Tuesday, September 16, 2014

France - Ile de Re

Overview: The island of Ile de Re provides an LPO reserve, wader roosts, sea-watching and winter seabirds at the Phare des Baleines lighthouse on the extreme western tip of the island. The lighthouse stands on a low rocky headland offering some elevation for sea-watching, also nice rock pools with Waders, Terns, Gulls and Egrets on the ebbing tide. Divers, Grebes, Purple Sandpipers and Mediterranean Gulls are the specialities here; in October even Yellow-browed Warbler are occasionally found. Nearby there’s a reliable wader roost at Loix, and a Sacred Ibis roost with up to 140 birds in summer.

Ile de Re - Aerial view of the eastern end & causeway
This was our first visit to the site and with only a few days in France it wasn't possible to coincide this with a decent tide. Plus we didn't give the Island the justice it deserves, only managing to visit the Lilleau des Niges LPO reserve and the lighthouse, which as you can imagine was extremely busy on a sunny, hot Sunday. The Island is accessible by road over a causeway, be aware that it took us 2 hours to even get back to the causeway on the way home, traffic merges into one lane across it from the two main routes and causes a major pinch point, particularly on a Sunday evening!

Yellow-legged Gull
Almost immediately on arrival it was obvious that this was a real wader habitat. Even stopping off at the small towns overlooking the sea large numbers of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Redshank could be found. At least a half dozen Mediterranean Gulls and numerous Yellow-legged Gulls were noted, off shore a small party of Common Scoter.

Black-tailed Godwit - Over 3000 roost on the Island
When we reached Lilleau des Niges the temperature was in the high 20's but it wasn't long before our first raptors appeared, with Common Buzzard numerous, Peregrine, Kestrel and a single Marsh Harrier.

With the tide out most of the waders were offshore but we managed Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper. Our first Wheatear of this visit along with Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit and Cetti's Warbler. Not many terns to be found with only a couple of Sandwich Terns during our stay. This is also a great place to see Bluethroat, which sadly leave the area in early September so we dipped on that one! Other birds of note included: Spoonbill, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, White Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Linnet, StonechatKingfisher and Black-tailed Godwit, of which over 3000 can be seen here in autumn.

Black Redstart - Finally a better image!
Finally, on Monday morning back at the house another search of the gardens and village found a whole family of Black Redstart, five in total and I managed a better shot of what may be the daddy on his favourite chimney perch. No sign on this visit of the resident Red Squirrels but Firecrest, Marsh Tit, Pied Flycatcher, Corn Bunting and Blackcap. Next stop Spain!!

**Sub-note - RSPB Burton Mere today with Pectoral Sandpiper, Cattle Egret and Red-necked Phalarope!