Monday, 21 May 2012

France Day 2: Sorting out the Local Area

Woke up at 6am just as it was starting to get light, well actually I was woken up at 6am to be precise, by a male Redstart (phone-scoped photo below) and male Black Redstart that were singing full blast just outside our bedroom window! I spent a couple of hours just loitering around the gite while I waited for Jenny to surface, there was lots singing but it was difficult viewing due to all the vegetation. I got Golden Oriole, Short-toed Treecreeper, Garden Warbler, Nuthatch and lots of other common birds (Blackcaps everywhere). It was nice watching the Black Redstart pair feed up at their nest, there was also Blue Tit and Grey Wagtail breeding in the garden. The real highlight of the pre-breakfast session was 4 Red Squirrels that were really showy around the garden.

Male Common Redstart (Phone-scoped)

As this was our first day in the local area we needed to stock up on provisions so we headed to the nearest sizeable town Montmorillon (15/20 minute drive) in order to do some shopping - something I loathe doing in England - mainly because it involves going into Selby. Today was a little different though and en-route there and back I was rewarded with great views of Hoopoe, male Woodchat Shrike, Wryneck and Quail, as well as several other commoner birds. We'd pulled over to look at a building on a distant hillside and out popped a Wryneck in the hedge right next to the car! Got to love that bit of luck!!

After a lunch of local breads, meats and cheeses we decided to do a walk around the local area taking us to the nearby small village of Thollet, this was going well for the first hour, but during the second hour the rain came, and 8 hours later it's still pouring down! The forecast for the rest of the week looks great - just not today! Its surprising, at least to me having not been over here (France) other than on a school trip (15/20 years ago) just how quiet the place is, we walked for ages along roads, tracks, through hamlets with out seeing a single person. Its great! You can just stand in the countryside and just hear birds (and the odd cow/sheep)! No planes, trains, auto-mobiles, no people... perfect!

Avian highlights of our walk included female Montagu's Harrier sat on a fence post, 2 Turtle Dove showing nicely on the road, vocal Hoopoe with crest raised, equally vocal Cuckoo, Woodlark, smashing views of a Nightingale, several showy male Stonechat, more vocal Golden Orioles, Cirl Bunting and a rather fine-looking Melodious Warbler, along with several trip birds such as Whitethroat, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush etc.

Hopefully the rain will stop overnight and the sun will be out tomorrow!

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