Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brilliant Year End!

Dee and I spent the last day of the year touring around the many 'etangs' (man-made lakes) of the La Brenne region of France, a place we've become very familiar with over recent years.

More tests with my Canon SX50 - You would not believe how far off this Stonechat was!
Taking the usual back roads on route our first birds of note were Merlin and a very confusing almost cream coloured Common Buzzard, strangely enough, not the first we've encountered around this particular region. On arrival at La Brenne our first stop was the ChΓ©rine Nature Reserve and after parking up we made our way down to the hide which overlooks Etang Du Gabriere. The walk down in pleasant sunshine produced a pair of Stonechat and the usual Redwing and Fieldfare, feeding on the remaining berry crops.

Cormorant - More from the Canon SX50 HS at distance!
The lake itself, usually a cacophony of noise during the breeding season was much quieter and held a large number of Cormorant and a typical selection of winter wildfowl, the highlights being: Pintail, Pochard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall. A Peregrine made a brief appearance with an attack on the Lapwing flock, but fortunately for the flock left empty handed.

Great White Egret - Full 50X zoom and a mile away, impressive!
La Brenne is also a great place to see Great White Egret and at least two were mingled in with several Little Egret. The walk back to the car produced our first ♀Hen Harrier of the day, plus our second Merlin and a surprise, when a Woodlark came down in the brush just in front of us in full song!

Pochard - Canon SX50
With the wildlife visitor centre closed we continued our tour dropping in at various lakes, including Blizon and Foucault lakes, where there are a couple of hides and here the highlight was a second ♀Hen Harrier, followed shortly after by a ♀Marsh Harrier. A couple of other private lakes we managed to view from the road were very lucrative, the first holding at least sixteen Great White Egret and the second a dozen Green Sandpiper. The only other wader of the day, apart from Lapwing were a couple of Black-tailed Godwit, a great end to the year!

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