Thursday, 16 February 2012

Birds at Last

The temperature reached the dizzy heights of 10 degrees today and we ventured out.  We visited the Gruissan area in brilliant sunshine but a fierce northerly wind.  As we expected there were very few Greater Flamingos about.  Less than 20 all day when we would have normally come across a few hundred at this time of the year.  Those we did find were looking weak and were very approachable.

Adult Greater Flamingo fighting to stay upright just a metre from the road

A tame juvenile Greater Flamingo managing to feed
 We began in earnest at Mandirac where there were lots of Little Egrets and 3 Great White Egrets sheltering from the wind.  Twelve Avocets look uneasy huddled out in open water and a lone Spoonbill was fast asleep on a small island.  Three Marsh Harriers quartered the marsh repeatedly flushing large groups of Teal.


We then checked out Le Petit Tournabelle where a ringtail Hen Harrier crossed the road and 3 Water Pipits fed on floating vegetation.  As we made our way towards the Roc 5 White Storks headed north.  We looked at our favourite wet meadow complex but they were completely dried out and in need of rain.  A Sparrowhawk hurtled past and was spectacularly intercepted by a Merlin and they flew off south.  Another Spoonbill was found in a reed filled ditch but this time busily feeding.

One of two Slender-billed Gulls feeding with Black-headed Gulls
 We headed down to the saltpans at Gruissan where a few more very tame Greater Flamingos were trying to feed.  Right on the edge of the open water 2 superb Slender-billed Gulls were busy feeding with some Black-headed Gulls.

Black Kite

Heading home we stopped to watch our first 2 Black Kites of the year battling north against the wind.

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