Monday, September 28, 2015

France Sunday/Monday

On Sunday Dee and I took a drive out for a day at the sea-side. Having done a little research we decided that an area known as station de lagunage near Rochfort was well worth a visit on route. The Lagoon Resort, set in the suburban marshes, is to purify waste water from the town of Rochefort and renown to have some excellent birding. Of course like many French birding areas and despite our research the centre was closed, even though the opening times clearly displayed on the gate stated otherwise.

A real treat - One of several jet powered model aircraft flying around!
Notwithstanding Dee and I intrepid as ever decided to take a tour of the peripheral. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable few hours and birds of note included three Whiskered Terns resting on one of the buoys 'ringtail' Hen Harrier, Marsh HarrierCattle Egret, Common Sandpiper, (3) Wheatear, Ruff and Great White Egret. As a bonus and being an aviation enthusiast too the local model club were flying some amazing jet powered aircraft from the nearby aerodrome so I was well pleased.

White Wagtail - Many around the lagoons and coastline.
From here we drove out to the coast and found a delightful little sea-side town called Port-des-Barques and while enjoying a stroll and a coffee in a glorious 24C spotted many White Wagtail and a flock of over thirty Avocet which flew by. Taking the coastal route from Barques we stopped at several vantage points spotting a large flock of roosting Turnstone, Dunlin and the occasional Yellow-legged Gull. Swallows and the odd House Martin were moving through in small numbers but not a Swift to be seen.

Many Juvenile Dunlin along the coast!
Further around the coast in the late afternoon we came across the nature centre for Natural Reserve Moëze-Oléron, which WAS open! There are four interpretation trails from here two of which take you down towards the shoreline. However, with time against us we decided on taking a short walk which takes you through scrub and grassland.

Redstart at the Moëze-Oléron centre
Many mist nets were located here along several rides and Stonechats were abundant along with Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. At one stage (7) Spoonbill were seen in the distance heading along the coastline. Returning to the centre, now closed, a Common Redstart, plus many birds in the feeding area which included Zitting Cisticola, Reed BuntingWillow Warbler and a single Wood Warbler.

With practically no light pollution here an amazing blood red moon!
After an early rise for the Luna Eclipse, 4am here Dee and I spent our last morning before flying home locally at La Pinail. This is one of our favourite reserves and is situated only 10 miles from Dee's parents house. The result of millstone quarrying has given way to a mosaic of 3,000 ponds which are surrounded by moor and heathland and a great place for Dartford Warbler, three of which were seen briefly today!

Pipistrelle Bat roosting under the terrace!
An albeit brief visit to France but an enjoyable one, despite fewer species seen than usual. Other highlights included watching the bats, mostly Pipistrelle, flying around the house in the evenings and even finding some roosting spots. I won't dwell too much on the 'Chasse' with gunshots and dogs heard on all of our days out!!