Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back To The Routine!

95% Moon setting To The West!
A Tawny Owl calling quite close to the mooring and the local Mallards feeding off the boat hull (very annoying tap, tap, tap!) persuaded me to get up a little earlier than I was anticipating this morning. When I looked out of the windows I'm glad I did with the almost full moon setting to the west. To the east the winter constellation of Orion shining brightly and a very bright Venus and Jupiter also showing well.

On route to Brandon a Weasel ran across in front of me as I came through the back roads at Stockton and a Barn Owl was quartering the fields just prior to Birdingbury. I arrived around a half hour before sunrise to a chilly Brandon, only 5C showing on the the cars temperature gauge.

It was nice to be back at Brandon on a crisp and clear early morning, my favourite time and I took my usual route which takes me past the wind pump, Sheepfield and New Hare Covert. The usual hoards of Gulls were passing overhead, mostly Black-headed and probably from the Draycote roost. Not a lot to report prior to emerging from New Hare Covert, the best a calling Nuthatch but as I rounded the golf course corner a flock of around 20 or so small birds flew into a nearby tree. By the time I'd sorted them I'd recorded 4 Lesser Redpoll and at least 15 Siskin before they were on their way, winter is coming!

Chiffchaff (lots of Hawthorn to investigate!)
It looks as though Blackberries haven't done too well this year but the reverse is true of the Hawthorn. Most of the bushes at Brandon are teeming with fruit and it was endless searching of these which produced 3 Chiffchaff, one in full song, a pair of Blackcap and a number of small Tit flocks. These contained, along with around 10 Long-tailed Tit, a couple of Coal Tit and a lone Goldcrest. Despite being hopeful of Redwing or Feildfare none were recorded. The reeds at Newlands gave up a late Common Whitethroat and along with at least a half dozen Reed Bunting, 3 Water Rail and 3 calling Cetti's Warbler. Before checking the pools at Wright Hide 4 Meadow Pipit, 25 Wigeon and a lone Skylark overhead, plus a Green Sandpiper was also heard.

East Marsh Pool had the usual hoards of Greylag and Canada, plus the now regular Egyptian and Pink-footed Goose were also present. My first Pochard of the autumn along with Lapwing (300), Gadwall (41), Teal (44), Snipe (13), Kingfisher (2) and the New Zealand Scaup (escapee) were the other highlights.

Hirundine numbers are now dwindling but a decent number of Swallows, plus House Martin (3) were recorded. A few Butterflies and Dragonflies on the wing and these included Green-veined White, Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral, Common Darter and Migrant Hawker.

Notable Records for the full visit:

Blackcap (3), Cettis Warbler (3 heard), Chiffchaff (3), Coal Tit (2), Egyptian Goose (1), Gadwall (41), GS Woodpecker (3), Green Sandpiper (1 heard), Green Woodpecker (2), House Martin (3 over), Kingfisher (2), Lapwing (310), Lesser Redpoll (6), Meadow Pipit (4 over), Nuthatch (2), Pied Wagtail (3), Pink-footed Goose (1), Reed Bunting (7), Shoveler (7), Siskin (17), Skylark (2 over), Snipe (13), Sparrowhawk (2), Swallow (33 over), Teal (44), Tufted Duck (12), Water Rail (4), Common Whitethroat (1)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

French Trip Summary

Wheatear In Beautiful Autumnal Colours
The best way to see France is definitely by car, major cities apart there is far less traffic than in most European countries and you can literally drive for hours around the back roads without seeing a soul. We've never come birding in September before but I'm glad we did. Yes a good few species have now moved further south such as Terns and many Warblers but the countryside was just awash with so many young birds such as Buzzard, Wheatear and Pied Flycatcher.

