn today but despite its new fresh look, no hoopoe has yet come to grace it this spring.

I’ve been curious about the occupant of a nest which sits in one of the many recesses in the outbuilding’s sone wall. I have seen no bird approach it during the last week or so so I decided to investigate. As soon as I touched it, a loud buzzing and vibrating started up so I quickly withdrew especially when the appearance of several small bumble bees indicated that they had taken up residence. I’ll leave them to get on with their pollinating.

Some Charente folk are obviously finding ways to get further about than me as there are reports this week of ring ouzel, grasshopper warbler, spotted crake and pied flycatchers in the department. I’ll keep an eye out in my garden for the last of these, I’ve not much chance of the first three.