Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Shorebirds on the Salt Pans

After visiting the market in Olonzac this morning and with a good forecast we set off for the coast and had lunch in Gruissan.  Afterwards we drove out to the beach and headed south.  We found a group of Kentish Plovers with 3 Ringed Plovers and 5 Little Stints before we stopped to walk out over the salt pans.

Gruissan Salt Pans with pink bloom

We were delighted to see many Greater Flamingos were present with quite a few young birds.  Three Sandwich Terns flew over and a Black Tern hawked for insects.  We were soon looking at small groups of shorebirds most of which were Sanderlings and Dunlin..

Closer inspection revealed quite a few more Little Stints, Ringed Plovers and a superb Curlew Sandpiper.

Curlew Sandpiper
The best was still to come.  Looking once more through the flocks I was so pleased to find a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope bobbing around like a cork on the water and spinning around like a top as it fed feverishly.

Red-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope.
A great decision to visit the Salt Pans.  We moved on to the wet meadows at Le Petit Tournabelle which were still good but I imagine levels will drop soon as the adjacent rice fields are harvested.  We counted 10 Great White Egrets, the usual squadrons of Cattle and Little Egrets and a single Glossy Ibis.  Scanning the fields we also noted 6 Wood Sandpipers, 3 Ruff and 2 Lapwings,

Glossy Ibis

Arriving home just before sunset there was still time for excitement.  Beryl called me just in time for me to see a Hobby chasing after a group of migrating Swallows which had been moving all day.  A great finish to a good day.

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