Major Reserve's Visited

Réserve naturelle du Pinail -The result of millstone quarrying has given way to a mosaic of 3,000 ponds which are surrounded by moor and heathland rich in rare fauna and flora. Amongst the many bird species you can find here such as Montague, Hen Harrier and Dartford Warbler are 48 species of Dragonflies. - MAP LOCATION

Wonderful La Brenne
Parc naturel régional de la Brenne - Covering some 10,000 hectares and with over 1200 ‘etangs’, man-made lakes. Bird species number over 280, and at least 98 butterfly species and 60+ odonata species have been recorded here. Amongst the birds, 150+ Common Cranes winter here, Whiskered Terns [c1000 pairs] and Black-necked Grebes [150+ pairs] nest, as do Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Night Heron, Black-winged Stilt, a few pairs of Short-toed Eagle, and 30+ nesting pairs of Bee-eater; unfortunately Little Bustards are a thing of the past here. MAP LOCATION

Firecrests & Crested Tit Abound!
Reserve Naturelle Courant D'Huchet - This amazing site connects Lake Leon with the Atlantic Ocean, it's a site rich in history for flora and fauna and is around 618 hectares in size containing some fantastic outcrops of heath, marsh and sand dunes. It is the only river of Biscay who's mouth was not stabilised by diking. Species of note during our visit: Firecrest, Crested Tit and Wheatear were abundant! MAP LOCATION

Réserve Naturelle du Marais d'Orx -Located some 30 miles south of Leon not far from the Spanish border. This is a protected natural area mainly consisting of lakes, ponds, marshlands, wet meadows and surrounded by a network of canals. One of France's few major nesting sites for Spoonbill. During our visit Waders were prolific see my earlier report HERE for details. MAP LOCATION

20 Hides At This Brilliant Reserve!
Parc Ornithologique du Teich - The Bassin d'Arcachon is ornithologically one of the most important areas of France and the Parc Ornithologique du Teich, a 120ha reserve within this area, is one of the best birding localities in western France with 20 hides to choose. The reserve consists of large expanses of shallow, brackish water many of which are managed specifically for birds. Common Crane winter here and regulars include Bluethroat and Night Heron. During our visit we encountered over 100 Spoonbill with excellent wader counts which included Temmick's Stint. Check the tides, naturally high-tide is a great time to visit. MAP LOCATION

'Gite' La Ristou
Finally, staying at a 'Gite' (French Holiday Cottage). We stayed just outside Leon and our accommodation was rustic but with all amenities, the cottage was set over 2kms from any road and within a forest, we absolutely loved it! However, the Gîtes de France system isn't for everyone. People who like to be guided along every step of the journey, like to call room service, like the familiarity of chain hotels, like an urban setting, and want to be surrounded by fellow tourists will not necessarily appreciate the allure of the Gîtes de France organisation. Those who like to experience French culture close-up and personal, and who like to live more like a local, will adore this type of stay. Those who enjoy seeing rural life will also enjoy an escape to a Gites de France accommodation, we definitely recommend it to all you nature lovers.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Parc Ornithologique Du Teich

Parc Ornithologique Du Teich
The Bassin d'Arcachon is ornithologically one of the most important areas of France and the Parc Ornithologique du Teich, a 120ha reserve within this area, is one of the best birding localities in western France. The reserve consists of large expanses of shallow, brackish water many of which are managed specifically for birds.

Little Egret
Open to the public since 1972, the Teich Bird Reserve is around a 30 minute drive from Bordeaux and is the property of the municipality of Teich, which, with technical assistance from the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne, manages the reserve. The lands on which the reserve has been created were reclaimed from the sea during the 18th century in order to create a form of fish farming known locally as ‘fish reservoirs’ ("réservoirs à poissons"). For me this is a birders paradise where you can spend literally the whole day visiting the 20 bird hides.

Black-tailed Godwit
Dee and I decided to take in the reserve on our way back north from our 'Gite' at Leon and arrived mid morning just as the temperature hit a scorching 30C. Our timing wasn't perfect as the tide was on the turn and heading out but there were still many waders on site. Worth passing on that the Parc charges 7.60euro each for entry, worth every cent but if you show your RSPB membership cards the reserve are happy to offer a 5euro discount

Some of the hides and indeed pathways offer a chance to get real close to the birds and thus photographic opportunities arise around every corner. The first several hides produced good numbers of Greenshank, Little Egret and the amazing sight of over 100 Spoonbills feeding on the far side of the lagoon.

