I left home just after 6pm to meet up old friends Ron, John and Andy and new friend Janet. Because of a number of Little Bittern sightings at the marsh at Capestang we decided to sit on the edge of the village of Montels and watch for evening feeding activity. As I left our hill a good omen in the shape of a dark phase Booted Eagle appeared overhead.
Etang de Capestang from Montels
We all met up and started watching about 7pm. There was plenty to see and we watched 2 Whiskered and a single Gull-billed Tern before beginning to find plenty of Night Herons moving to and fro. A few Purple Herons, Grey Herons and Little Egrets were also noted as was a Green and Wood Sandpiper.
Ron was the first to call Little Bittern and everybody but me got on the bird and another a few minutes later. How very frustrating. We added 8 White Storks and a single Black Stork flying on the far side of the marsh.
I then felt a need for a bush so wandered off. On my return I was aghast at the news. I had just two more sightings of male Little Bitterns. We waited and I called Stone Curlew flying down to the marsh and as we were watching it Ron called another Little Bittern and this time I thankfully picked it up.
Little Bittern - photo by David Hosking
My confidence and reputation was restored and we estimated that we had seen at least 3 different male Little Bitterns suggesting at least three nests. Three more Stone Curlews came into the marsh to drink and then the most amazing record of the night. A male Cuckoo began calling regularly from the marsh. We all agreed on what it was but none of us had heard a male Cuckoo calling at this time of the year. Indeed many adult Cuckoos will already back in Africa. We packed up and left in a full moon and there was still time for me to see a Little Owl by the roadside near Olonzac and a male Nightjar on the track close to my house.