Monday, 7 May 2012

Visiting Friends

Today we made a belated visit to friends Paul & Jan in Pouzolles just north of Beziers.  On arrival Paul and I explored his local patch.  First we checked out some agricultural washing lagoons.  These plastic lined square and fenced off pools do not look great places for birds but as Paul promised there 4 pairs of Black-winged Stilts with the same number of nests all containing eggs.  Three Little Ringed Plovers were also present but no sign of a nest.  We checked out two similar lagoons which by the smell contained sewerage.  Here there were over 20 Shelducks loafing around with a Common Sandpiper nearby.  We stood on a bridge over a small river and I achieved my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year as a Golden Oriole sang overhead.

Black-winged Stilt incubating on a nest situated in a very grotty plastic lined lagoon.
Driving down a small lane a bird caught our attention hawking for insects.  When it settled we could identify a fine female Red-backed Shrike.  We passed a few Rock Sparrows on overhead wires and visited a wonderful scrub covered hill with tremendous views.  We also had time to photograph a pair of Red-legged Partridges of which one had a strange circular ring on its left leg.  Maybe it is a released bird for shooting?

Red-legged Partridges - note the ring on the left leg of the right hand bird.
After lunch we visited a reservoir where there is normally a good population of Red-rumped Swallows. No sign!  What has happened to our birds here?  There are more in the UK than we can find here.  One Crag Martin was present at the dam but the only other birds of note here were a couple of Woodchat Shrikes. Heading back to Pouzolles we had good views of a Booted Eagle before Paul's car ground to a halt.  Luckily a good Samaritan picked us up and delivered us to Paul and Jan's house so they could summon the breakdown service.

Male Woodchat Shrike - one of 2 seen this afternoon

On our way home we searched Minerve again for Red-rumped Swallows but no luck again.  We did find a super male Red-backed Shrike.

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