Temmick's Stint
Once again Dee and I spent hours touring this amazing place, which I have to say is one of the best reserves I've visited during my birding breaks in France. Common Crane winter here but our visit was a little too early. We bombed on a few species on site today which included Bluethroat and Night Heron but ended up with a species count of 72 which included of note:

White Wagtail (3), Wheatear (2), Tree Sparrow (1), Willow Warbler (8), Chiffchaff (2), House Martin (15), Swallow (50+), Teal (75), Pintail (3), Shoveler (32), Great-crested Grebe (3), Grey Heron (15), Little Egret (11), Great Egret (4), White Stork (4), Spoonbill (104), Sparrowhawk (1), Hobby (2), Water Rail (3), Little-ringed Plover (2), Ringed Plover (33), Grey Plover (17), Black Winged Stilt (2), Red Knot (50+), Little Stint (2), Temmick's Stint (1), Curlew Sandpiper (2), Dunlin (300+), Snipe (4), Black-tailed Godwit (300+), Bar-tailed Godwit (48), Whimbrel (6), Curlew (15), Spotted Redshank (22), Common Redshank (8), Greenshank (17), Common Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (6)

A big thank you to Eric one of the reserves warden's who pointed us in the right direction, in particular the Temmick's!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marais D'Orx

LS Woodpecker (female)
Breakfast al fresco at the ‘Gite’ had the first birds of the day with a female Lesser-spotted Woodpecker showing well. Black Redstart, Short-toad Treecreeper and Green Woodpecker were also seen before heading off for the day.

The weather today was in complete contrast to yesterday with a cloudless sky and a gorgeous sunrise. The plan was to visit a reserve that Dee had researched called Marais D’Orx located some 30 miles south of Leon not far from the Spanish border.

This is a protected natural area mainly consisting of lakes, ponds, marshlands, wet meadows and surrounded by a network of canals. Over the years the site has been restored after extensive drainage for agricultural purposes in the past including being drained under Napoleon 3rds mandate. The lake provides a superb 3km walk that has a number of areas to stop and explore, a spotting scope is essential. There is a good selection of trees to both explore and take shelter; today’s weather was a gorgeous 24C with little cloud cover so each shaded area was a blessing!

1 of 28 Spoonbills Today!
The lake now acts as an important stop-over and wintering site for numerous species of waterbirds and one of the few major nesting sites for Spoonbill in France. The site is also important for a large number of insects, amphibian, reptile, fish and mammal species, including threatened species such as European Eel, and the European Mink.

We arrived around midday and began with a look at the nature centre, which I'm glad to say required little translation as a lot of the information boards were actually in English. As we approached 4 Spoonbill flew over, 2 Common Buzzard were circling, the now customary Wheatear was in the car park and a Black Redstart was on the centre roof.

Spotted Redshank
The walk begins just after you cross the road bridge and takes you south with the lake to your left and canal to the right. A first look at the lake gives you the immediate feeling that this place is a little special with waterfowl and waders a plenty. The first waders of note were: Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Black-winged Stilt, on the shoreline several Grey Wagtails were observed and a Kingfisher was heard flying down the canal channel. Out towards the centre at least 15 Spoonbill could be seen feeding and waterfowl including various numbers of Great-crested Grebe, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, plus a lone Shelduck.

Lots of Butterflies on the wing today and these included of note:

Large White (3), Swallowtail (1), Brown Argus (2), Common Blue (2), Purple-shot Copper (3), Map (11), Scarce Swallowtail (2), Small Heath (3), Clouded Yellow (4), Wall (2), Brimstone (2), Bath White (1), Southern Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown were numerous.

After the 3km walk around the lake which took Dee and I over 4 hours to complete an excellent selection of waders, passerines and waterfowl and a final species count of 70 which included of note:

Little Egret (17), Great Egret (3), Grey Heron (11), Black Tern (2), Greenshank (9),  Ringed Plover (50+), Little Ringed Plover (2), Dunlin (75+), Curlew Sandpiper (16), Red Knot (22), Wood Sandpiper (1), Black-winged Stilt (3), Little Stint (3), Green Sandpiper (3), Common Sandpiper (2), Spotted Redshank (8), Kentish Plover (2), Snipe (3), Avocet (6), Sanderling (10), Black-tailed Godwit (55), Bar-tailed Godwit (3), Osprey (1), Marsh Harrier (1), Chiffchaff (3), Iberian Chiffchaff (1 in full song), Willow Warbler (17), Pied Flycatcher (7), Spotted Flycatcher (3), Reed Warbler (2), Cetti's Warbler (2), Blackcap (5), White Wagtail (3), Kingfisher (3)

