Victor emailed with a list of communes to visit. This is the annual count of Little Bustards and Stone Curlews before they set off south for a warmer winter.
Quite large ‘rassemblements’ of Stone Curlews (Oedicnemes criard) are common but it wasn’t until the last commune and almost the last potential parcel that i spotted some likely shapes.
It was worth waiting for – with the help of the ‘longue-vue’ i counted 73 altogether in this field just on the edge of Luché. 28 degrees C and happy homeward.
The next day it was the turn of the Bustards (Outarde canépetiere) and again it was the last chance saloon. More or less on my way home i parked to scan the last large open field. One Bustard was standing there, but out came the telescope and i soon counted 9 in this parcel just east of Saint Soline. 27 degrees C and happy again to get the job done.
Fleeting glimpse of an adult fox this am on Lottie’s early morning walk. Lottie was off lead and soon dived into the scrubby woodland in our valley. Ten seconds later the fox slunk across the lane in the opposite direction!
Later we took her for a leisurely stroll along La Somptueuse (see photo).
There are two parcels of poplars where we whistle at this time of year to attract the attention of any Orioles. No response this am in the first area but sometime later Helga’s attuned ear heard our first Oriole of the year. Soon we had a conversation going, flutey whistle followed by immediate response every time – good fun.
I picked up John at 8am.
Our objective is to try to find a Curlew couple in the meadow parcels we have previously observed them feeding and nesting.
First stop, Lezay market for super crepe and café eaten alfresco. Onward.
On arrival we are greeted by the rich and fluid phrases of a Nightingale but after 30 minutes of walking and scanning and listening no Curlew calling.
Around the other side of the parcel we do better, no Curlew, but a medium size bird in flight, black wings with white bars – Oedicneme criard (Stone Curlew). It lands and we spend some time watching a pair of Stone Curlews in the same ploughed (and sown) field where they nested 2 years ago.
An adult male Montague Harrier floats low across adjoining fields.
We try a new route, through a patch of woodland and we are into perfect meadow habitat. Then in the air again two strong fliers in tandem, circling away and then back towards us – we are quick to recognise two adult male Outardes canepetieres (Little Bustards). We watch one land and i set up the longvue. John notices a group of young Roe deer nearby. We spend time watching the territorial behaviour of the two bustards (one can be seen at the left of the second image below) and snapping the deer gambolling.
Later back home while I am checking the images before download I realise we missed the Curlew that was there in front of us. Can you spot it at the left hand edge?
John selects the next route. Whinchats, Corn Buntings and Wheatears in evidence.
And then a raptor in the air. Black Kite? No. The head is pale/white and into a glide with distinctive V – yes, Marsh Harrier. I think adult Female but I am not sure.
John navigates us back home before midday – a successful morning accomplished.
i was looking for an opportunity to use the telephoto near home.
An owl suddenly flew out from the scrubby vegetation and circled overhead – an opportunity taken.
This is Hibou moyen-duc (Long eared owl) – probably the most common owl in our locality.
A friend and i signed up for ‘Initiation a la photographie naturaliste’. We arrived at IFFCAM at 10am. This is a world class wildlife photography and filmmaking centre set in 70 ha of woodland bordering the R.Vonne.
After an introduction we rambled along woodland paths tasked with getting more familiar with manual camera settings. I needed my other manual at times.
After a picnic lunch we recced the reedy pond and one ‘grenouille verte’ sat still for me
the experts took us through Adobe Lightroom (aka Photo Shop) in the workroom after the lunch break.
John is fluent but i struggled to follow even the context so he helped me through the main points on our journey home.
We both enjoyed the day and are looking forward to using our new confidence.
We visited our friends, Geoff and Imogen in their new home, Chez Boulard near Luchapt in the Vienne.
I spotted a shrike on a wire fence behind the house; we all had good views through binoculars. This was not our ‘normal’ Red Backed Shrike it was a Woodchat Shrike – and a first for me!
The next evening Helga heard our Little Owl calling and i managed to spot it flying onto a perch beneath the eaves of our neighbour Patrick. Below is the best photo i could manage
The ‘prairie’ with the nest site was mown sometime last week. I spoke with Gerard and he said it belonged to another farmer who came to mow with his big machine.
I have been twice but there is no sign of adults or young. The most likely conclusion is that the poussins perished and the adults have set off for the coast which is where they will spend the rest of the time until early spring.
I visited the other farmer but he was not in.
This is the first time i have followed a pair of birds in this way and i feel that i have learnt a great deal.
I took the photo today
Apres le fauchage