Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Farting Ducks

I dropped off Bronwen at Beziers Airport and then waited for the plane to arrive which would deliver to me Stephen Moss for a few days of birding.  Whilst waiting I checked the end of the runway and soon located a male Little Bustard patrolling a rough grassy area.  Good now I had to hope it stayed for Stephen.  I returned to the Airport as the Ryanair flight approached and parked up by the runway.  A Stone Curlew called and a Buzzard quartered the area.

Soon the terminal disgorged its passengers and there was Stephen. After a brief greeting we immediately set off and after a little while the male Little Bustard did his stuff strutting around and convulsing as he uttered his strange rasping call.  A great moment for Stephen because this was a LIFER for him and an equally great moment for me.  Personally there is no greater pleasure than finding somebody a new bird.

We moved off to another area of poor agriculture - a communal area of vineyards and herb rich grassland.  Immediately we found Great Spotted Cuckoos raucously patrolling the bushier areas and irritating local Magpies their host species.  A couple of Tawny Pipits showed well by a track but thereafter we were treated to a Little Bustard spectacular.  Some males called from long grass whilst others flew like wildfowl in pairs their wings whistling and the males with quivering wings and dangling feet.  Truly amazing display.

The flying birds really did look like wildfowl and their calls like the distant passing of wind.  No wonder they are often referred to in France as "Farting Ducks".

Returning home we saw a magnificent male Montagu's Harrier en route and a Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle and a Sparrowhawk as we drank a welcome glass of wine.

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