Also recorded a single Coypu, and a decent passage of Barn Swallow, House and Sand Martin. Away from the reserve in other areas visited numerous Stonechat, plus Kestrel and Meadow Pipit were also seen. Thanks to Dee for the record keeping on another top days birding!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 'Gite'

Gite Le Ristou
After the weekend at Dee's parents a 4 hour drive south yesterday to our next destination of Leon, here we've rented a 'Gite'(French Holiday cottage) for several days near the coastal town of Leon. The 'Gite' itself is set within a large woodland, very isolated and very rustic, it's also only 50 miles from the Spanish border so very southern France.

On arrival Monday evening it was quite obvious that this location would suit us perfectly, Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers drumming, Firecrests and Nuthatch calling and over dinner Tawny Owls a plenty.

Firecrest (record shot)
On Tuesday after breakfast we took a short drive to 'Etang' de Leon were a short stroll around the southern end in the light rain, the only part of the lake which has public access, started off the days birding list nicely with of note: Nuthatch (3), Short-toed Treecreeper (4), Cetti's Warbler (2), Spotted Flycatcher (2), White Wagtail (3), Wheatear (1), Willow Warbler (4), Whitethroat (1), Mistle Thrush (1), Pied Flycatcher (1) and Wood Lark (1). The only waterfowl of note were a few Great-crested Grebe.

Courant D'Houchet
Our next stop was Reserve Naturelle Courant D'Huchet: This connects Lake Leon with the Atlantic Ocean, it's a site rich in history for flora and fauna and is around 618 hectares in size. It is the only river of Biscay who's mouth was not stabilised by diking. We began our walk at Pichelebe and decided to take one of the woodland trails which runs alongside the river and out towards the sand dunes and Atlantic Ocean.

Literally minutes into our walk we hit upon a Long-tailed Tit flock containing around 14 birds but almost immediately Dee was on to a Firecrest! By the time we'd moved on some 10 minutes later the count had increased to: Long-tailed Tit (14), Firecrest (3), Crested Tit (2), in fact we stopped counting those species from this point as they were literally too numerous in numbers.

Southern White Admiral
Our walk continued for what seemed an eternity with some fantastic outcrops of heath, marsh and sand dunes, by this stage we'd also recorded a couple of Roe deer. Although the temperature was a comfortable 22C it remained quite muggy and the light rain continued intermittently throughout, notwithstanding there was still a number of Butterflies to be had. Southern Speckled Wood (7), Southern White admiral (4), Meadow Brown (17), Gatekeeper (7) and Wall (3) were the best of the bunch.

At one heath outcrop Dee and I took a short breather and here we came upon a good fall of Wheatear with at least 20 or so and I must say very obliging from a photographic point of view.

One Of Many Wheatears!
By the time we returned to the car some 4 hours later, having completed a major hike of around 10 miles, birds of note in addition to the above mentioned were: Little Egret (2), Black Redstart (5), Peregrine (1), Raven (1), Reed Warbler (3), Great Reed Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (2), Blackcap (4), Melodius Warbler (1) and Wood Warbler (1).

Finally, a walk along the beach and coffee at Moliets Plage produced numerous passage Barn Swallow's plus a number of Gannets offshore along with of note: Yellow Wagtail (4), Sandwich Tern (3), Mediterranean Gull (2) and Yellow-legged Gull (4).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

La Brenne (again)

La Brenne (View from a Hide)
No visit to France is worthwhile without a trip to the La Brenne region! Renown to be one of France's best kept secrets and only a half hour drive from Dee's parents house this is without doubt one of our favourite birding hotspots.

A patchwork of fishponds, heath and red sandstone outcrops La Brenne is an area of rich flora and fauna delicately preserved by its ‘National Park’ status. Known locally as 'The Land of a thousand Lakes' this is a rich tapestry of habitats including marshes, deciduous woods, dry heathland and farmland.

