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Post Info TOPIC: France-Loire Valley


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RE: France-Loire Valley


Busy month in September at my sister's farm meant not as much birding as previous trips.

Not too much migration to report but I did add Squacco Heron to my french list. It was stood on a fence post by a field in Parc Balzac (Angers) so an easy spot.
Fittingly a bar/music venue built this year by the river (a wooden shack actually) is called Heron Carre (in English, Heron Square) as from this park I have seen Cormorants, Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets, Great Egrets, Grey Herons & a Night Heron. All credit to the LPO for the work they have done here, which includes attracting nesting Corncrakes.

On nearby Lac Du Maine Little Terns stayed until mid September. Dozens of Egrets & lots of gulls seen flying in to roost on a late evening visit later in the month.


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Checked a new site this week. Behuard Island, the only island on the Loire with a village . Famous for pilgrimages to Virgin Mary and there were lots of coaches full of children there checking out the church areas. The island is also known for it's fine wines & Corncrakes.

Obviously no sign of Corncrakes on a daytime trip but there were numerous Yellowhammers on the fields and a Kestrel hovering above.
I spent most of my time here checking sandbanks, something I do not find at my usual sites. Birds around these included :-
Cormorants, a Cattle Egret, a Little Egret, a few Little Ringed Plovers, Black-headed Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls,
Common Terns, Little Terns, a Whiskered Tern, White Wagtails, & Carrion Crows.
Lots of the larger gulls were immature. I just checked out the adults for identification to make life easy.
Numerous commoner species were around the village (Turtle Dove, House Martins, Swallows included). Also saw a Red Squirrel at the car park.

Earlier in the week I added Night Heron to this year's list, only the second one I have seen in France. It flew up the river from the centre of Angers before heading over to Lac Du Maine.

A live European Polecat is a first for me in France. After seeing numerous road kills I got the live one as we were having our usual tea-time beers outside the gite. We all saw it quite easily as it ran through the farmyard.

Flight back to Manchester tomorrow, and still waiting for a proper summer to arrive here.


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Rained throughout the tennis in Paris, a week of sunshine, and then back to rain when the football started. If we got rid of French sport would we get rid of the rain ?
Limited trips out, especially last week with thunderstorms every day.

Trip to Angers 7th June revealed a lot more Cattle Egrets than seen before. The river was very high meaning I could not get to Lac du Maine as the paths from the city were under water.
However, this worked in my favour as I had to stick to a 70% flooded Parc de Balzac on the other side of the road to Lac du Maine. I have previously only seen about half a dozen Cattle Egrets at the lake as they are hidden away in trees, but in one particular flooded picnic area at Balzac I counted at least 30 moving around with a few Little Egrets. I also saw a few others flying back and forth over the road.

10th June in Chambiers Forest gave me my first French Short-toed Eagle. I was watching a Purple Heron in the top of a tree at the opposite end of the smaller lake when this cracking bird flew across the lake between me and the heron. It flew around the lake before dropping down to the ground out of sight amongst the shrubbery near the heron. I decided to hang around for a while to see if it it would fly up again but had no luck. A report I found on the internet regarding French Short-toed Eagles says that birds have been returning to areas of The Loire region where they had disappeared from, their most northerly breeding areas.
On the same visit I had some unusual behaviour from a couple of Western Bonelli's Warblers. I have been hearing them high up in the very tall conifers, but this time a couple were low down in a small broad-leafed tree. They only called when a Wren in the ferns by the bottom of the tree called, and they seemed to be calling back to the Wren.

16th June at Cre NR. I finally got to see a Fan-tailed Warbler/Zitting Cisticola. I normally see Reed Warblers moving around the side of a boardwalk leading to a small pond. This time I had a good view of one of these very small beauties flying away before it dropped into the reedbed.

A good day around the farm yesterday.
Around lunchtime yesterday as me and my sister got to the farmyard entrance she put the brakes on and shreiked "what is that bird" as we nearly ran it over. My first Grey-headed Woodpecker of this trip.
Presumably it was feeding on ants in the road and was reluctant to move until we nearly hit it. It flew across the menage giving good clear views.
As usual in the evening I wandered outside at half time in the footy to listen to the farmyard birds instead of the waffling pundits. A Stone Curlew flew low over my head and then landed in the field with the horses. I watched it wandering around with the horses for about 10 minutes. The first time I have seen one on the ground inside the farm boundaries, although I have had them flying through very low. Also one of the very few I have seen that made no noise in flight when it flew in. Made up for that with the racket it made when flying off.



