Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Etangs to the south

We set off this morning aiming to go as far south as Cap Leucate and then work our way back to Narbonne.

Approaching Olonzac a single Honey Buzzard was heading north battling a stiff north easterly breeze.

We saw nothing else of note until we reached Cap Leucate.  Heading of down into the wanderful valley of sweet smelling thyme we searched the bushes for migrants.  Orphean Warbler and Spectacled Warbler were singing but only the latter was seen and that a very brief view in flight.  Moving on we were so thrilled to find a pair of Black-eared Wheatears the male co-operatively posing for a photograph.  Apart from lots of Swallows moving north there was little sign of real migration.  Heading back to the car we found a pair of the elusive Thekla Larks so similar to Crested but we noted their distinct call and the grey underwing as they flew.

We turned north to Franqui and there were only four gulls on the lagoon.  Two Yellow-legged and 2 Slender-billed Gulls.  The latter always a good find.  We moved on and enjoyed our picnic by the lagoons and beach between La Palme and Port Nouvelle.  Another Slender-billed Gull was the only diversion.  Later on the beach there were 15 Sanderling and 10 Kentish Plovers.  Over a hundred Greater Flamingos were close to Port Nouvelle and later heading along the lagoon road to Bages we counted another 150.

Also on the Bages lagoons there were at least 12 pairs of Black-winged Stilts, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Kentish Plovers and a few Blue-headed Wagtails.

Back home whilst watering some newly planted trees in the garden 4 Red-rumped Swallows fed above pine trees.  A few minutes later another Honey Buzzard lumbered over.

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