Berger's Clouded Yellow
With such a big area to explore we normally visit a selection of locations we've become familiar with, and in particular the Reserve Naturelle de Cherine. Our first destination at Etang Du Gabriere (Etang - meaning man-made lake) is a 10 minute walk from a small car park and almost immediately after parking a look across the heathland produced a number of Stonechat (4) and Corn Bunting (6). The walk down to the hide is a delight with many species of Dragonfly, Damselfly and Butterflies just waiting to be explored, 97 species of Butterfly have been recorded here! Being so late in the year we still managed an excellent selection which included of note: Camberwell Beauty (1), Grizzled Skipper (3), Common Blue (20+), Berger's Clouded Yellow (2), Scarce Swallowtail (2), Glanville Fritillary (2), Knapweed Fritillary (3) and Map (3). I still have a number of images yet to be collated which includes several Dragonfly.

Coypu, or in French  'Ragondin'
By the time we'd settled into the hide a decent record of Wheatear (8), plus Great-white Egret (2), Whinchat (1) and Common Buzzard (1). The lake itself was generally quiet but held an excellent number of Cattle Egret (27) as you can see from the image above, among which were a few heavily outnumbered Little Egret (3). The water level seemed high and thus the only wader noted was a single Snipe. During our stay Black-necked Grebe (1), Reed Warbler (1), Gadwall (4) and Great-crested Grebe (7) were the only other notable birds but a couple of Coypu, several European Pond Tortoise and numerous Common Green Frog were of interest.

Our next stop was the raised hide at Etang De La Gabriere which affords good views of the lake and surrounding reed bed. Before moving down to the hide Dee and I enjoyed a small picnic lunch under a large Oak, the temperature a now commendably 26C. The short walk to the hide produced a few more Butterflies which included Speckled Wood (3), Silver-washed Fritillary (1) and Wood White (2).

Wood White
Once again the lake itself was generally quiet with not a single Tern or Hirundine to be found. One of the highlights here was Dee's first sighting of Water Rail, when first an adult appeared followed a short time later by a youngster. Amazing considering Dee is a constant birding companion and has a list any birder would die for! Only other birds of note: Reed Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (1), Blackcap (1) and Purple Heron, when one was seen at distance.

At Etang des Essarts, where the main nature centre is located the walk down to our third hide of the day produced a few more Butterfly additions with Wall (1) and Short-tailed Blue (1). Our first decent wader count of the day with Black-tailed Godwit (15), plus a few other additions with Kingfisher (1), Pochard (3), Little Grebe (2) and White Wagtail (1). The highlight was a Marsh Harrier perched on some dead wood overlooking the lake.

Buzzard Record Shot!
Our final destination was the large Etang de la Mer Rouge and here we took a stroll around the wooded area adjacent to the lake. Just prior to arriving our first and only Honey Buzzard of the day, plus a real pale phase Common Buzzard which you could have easily mistaken for Rough-legged, having an almost white inner tail.   On the far side of the lake a fourth Great Egret of the day and circling towards the middle the unmistakable sight of Osprey high above. Our final bird of the visit was the one and only Tern of the day when a Common dived right in front of us as it made it's way through!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back To France

One of a Dozen Black Redstart
As a change from our usual routine Dee and I decided to travel to her parents house near Chavigny in France by car, taking the Eurotunnel and forgoing the usual Ryanair antics!

I must say that its been a while since I drove any great distance in Europe and by the time we reached our destination some 425 miles later I didn't feel too wiped out. In fact we took a slight detour to visit one of our favourite places, La Pinnail, a short distance from Dee's parents and a great place to see Chats. Indeed it wasn't long before we had both Whinchat and Stonechat in our sights, plus the addition to our growing list of Turtle Dove

France is a wonderful place to drive around and you can actually take in the scenery without fear of someone cutting you up or any sudden halts in the traffic. To this end and with Dee taking on some of the driving the birding list for the drive down yesterday made good reading. Good numbers of Common Buzzard and Kestrel along with Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier (ringtail), Black Kite and Peregrine would have kept any birder happy. After our eventual arrival and the usual excellent food and wine I even went to bed last night with the windows open listening to the local Tawny and Little Owls calling.