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We missed the floods in our area but Loire still very high from all the rain running down from elsewhere. Good idea to stick to forestry birding and on Friday morning a visit to Chambiers Forest paid off big time.
As usual I went into the forest in hope more than expectation, but as sometimes happens by keep checking a certain patch, the birds came to me without chasing around after them.
Marsh Tits near the chateau car park gave me a great start, but better was to follow within 10 minutes.

A calling Black Woodpecker was very close, and at last after after only hearing them in this forest a few times I actually got to see one. A male flew through the trees before landing on a tree trunk. After a few minutes it flew off before landing on a more distant tree. I got it in the bins again and was amazed to see it a couple of trees away from a female. Wait years for one and then two turn up at once !

After chatting to a horse rider friend of my sister's about Cuckoos being pronounced the same in French & English but spelt differently as we listened to a male I was treated to a female flying low towards me along the track by the lake. Not your normal female but the rufous version. Only my second ever sighting of a rufous one, the other being at least 20 years ago at Black Toft Sands. After a second low flight along the track towards me it flew up into the trees where it gave me a treat by giving out it's bubbling call.

After all this excitement in a little over half an hour a Purple Heron flying across the lake seemed like just another common resident.


Not much to report with other wildlife, especially with the insects. Just not warm enough with mostly overcast skies. I did have a couple of Painted Ladies passing through yesterday though.

Last night was better though with lighter winds. After a wander down the lane at dusk, Corncrakes calling from one side and Quail on the other, I put the walls lights on at the gite. Not many moths but a Cream-spot Tiger made up for the lack of them.
Not long before midnight I noticed what looked like a large earthworm on the patio. On closer inspection I could see a small tongue flicking around. A baby snake. Either Aesculapian or Grass Snake going off an internet search (once I ignored the baby snake threads leading to the Frank Zappa movie) this morning. The scales looked more like Aesculapian, but the yellow neck band shows on both species.


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Hi Chris, Great Spotted Woodpeckers did seem less frequent for the first couple of weeks but gradually I came across them in all the usual areas.

It did occur to me that the Common Redstarts by the village school were in an area that I have seen Black Redstarts on all my visits. I will be checking them out for breeding as I have only seen Common Redstarts on passage before and on checking my monthly previous records I found that I have not seen any in May before.

Good luck with your birding.
Cheers, David.


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Couple of questions, as I am spending some time 100 kms or more south of you- I come every year but for shorter periods. Do great spotted woodpeckers seem less frequent this year?  2:  do you come across redstarts and black redstarts in the same location?  Redstarts are usually common here in summer, but this year black redstarts seem more obvious.



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Some of the more interesting birds around other local areas visited in May.

River Loire through Durtal :-
Grey Wagtails seem to have had a god breeding season. Lots of youngsters.
Mediterranean Gulls, Comm Tern, Swifts, Sand Martins (presumably from the breeding colony in a sand quarry just outside the town), House Martins, Swallows, Black Redstart, Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, Serin, Cirl Bunting.

Chambiers Forest :-
Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Purple Heron, Mallards, Coots, Buzzard, Kestrel, numerous Cuckoos, Hoopoe, Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Tree Pipits, a couple of Nightingales seen in flight, Black Redstarts, the usual commoner warbler species + Wood Warblers, Goldcrests, Spotted Flycatchers, Crested Tits, Linnets, Cirl Buntings, & Yellowhammers.

Bazouges :-
Common Sandpiper on the river,
Redstarts by a junior school. Looked like a pair. Cracking view of a male after it landed on a steel barrier in front of me. Will check for breeding, but obviously at the weekend when the kids are not there.
Firecrest at the disused caravan site. Cracking views through the binoculars while it was on the outside of the trees, but as usually happens when I got the camera out it darted about in the trees. One day I will get a good photo of one.

Cre NR :-
Fairly quiet after migration, but seemed to be a lot more Reed Warblers than in recent years.
Highlight was a Hobby. Seen hunting across the reedbeds before it landed and spent some time perched in a dead tree giving good views.

Les Lacs de le Monnerie (La Fleche) :-
The sand plant has now discontinued leaving the lake it was extracting from looking really good for future birding. Still only able to view from the footpath between the two lakes but good birding areas can be seen clearly. Telescope handy for distant areas.
The two islands full of breeding Mediterranean Gulls.
A large sandbank at the top end ideal for Sand Martins. I have only seen a few on passage in previous years here but they are now all over these lakes.
Good sandy areas around the edge of the lake now and no disturbance from machinery any more. Makes me wonder which waders may have dropped in on migration this year, especially as I had a Redshank, my first locally, although I have had one previously further afield a few years ago.
Other birds around these lakes included Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Mallards, Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns, Swallows, White Wagtails, Cetti's Warblers, Sedge Warblers, & Reed Warblers.

Loire in La Fleche :-
The only place I see Rooks locally is in the Rookery here.
Grey Wagtails with young, Common Terns, and usual town centre birds.

