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!