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 Chérine 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!