Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Bumper Day!

I began the day by taking my Land Rover down to the garage at Azillinet.  It was going to be 2 hours getting repaired so I took a walk west towards the Olonzac - Cesseras road through a small vineyard road.  I eventually crossed the main road and went about 400 metres beyond the Cesseras washing plant.  I only had my bins and no camera but the birding was great.  Firstly I found 3 pairs of Turtle Doves my first of the year and as usual there were loads of Corn Buntings a few Nightingales and a Melodious Warbler singing.

Turtle Dove

Presssing on I stopped for a moment to watch a Tawny Pipit carrying out its spectacular song flight when I heard a familiar sound.  I could hear an Ortolan Bunting singing and found it perched on a vineyard post.  Within the next half an hour I heard a minimum of 4 Ortolan Buntings.  This was a surprise as I did not know this species was here.  I had driven these roads often but never stopped long enough to hear them. It shows the benefits of walking. The other good news was  I discovered a Southern Grey Shrike in its regular spot.  I added another Tawny Pipit, Wheatear, Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike and Buzzard before going back for the car.

Ortolan Bunting

After lunch we needed to replenish our wine stocks so first we drove up to St.Jean de Minervois and noticed a Short-toed Eagle over the village.  We then moved down through Bize Minervois to Cabezac where we noted a Honey Buzzard and a few Bee-eaters.  We took our purchases home and then I decided to go out again as I had a feeling there might be some good birds to find.  Driving through Cesseras I passed the local Roller territory and to my astonishment there was the pair already in and sitting on wires.  I took the opportunity to grab some shots.

The Rollers have returned to Cesseras

These bird give me hours of pleasure watching their antics
I moved on the the Pepieux end of the vineyard roads and added another Tawny Pipit and 2 Woodchat Shrikes.  Next stop was Lac de Jouarres which usually flatters to deceive.  I was about to leave when I noticed 4 Great White Egrets preening in the reeds and then a small raft of darkish birds caught my eye.  I reached for the telescope and was thrilled to find 7 Black-necked Grebes in full breeding plumage.

Black-necked Grebe
Leaving the lake I checked the sewerage ponds at Homps and was pleased to find 5 Black-winged Stilts.  Then I turned off to check out the Bee-eater nesting site east of Olonzac.  There were about 30 of these beautiful birds in the area but they did not seem to be taking much notice of the nest holes.  Again they posed beautifully.  There was also a Great Spotted Cuckoo and a Turtle Dove in attendance.

Bee-eater perched near the colony
Bee-eater tossing up an insect before swallowing it
A perfect day ended with our local Short-toed Eagles indulging in a talon grappling display over our garden as we enjoyed supper on our front terrace.

1 comment:

  1. Great account of your bird sightings! What a super day! And it is so much fun to read about villages that I have been to, Bize Minervois, Cabezac, Azzilanet. Love it all thanks.