Saturday, 4 August 2012

French Twitch

I cannot remember ever going to see a rare bird that somebody else has found in France.  When my good friend Serge Nicolle French birder and superb Wildlife Artist left a message to say he had seen a Black-shouldered Kite at the marsh at Capestang one of my regular haunts yesterday I was so tempted.  This species which is very common in places like India and Africa was originally restricted to Spain and Portugal in Europe.  In recent decades it has increased its range and up to 50 pairs have colonised that part of coastal France just south of Bordeaux. These birds are much rarer elsewhere and this would be my first for France.

Black-shouldered Kite - photographed in India
So this afternoon at 4.30pm I drove down to the marsh on the east side and started looking.  Nothing at first so I strolled a little way down the path.  Almost immediately this superb bird was hunting the hay meadow to my right quartering with a bouncy buoyant flight.  Before I could raise my camera the bird flew over my head and headed off high to the south-west into the sun.  After that I lost the bird for half an hour.  Eventually I found it again way across the marsh sitting at the top of a dead tree.  The bird was preening and being mobbed by a Magpie and observed by a Roller all in the same tree.  I hoped the bird might return but I left it in peace.  Also on this trip I noted a Southern Grey Shrike, c40 Bee-eaters and a Short-toed Eagle.  Another splendid experience. By the way unlike UK I was the only person on the twitch.

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