Thursday, 3 May 2012

Coastal Loop

Short-toed Eagle hovering

Another promising day weather wise had us doing our coastal loop starting at Etang de Vendres, Apart from a lot of activity at the large heron colony not much else to report.  We drove on crossing the meadows at Fleury where we were delighted to have great views of a Roller and a Woodchat Shrike.  We checked the reedbed at Lespignan and could immediately hear a Bittern booming.  A Short-toed Eagle hovered overhead before being seen off by a Kestrel. We also drove up the small vineyard road adjacent to the marsh where we counted sixty Cattle Egrets all in breeding plumage.  Further on we stopped to listen and heard three singing Ortolan Buntings and a Golden Oriole.

Cattle Egret

We headed back to Pissevache and took a look round before having lunch.  Two Little Terns stood out amongst a group of Black-headed Gulls.  Two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew over calling and 2 sub-adults were noted sitting amid 100 Sandwich Terns out on the small islands.  We took a walk to the back of the sewerage lagoons where at least 12 pairs of Black-winged Stilts seemed to be nesting with fewer Avocets.  Three Common Sandpipers called incessantly and 6 Greater Flamingos and 3 Gadwall flew over.  Getting back to the car for lunch a Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Grey Plovers flew by and 9 Slender-billed Gulls kept us amused us feeding nearby.

Common Sandpiper

We moved south to Gruissan and really began by driving through the vineyards behind the coastal road.  Two male Woodchat Shrikes stood out sitting together in one bush and later a beautiful male Black-eared Wheatear perched on the edge of a bush.  We continued to the area around Le Roc but it was exceptionally quiet probably due to a bi-plane we had seen spraying something over the area.  The small marsh by the museum had a couple of White Storks feeding with a few Black-winged Stilts.  The storks are nesting nearby.

Male Black-eared Wheatear

The Mandirac area was also quiet with a Purple Heron probably the highlight.  Three feral Pink-backed Pelican soared over with the same number of White Storks which might also originate from the African Wildlife Park at Sigean.  I hope they look after their big cats better.

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