The Bank Holiday weekend started with an additional day as I’d booked my place on the Steve Ashton French Photography trip with guaranteed sunshine for Friday. I picked Alan up from Margate at 3.45am and joined Steve at his house then on the way to the tunnel we collected Tim Gutsell and Steve Ray. Exiting the tunnel on the French side the skies were grey and overcast and hopes of a nice day looked unpromising however, as we arrived in the area of the Parc du Marquenterre at the Baie de somme, the clouds started rolling back to reveal a glorious sun filled day. A little drive around the outskirts before we entered the Parc where there were several Whimbrel in the surrounding fields plus plenty of Yellowhammers and Whitethroats. After parking up, too early to enter, we wandered the car park in hope of catching up with Crested Tit and were fortunate enough to see three different birds. Constantly on the move or hidden behind foliage made for a difficult subject to photograph.
Inside the Parc we took in all the hides and pools that were there even taking the circuit twice just to make sure we covered everything. The only species we missed out on were Black-winged Stilt, as there were meant to be two pairs showing signs of breeding. There were plenty of Avocets but for other waders it was fairly poor with only 1 Common Sandpiper, a couple of Redshanks and a flighty Little-ringed Plover to add to the list There seemed to be plenty of Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers here and one or two Cetti’s Warblers were also noted.
|Steve Ray (back) Tim Gursel, Steve Ashton and Alan Ashdown The Crew...|
|One of the resident Whooper Swans|
There seemed to be a lot of Mediterranean Gulls in the Parc but we could only locate 3 pairs in the Gull colony. We had excellent views of Black-necked Grebes seeing 5 birds out five breeding pairs with one bird coming close to the hide we were watching from. We also saw a Ruddy Shelduck from one hide, and although fairly close, was into the sun and made for a difficult photo subject.
The best part of the afternoon was spent around the pools at the start of the walk where we spent a fair bit of time trying to capture White Storks and Spoonbills as they passed overhead collecting nesting material, also the resident Common Crane performed well for us and a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron was spotted deep in a bush over a pool. On the way back to the tunnel a male Hen Harrier was quartering the fields alongside the motorway bring to an end a fantastic day in great company with some excellent banter and even a couple of beers. A total of 75 species were noted which, considering it was a photo trip and not a birding trip, was a good count.
|Black-crowned Night Heron|