Tuesday, 22 May 2012

France Day 3: Rewarding Town and Countryside Walks

Woken again by the male Redstart - no need for alarm clock at least! Got out to find it had stopped raining but the river at the bottom of the garden had shot up by a couple of feet (and is still rising now!). It was actually quite cold and overcast, but luckily this was not to last too long and the rest of the day was really nice.

A poke around the garden of the gite resulted in much of the same as yesterday highlights included a male Wood Warbler, Golden Oriole and at least 4 Nightingale that blasted their song out from the undergrowth, occasionally showing too. Several family parties of Stonechat were vocal in the hedges and a Woodlark was sat on a wire with food for nest/young hidden out of sight.

We decided to go for a drive back into Montmorillon to have a look at the towns buildings and get some fresh pastries. Both were very impressive. We then headed north slightly to Saint Savin, where we had a look at the really impressive church with some quite incredible art work.  Both towns were brimming with Black Redstart!

Montmorillon (phone pic)

Saint Savin (phone pic)

I got the Sat Nav lady to take us back cross country and was rewarded with close up views of a smashing 'grey ghost' male Hen Harrier. Although I was on a main road there was no traffic in sight so I pulled up and enjoyed watching it hunt a wheat field. An irrigation pond held Mallard and Reed Warbler, male Cirl Bunting and several Nightingale.

Back at the gite we had another impressive local style lunch, the gite is now starting to smell of cheese! In order to walk off some of our food we headed on a walk along the river valley, probably about 8 km out, then back. Although I didn't stop at everything there was still quite a bit about, highlights included Black Kite, 20+ Nightingale, 5 Red-backed Shrikes (3 male, 2 female), 5 Melodious Warblers, 2 Short-toed Treecreepers, dozens of Black Redstart, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Cirl Bunting as well as lots more common stuff, also my first local Robins, Long-tailed Tit and Pheasants.

 One of the typical fields along the wooded river valley (phone pic)

Male Red-backed Shrike (phone-binned) - one of 4 males (and 2 females) seen today

Spent some time relaxing in the garden in the afternoon watching the Red Squirrels playing, and the Common Redstart and Black Redstart feeding up their nests. Two Short-toed Treecreepers gave incredibly close-up views too.

Male Black Redstart (Phone-scoped). Thought it had a ring for a moment, but it's just poo!

An evening circuit of the farm track above the gite was surprisingly productive, with male Cirl Bunting, Skylark, Woodlark, Hobby, 2 Golden Oriole, 2 Melodious Warbler, 1 Hawfinch, 1 male Red-backed Shrike and 1 Black Kite in amongst a wide range of common birds.

All in all another relaxing, enjoyable day. Looking forward to tomorrow, the weather is set to get warmer too, which will be nice.

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