Thursday, 24 May 2012

France Day 5: Black Woodpecker and more...

Absolute scorcher of a day today, though again it started all misty with poor visibility. All the usual birds were seen/heard in the morning with Tree Pipit being the only new bird recorded (had them at other locations, but not around the gite thus far). I think it's likely that several local pairs of Blackcap have hatched young as several females were very conspicuous compared to previous days and the males seem to be spending less time singing and more time flying about with food (mainly caterpillars).

We decided to check out our local Chateau today, Chateau-Guillaume. Quite an impressive building and we had a very nice picnic and walk around the countryside nearby, really peaceful.  As luck would have it, as soon as we'd parked up the car and set off on our walk the very loud call of Black Woodpecker was heard as a pair flew in and landed in a tall tree adjacent to where we were stood! As this was not a birding trip I'd not got my scope so only managed the following 'record shot' on my phone, through the bins. What an awesome bird! Its been a few years since I last had one so was nice to reacquaint. Also in this area a Common Sandpiper was feeding along a stream and a couple of Honey Buzzard were overhead. Thought I heard a Marsh Tit but couldn't locate it so will have to wait for that one. As this place is literally only 10 minutes away I'll hopefully go back with my scope to try and get some pictures of the Woodys.

Black Woodpecker (phone-binned)

After our picnic we had a random drive and walk around the south of the Brenne area (to the south of Romefort). By this time it was getting really hot. Did see a smart male Hen Harrier, male Marsh Harrier, several Skylark, Wood Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Hoopoe, 5 Red-backed Shrikes (4 male, 1 female) and at least 10 Golden Oriole.

By mid-afternoon we were back at the Gite to enjoy the sun in the garden. There was a few raptors around including 1 Honey Buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and 2 Hobby. Golden Oriole was singing in the tree next to the Gite and Short-toed Treecreeper and my first Firecrest of the trip were also present in the garden too.

Jenny in 'our' garden 

'Our' garden 

'Our' garden - the old mill

An evening walk (still in belting sun) resulted in 4 Red-backed Shrike (2 pairs), 2 Hoopoe, 2/3 Cuckoo and Turtle Doves and several Melodious Warblers.

Fairly distant Cuckoo (phone-scoped) 

Fairly distant male Red-backed Shrike (phone-scoped)

During the course of the day we also had a wide range of other animals including Pine Marten (would have taken higher billing if not for the Woodpecker as this was a lifer), Musk Rat, Hedgehog, Hare, Red Squirrel. Many butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were on the wing too. Managed a picture of this Fritillary, which I think is Heath Fritillary, but would be pleased to hear if anyone can confirm or correct! Also saw a pretty impressive lizard which I presume is Western Green Lizard?

Presumed Western Green Lizard 

Presumed Heath Fritillary (Phone-scoped)

Think its meant to be another belter of a day tomorrow so I think we're going to try and do a longish local walk before it gets too hot then sit in the sun in the garden and wait for the Honeys to show themselves..

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