Monday, April 10, 2017

Last leg up through France, La Brenne revisited ...Osprey, Black Stork, Camberwell Beauties & a cracking Grey Ghost!




All a bit arse about face I know but my still damaged laptop means I can't access my pics from earlier on in the trip so here's the very last leg (March 31st - April 3rd) .. up through the middle of France towards Dieppe and a short but glorious few days back in La Brenne. (La Brenne info here)

Some of the best weather since leaving Spain and I was basking in 25c whilst I lounged around alongside a splendid 'etang' in a part of La Brenne I hadn't visited before (not difficult to do in this vast area of lakes and wetland). The area around Vendouvres & La Caillaudierre is generally referred to as the Foret de Lancosme. I found it to be a very quiet neck of the woods, very few people about, especially given that it was a w/e, but so rich in wildlife and although I had some difficulty in establishing which lakes were which in this watery landscape it didn't matter, it was all good. I mean when you wake up somewhere like this ...

Etang de Grand Brun, La Brenne, 03/04/17
 ... and the first thing you see when you poke your head out the window in the misty early morning sunshine is this ...
 
Great Crested Grebe, Etang de Grand Brun, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Osprey diving in for breakfast, la Brenne, 03/04/17
... and then the next thing you know there's an Osprey over your head ... its time to grab the camera and hope that, that Osprey is looking for some breakfast! I got lucky this time, nothing razor sharp but some great action shots ...

It must have been a biggish fish because after entering the water there was an obvious struggle and the Osprey was totally submerged at one point and stayed in the water looking 'preoccupied' for at least a minute before finally getting a hold on and launching free of the water.

Sadly he, or she, emerged without a fish. I think it was just too big to enable take off!






















Osprey struggling with a whopper, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Osprey struggling with a whopper, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Still struggling!

Getting there!

Almost there but its a slippery fish

Take off but I see no fish!

What a way to start the day .. took all of the above from out of the side window and have to say the van has been great for that this trip.

Flushed male Garganey,  La Brenne, 03/04/17
Moments later, kitted up and scanning across an equally good looking lake on the other side of the road I flushed a couple of Garganey and then spotted some more on the lake. I've been seeing these little migrant ducks all the way up from Spain and given their relative scarcity it was tempting to think that some of these individuals might be the self same as those I saw in eastern Spain.

Like little flying chocolates, that's the random thought that keeps coming to mind and I was pleased to get some decent flight shots of these dapper ducks.













Male Garganey in flight, La Brenne, 03/04/17


Male Garganey in flight, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Male Garganey in flight, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Garganey distribution map
Our Garganey's spend the winter months south of the equator in Africa and although a scarce breeder in the UK they have a broad range right across Eurasia.













Male Garganey, La Brenne, 03/04/17


Shy and easily missed, especially the females, early April is the time when one might turn up on your local wetland..
Female Garganey, La Brenne, 03/04/17


Bittern booming site, La Brenne
The same morning I added yet another bird to my trip list  - heard a Bittern booming several times from this nearby reedbed, and then around midday yet another with a lucky Black Stork looming in the sky when  I just happened to turn around and look up.

Black Stork over La Brenne, 03/04/17
 It didn't hang around and definitely drifting north .. heading for Germany?

Black Stork over La Brenne, 03/04/17
 As well as the above highlights there were Cuckoos aplenty, 4 Yellow Wagtails, a single Sedge Warbler (got to 200 species with this one), a Booted Eagle, scores of Great Crested & Little Grebes, 5 Black Necked Grebes and although waders were in short supply a count of 16 Green Sandpipers on on a dried up pond was a good record. All great birds and a great morning but 'blogwise' maybe a bit bird heavy and my eye wasn't focussed solely on feathers and wings, this lizard for example held my attention for several minutes, not sure if its anything other than a distinctively marked big Wall Lizard but  mighty impressive close up..
Lizard sp, La Brenne, 03/04/17
European Pond Turtle, La Brenne, 02/04/17
The previous day I managed a half decent European Pond Turtle crossing the track ahead of me and in such sunshine and warmth it was no surprise to see many butterflies on the wing with Orange Tips, Brimstones, Red Admirals & Speckled Woods commonplace and a new butterfly for me at least 3  Camberwell Beauties around the tracks alongside the Etang de Bellebouche.




Orange Tip, La Brenne, 02/04/17

Brimstone, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Camberwell Beauty, Etange de Bellebouche, 03/04/17

Camberwell Beauty, Etange de Bellebouche, 03/04/17
Not as vast an array of wild flowers on show this far north but field full of  Early Purple Orchids I stumbled across was an exception ..

Early Purple Orchid, La Brenne, 03/04/17
Other highlights from Le Brenne included my first and long awaited Whitethroats, a couple of Grasshopper Warblers, Bonellis Warbler, Pintail and still the odd Wigeon. From a photographic point of view I'm always pleased to get a good Sparrowhawk shot and this big female was a willing performer ..



Female Sparrowhawk, La Brenne, 02/04/17

Female Sparrowhawk, La Brenne, 02/04/17
Nice male Pintail, La Brenne, 03/04/17

Singing Bonellie Warbler, La Brenne, 03/04/17


Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17
I didn't want to leave the relaxing warmth of Le Brenne but my ferry back to the UK was booked and I had to push north. A stop off for the night somewhere near Maintenon, about 60 kilometres SW of Paris brought an improbable 2 new species in the shape of a Long Eared Owl across fields and Grey Partridge in the same spot the next morning, and best of all a pair of Hen Harriers floating around in the local fields the next morning as I was about to make my dash for Dieppe. Lucky for me I had time to spare because this beauty came right over the van! Such a perfect ending to my trip ....photographing this most iconic birds of prey with 206 bird species already in the bag. It felt like a job well done! Here's the results plus a few other random  shots from my return trip up through France.
Female Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17


Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17


Female Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17
Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17

Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17


Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17

Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17

Male Hen Harrier, nr Maintenon, 04/04/17
Miscellaneous pics from my northward drive through France



Male Marsh Harrier, La Brenne, 01/04/17


 
 


Cowslips, La Macherie, 31/03/17

Cowslips, La Macherie, 31/03/17

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (record shot), La Macherie, 31/03/17










 
 
 

 
 


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