Pied Flycatcher (female)
This morning I took a stroll around the huge gardens, which at the moment are awash with various fruits and vegetables, some of which looked prehistoric in size. When we were here in the spring I'd noticed a pair of Black Redstart hanging around and it wasn't long before it was quite obvious to me that they had in fact stayed around to nest. An amazing count of 12 birds in various areas of the garden, some enjoying a good amount of the in-laws raspberries but surely more than just one brood!

I spent an hour or so photographing the birds, a little bit more of a challenge than I'd anticipated and also during this time managed, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Nuthatch and a couple of female Pied Flycatcher, who I also managed to snap after another challenging 10 minutes or so. Although I'm still studying a slightly distant photograph of a small warbler I may even have stumbled on a Western Bonelli's Warbler, but that remains only a possibility! A good few Butterflies are still around here in France and Large White, Dingy Skipper, Holly Blue, Wall and Clouded Yellow were all recorded.

Extracting the juice for tests!
This afternoon was a real treat for Dee and I as we'd been invited, along with her parents to a family friends vineyard. Here we were given a personal tour by Francois the owner and were given the opportunity to help test the sweetness of the grapes in preparation for next weeks harvest. After the vineyard a look at the 'chai' where the wine is fermented, a 15th century cellar first used by his great grandfather. Of course any good wine producer is very proud of their produce and we were naturally given the chance to taste last years wines! A few beers back at Francois beautiful house ended what I can only describe as one of my best ever French experiences. You can view the Eifel Tower and France's many other great sites anytime but something as personal as this is just priceless!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blogging Again!

Willow Warbler - Still Singing Today!
Well I'm happy to report that Narrowboat 'Quidditch' now has a new paint job and a completely refurbished shower room, and more importantly I'm back out in the wild birding and blogging once again.

It's been a little while since my last visit to Brandon Marsh and having met up with some of the guys at first light this morning it was apparent that things have been pretty quiet during my absence. From a purely selfish point of view it was good to know that I hadn't missed out on anything special of late.

I decided to have a major trawl of the whole reserve after my sabbatical and by the time I reached Big Hide for the first coffee of the day I'd managed my first Wheatear of the autumn, when Jim, Derek and I put one up as we passed Newlands Reed Bed just after the golf course. Nuthatch -  2 Blackcap - 2 Common Whitethroat - 2 Chiffchaff - 2 Willow Warbler - 7 Green Sandpiper - 1 Common Sandpiper - 3 Snipe - 1 Little Grebe - 2 Kingfisher and a lone Reed Warbler were also recorded. On the pool areas Teal and Shoveler numbers continue to grow and a good count of 17 Gadwall, who are now beginning to look very regal after their recent molt. Despite some excellent Geese numbers of late, which have contained both Pink-footed and Egyptian, the main flock failed to materialise this morning.

Hobby - Two On Site Today!
I split from other guys who were planning to do a spot of reserve work at Carlton Hide and made my way down towards the screen area where I managed a brief but excellent view of a late staying Sedge Warbler.. At the screen I managed the long staying Hobby, which was perched in it's usual spot in the dead tree and before I'd returned for another look at the main pool I was surprised but delighted to hear a Garden Warbler in full song near the Carlton Hide. Worth a mention too that both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were also in song today, must be the hormones!

The reserve is now beginning to take on a different look with the autumnal colours now starting to show through and the various berries now almost ripe. As is usual for the time of year there were several Tit flocks around to dissect. By the time I'd scrutinised each flock, helped by the now thinning foliage, I'd managed of note: 14 Long-tailed Tit - 1 Willow Tit - 3 Goldcrest - 6 Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff, so well worth the effort! There are still plenty of Swallows moving through along with the odd House Martin and while passing Farm Pool a second Hobby of the day had an unsuccessful attempt to take one for breakfast.

Despite the chilly wind there's still a good deal of warmth to the sun and although not prolific I managed a small count of Butterflies which included: 3 Red Admiral - 2 Meadow Brown - 3 Speckled Wood - 1 Comma and 2 Green-vein White. Plenty of Dragonflies on the wing too with excellent numbers of Southern Hawker, plus Broad-bodied Skimmer, Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown and Common Hawker and a single Ruddy Darter.

A nice return to the great outdoors and now it's all systems go for France on Thursday!