Sunday, 20 May 2012

Moeze / Oleron reserve naturelle trip (Part 1)

My old mate Mark from the UK popped across to visit last week and we had originally thought of heading down to the Camargue but decided against it because of the travelling time ... France is such a big country and too much time stuck in a car is never good! We decided instead to head out to the Atlantic coast and ended up spending 3 days on the Moeze / Oleron reserve naturelle and the surrounding coastline.

Although we had persistent Northerly winds the weather was kind throughout with blue skies and plenty of warmth and sunshine. Lots of good birds with a total count of 108 species for the 3 days (list at the end) and of course plenty of good photographic opportunities.

The reserve itself is a designated wetland / saltmarsh area situated some 30km south of La Rochelle and is split between a mainland segment on the West coast and the East coast of Isle De Oleron. We stuck with the mainland part around the ancient fortified commune of Hiers Brouage - worth a look if you're ever down this way ( )

If we're talking rarities then I guess the single Alpine Swift picked out amongst many passage Common Swifts would be your 'twitcher's' pick but the reserve is packed full of good birds such as Marsh and Montague's Harriers, Short toed Eagle, Hobby, White Stork, Purple Heron as well as many wading birds and passerines (small birds) and we had some cracking views of all.

Ok, bit of a photo montage but I know most folk just come on here to look at the pics!

First up are a selection of White Stork pics. Nesting platforms are commonly erected all over Europe to attract these harbingers of good fortune but it was good to see so many nesting in their natural habitat in trees. Anyway, here's my selection ....

Like those? I was very happy with the way these turned out, especially the courtship behaviour and twig bringing shots.

Sticking with the bigger birds here's a few raptor shots for you.
Marsh Harrier (oldish female)

Marsh Harrier - same bird as above

Montague's Harrier (Male)

Short Toed Eagle
Short Toed Eagle and the Moon!
Short Toed Eagle - same bird as above
Kestrel (Male)

Peregrine Falcon

Ok now I know this doesn't look like a bird of prey pic at first glance but for those of you with eagle eyes (excuse the pun) take a look at the nesting box and you'll see a Kestrel and for those of you who like me that need reading glasses for just about everything, below is a close up and hey presto he's caught some kind of rodent, think its a mole!

Kestrel with prey (mole?)

Here's the last of my bird of prey pictures from Moeze, a bit fuzzy but this is a Common Buzzard being mobbed by a Kestrel

Rounding off part 1 of this photo montage of our Moeze trip with the rest of the bigger birds, here's selection of some of the wetland species, most of these were taken near the information hut. Most of these birds with perhaps the exception of the Spoonbills will be familiar with British birders.
There were plenty of wading birds about and here's a nice shot of Ruff in flight and if you look closely you might be able to spot a single Redshank in the frame ...
Here's the Spoonbills and yes their bills really are like spoons!

Lots of Shelduck about ... here's just the one

Rarely do Black Winged Stilts make it across the channel but it has to be said they are the ubiquitous wading bird on any saltmarsh / estuarine habitat throughout mainland Europe and often taken for granted. I've always found them very photogenic though so here's a couple of this dainty long legged wader. Nice comparison of light conditions light here with the soft tones of the bird in flight (shot in the evening sun) contrasted with the much harsher midday sun shot in the second pic.

Little Ringed Plover's are total experts in the art of disguise and are often unseen as they stand stock still blending in with the background. I was already on to this one as I was walking across a wet field on our last evening but true to form when I got too close 2 other, previously hidden birds flew off from the same spot! The camouflage is obvious in this shot.

Ok, as promised, here's a list of species seen over the 3 days for all the birding nuts that like to see such things and I'll post part 2 within the next few days featuring the smaller birdies and non bird pics.
  1. Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
  1. Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
  1. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
  1. Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
  1. Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
  1. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
  1. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  1. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  1. Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
  1. Eurasian White Stork [sp] (Ciconia ciconia)
  1. Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia
  1. Cattle Egret [sp] (Bubulcus ibis)
  1. Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
  1. Purple Heron [sp] (Ardea purpurea)
  1. Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
  1. Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  1. Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
  1. Merlin [sp] (Falco columbarius)
  1. Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
  1. Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
  1. Black Kite [sp] (Milvus migrans)
  1. Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
  1. Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
  1. Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
  1. Eurasian Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
  1. Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
  1. Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
  1. Black-winged Stilt [sp] (Himantopus himantopus)
  1. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
  1. Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
  1. Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
  1. Kentish Plover [sp] (Charadrius alexandrinus)
  1. Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
  1. Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
  1. Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
  1. Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
  1. Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  1. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
  1. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  1. Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
  1. Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
  1. Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
  1. Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
  1. Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
  1. Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
  1. Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
  1. Whiskered Tern [sp] (Chlidonias hybrida)
  1. Woodpigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
  1. European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
  1. Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
  1. Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
  1. Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
  1. Alpine Swift [sp] (Tachymarptis melba)
  1. Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
  1. Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
  1. Common Hoopoe [sp] (Upupa epops)
  1. Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
  1. Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
  1. Red-backed Shrike [sp] (Lanius collurio)
  1. Eurasian Golden Oriole [sp] (Oriolus oriolus)
  1. Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
  1. Common Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
  1. Eurasian Jackdaw [sp] (Corvus monedula)
  1. Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
  1. Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
  1. Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
  1. Blue Tit [sp] (Parus caeruleus)
  1. Collared Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
  1. Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
  1. Northern House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
  1. Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
  1. Crested Lark [sp] (Galerida cristata)
  1. Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
  1. Zitting Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola juncidis)
  1. Cetti's Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
  1. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
  1. Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
  1. Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)
  1. Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
  1. Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
  1. Western Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli)
  1. Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
  1. Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
  1. Firecrest [sp] (Regulus ignicapilla)
  1. Winter Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
  1. Short-toed Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia brachydactyla)
  1. European Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
  1. Eurasian Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
  1. Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
  1. European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
  1. Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
  1. Black Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus ochruros)
  1. Common Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola torquatus)
  1. Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
  1. Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
  1. Pied Flycatcher [sp] (Ficedula hypoleuca)
  1. House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
  1. Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
  1. Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
  1. White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
  1. Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
  1. Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
  1. European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
  1. European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
  1. Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
  1. Corn Bunting [sp] (Emberiza calandra)
  1. Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
  1. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

And just to prove that I do take photographs of other things apart from birds here's a good Hare I managed to get some good evening shots of.

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