Lac Du Maine (Angers) :-
I have missed out here in the last couple of years so was overdue to start visiting again. Had a short visit a week ago to check if Cattle Egrets & Little Terns were still using the lake.
A few Cattle Egrets were nesting with the Little Egrets, Cormorants, & Grey Herons.
Numerous Little Egrets on buoys and feeding around the lake. Also had a Common Tern, a Whiskered Tern, & a Black Tern.
Also spotted Yellow-legged Gulls, Great Crested Grebes, & Little Grebes.
My sister has now joined a "Nordic walking group for patients of the Angers Cancer Hospital" so hopefully I will have some more reports from here over the next few weeks when she goes off walking whilst I scan the lake. We should have gone there today but she got a text from the leader of the group cancelling as an orange weather warning had been issued.
BLOODY FRENCH WEATHER.


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Arrived here on 10th May so missed most of the migration period. Some good summer birds around though. More time then usual spent around the farm than usual (chores & weather dictated this), but some time spent wandering the local area.
Weather more like West Pennine Moors than France, except the lightning is more extreme & the hailstones seem bigger.

Farm birds :-
Buzzards included a couple of sightings of birds flying across horse fields very low, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Pheasants, Quail calling at various times of days but mainly at dusk at times within 20 yards of the gite, pair of Turtle Doves, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Cuckoos heard all day but it took over a fortnight to actualy see one, Tawnt Owl, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 pairs of nesting Swallows occasionally joined by Swifts & House Martins, Woodlarks, Skylarks, Black Redstarts nesting above the stables, Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Jays, Magpies, Carrion Crows, Golden Oriole made a few visits, Starlings, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches.
Interesting behaviour from the House Sparrows this time when we feed the chickens. They are pinching the food before the chickens get a chance, which takes some doing competing with those greedy so ans so's. This has not happened in all the previous years that my sister has been here.

Farmer's fields by the farm. Working in the vegetable garden put me next to one of these fields for quite some time :-
Grey Heron, Corncrakes included an actual sighting when one briefly flew up from the crops as the farmer sprayed his field, Stone Curlews heard mainly at night but occasionally during the day, a pair of Lapwings, White Wagtails, family of Stonechats, Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroats, Cirl Buntings.

Other farmyard birds a little further away have included :-
Grey Partridges, Red-legged Partridges, Crested Larks, a Whinchat on my first day would seem to be a late passing migrant, Melodious Warblers, & male Red-backed Shrikes in two locations.
Also had 2 Black Kites passing over.





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Left Loire yesterday morning. Only a few trips away from the farm over the last few weeks

Bird highlight without doubt was one of our breeding Golden Orioles chasing off a Sparrowhawk.

Only lifer was a Chequered Skipper butterfly. After years of searching for one I found this one on a pile of horse muck which I was about to remove from the farm field.



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Went a little further afield yesterday (a day off working at the farm). A friend has Little Owls at her farm near Daumeray so got my sister to drop me off in Daumeray and then headed along country lanes to Durtal.

Daumeray to Huille :-
Finally got my first Little Owl in France. On top of a telegraph pole.
Also added Garden Warbler & Corn Bunting to this year's list.

Huille to Durtal :-
Lots of flora along roadside verges, including 3 new species for me. Flax-leaved St John's Wort, Cornflower, & Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea.

Back at the farm in the afternoon was talking to my sister and her partner when a Hoppoe flew in. It landed near the swimming pool, did the usual probing in the grass, but also picked up some cherries which had dropped off their tree. Still hoping they have bred in the adjacent woodland, and will see a family group.

Black Redstarts have bred at the farm for the first time since my sister moved here. Nested in the stable block.



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Lots of work around the farm at the moment so only limited wanderings around local countryside.

Spotted Flycatcher in centre of Durtal an addition to this year's bird list.

Yesterday spent some time around Chambiers Forest.
A large falcon in a lakeside tree, making a few forays across the lake had me confused. Was on the far side of the lake so only got record shots but was able to identify it as a Lanner when I checked the photos later. Maybe an escape but great to watch anyway. Certainly behaved like a wild bird. My nephew has also seen a similar sized falcon whilst working about 5 miles away, and as we only get Peregrines here in winter probably the same bird as this one.
Purple Heron now seems resident at the lake.

Have added two lifers to butterfly list :-
Lulworth Skipper & Alcon Blue.
Fresh looking Painted Ladies now appearing.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem, Knapweed Broomrape, & Navelwort among other flora lifers.



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Only one new bird species for the trip in the last 10 days, a Purple Heron in Chambiers Forest.

