Tuesday, 29 May 2012

France Day 9 & 10: Relaxed (Non) Birding

The last two days have been really relaxing (apart from reading about Western Orphean Warbler in Hartlepool and Roller at Spurn, both would be UK ticks).

Today we've just done a local walk and spent the day lounging about the garden, which had its rewards.  However yesterday we took a trip about 70 miles away to visit two RHS Partner Gardens: Firstly Jardins N.-D. d'Orsan and secondly Jardins de Drulon, but before all of that I checked out another local forest: Bois de Paillet to see what was on offer. Lots of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Golden Oriole, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Marsh Tit and Cuckoo and all the regular fare but nothing too great.

Back to the gardens: Both gardens were very different, the first was part of an old priory with very smart, formal gardens and some very impressive hay meadows (great for butterflies), the second garden was much more 'wild' and was full of wildlife (birds, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies) and some 'interesting' "modern art". Anyone who knows me well will know how much I love "modern art"... but the planting was generally good (though it needed weeding and the grass cutting!).  Both were a little over-priced to get in I thought, more than the actual RHS gardens themselves! Though RHS members would get in free. An enjoyable day out anyhow.

 Jardins N.-D. d'Orsan

Jardins de Drulon

Jardins de Drulon - photos don't really do it justice

I'd left my scope at home for the day but still got incredible views of 3 Honey Buzzards that were flying low over the car park at Drulon. Really great views and my best so far, there was also tonnes of Nightingale in the second garden, with Black Redstarts in both too. Was great day for butterflies, Black-veined White was pretty cool, with 3 species of Blue too.

 A very bright (and big) Blue sp. Anyone any ideas? (Phone-binned)

Black-veined White. Very impressive beast, a lot larger than I was expecting! (Phone-binned)

Late afternoon I visited the closest pair of Red-backed Shrikes to our Gite and got a bonus couple of Hoopoe (see post below or click here for pictures). Again the Scops Owl was calling, and again it eluded me! Also of note was the flock of c.40 Black-headed Gulls that flew over in a thermal with 4 Mediterranean Gulls in with them.

This morning/whole day has been very lazy with just a couple of short walks around the Gite area, focussing really on butterflies more than anything, though while having a cup of Yorkshire Tea in the garden I noticed a Firecrest with nest material, I followed it around and it led me to its nest under construction. I then spent a couple of hours watching the pair build their nest which was really interesting (way too difficult to take pics on my phone and I could only manage the picture below). When a Spotted Flycatcher landed on the branch next to the nest the male went crazy and started jumping about with his crest all raised! The best reward for standing nice and still for so long though was the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that flew in and landed on the tree right next to me. I'm not sure who was more surprised, too flustered to get a picture! Also had a pair of Golden Oriole mating in the trees where I saw the male chasing the Jay about this evening and a smart male Cirl Bunting busily feeding up his nest.

Male Cirl Bunting feeding up his nest (Phone-scoped) 

Male Cirl Bunting feeding up his nest (Phone-scoped)

Firecrest about to go in to nest below twig it's on (Phone-scoped)

There was again a few raptors around with 3 Honey Buzzard, 3 Black Kite, Hobby, Kestrel and tonnes of Buzzard all noted going over, also a distant possible Red Kite but was unfortunately scope-less at this point!

Finally Jenny made me put some pictures on of me birding, just incase anyone is worried I'm not getting enough birding in!

Me getting in 5 minutes birding today...

Me getting in 5 minutes birding today...

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