New moth species for me included Great Peacock Moth (Europe's largest moth). Flying around the Honeysuckle outside the gite.
Cream-spot Tiger new for me also. Flew into the gite and landed by my feet. A striking moth, especially as it had it's wings open to show all of it's colours.

Flora for late May included :-
Monkey Orchid, Southern Marsh Orchid, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Lady Orchid, & Heath Spotted Orchid (all seen along the roadside at Cre NR).
Clove-scented Broomrape
Bastard Balm
Honesty
Wallflower Cabbage
Medium-flowered Wintercress
Hautbois Strawberry
Maiden Pink



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First Red-backed Shrike of the year yesterday. Watched a male move along the top of a thicket taking distant photos. Eventually it started displaying but it was only when I checked my photos later that I saw a female immediately beneath it, quite well hidden inside the thicket.

Finally took Quail off my heard only list. Heard it calling very close to the gite near the stable entrance. Went to check it out and saw it fly across the horse field before it landed at the far side of the field. Has been calling in the same areas for a few nights. Corncrakes also calling nightly a little further away.

Meadow Fritillary a lifer on my butterfly list.
Numbers of Painted Ladies reported from Spain the best since 2009. My local ones looking very worn now.


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Hot and sunny for most of the last week, so been very good for insects.

Butterflies doing very well, especially Painted Ladies. Normally only see the odd one or two but lots of them covering all areas that I have been walking around. Looks like one of those good Painted Lady years. Lots of other butterflies species around, and lots of new moth species for me.

Still a shortage of House Martins around, just a small flock over the farm to report. A different matter with the Swifts, every town or village with a church has plenty of them.

New species for the trip are Quail in fields by the farm & a Wood Warbler in Chambiers Forest.

Agile Frog in my local forest is a French lifer for me.
Last weekend I had to lift a Slow Worm out of the way as I was clearing a patch of nettles. Two days later I repeated the feat by moving one away from the middle of a bridleway in Chambiers Forest.

New flora species include a Large Cuckoo Pint.

Intended going back home late May after my sister's 50th birthday (21st according to her) but have been told I must stay until July to include looking after the farm for 10 days when she and Ian go to Mauritius to get wed. Lots of time now to keep adding to my French lists.

Well done to everyone who added Stone Curlew to their GM list.



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Weather getting back to normal for here after lots of rain & then strong winds.

Star bird for the trip will probably be a Booted Eagle which turned up near the farm on Monday. Flew past me very close as I meandered along a farm track. It then spent some time upsetting all the Feral Pigeons at the nearest farm to me, and flew across the fields away from me. Not very far as a couple of hours later Ian came back to the farm from Durtal and said he had passed an unusual long winged raptor, nothing like the usual stuff here. That is where it was heading.
My third sighting here, but the first for over 5 years, the previous two being in the same area as this one. Have not seen it again, and the area I am talking about is visible from the farm.

Today I finally managed to get a House Martin. Hooray !

At last we have some warmer sunny weather. Beautiful & Banded Demoiselles out now.
Butterflies now include Scarce Swallowtail, Duke of Burgundy, Brown Argus, and some blues which I need to check photos of later.

Flora of the week a Lady Orchid.



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Pouring with rain for last couple of days, and today.

Birding around the farm only. Yesterday had a flock of c20 Swifts over the farm & a flock of 6 Yellow-legged Gulls to add to species list for this trip.

Looks like being very wet until Tuesday.


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NW wind Monday, but SW wind since then. Not much migrant activity to report, but an increase in local breeding birds.
Good day Tuesday but quiet all other days.

Tuesday report :-
50+ Sand Martins at our local sand quarry. Not seen them on previous visits. They looked very interested in the large banks of sand but cannot see them nesting as the big yellow truck digs out that area a few times a day. Still no House Martins anywhere !

Firecrest (with a small flock of Crested Tits) & a Reeve's Pheasant in Chambiers Forest.

Almost back at the farm when I spotted a male Hen Harrier flying towards the farm. Then had it fly back and past me towards Durtal. Maybe explains why we had a pile of feathers in the ménage from one of the silky hens !

A couple of Corncrakes calling at dusk, as was the Nightingale.


Good luck to everyone with the Hoopoe. Cracking birds.
After seeing none anywhere here last year looks like we may have a breeding pair by the farm this year. Will never tire of seeing them in the horse fields.




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SW wind Friday & yesterday, & sunny.

Highlight of Friday was a Nightingale singing at dusk. Could be heard from the farm.

No new species during the day but a cracking first half hour heading out from the farm :-
Hoopoe calling from the top of a telegraph pole before flying across to the farm
Nightingale still in full song in same place as previous night.
Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, & Bonelli's Warbler along the next stretch of road. Bonelli's Warbler in usual breeding spot, song on a par with the Nightingale's.
Stone Curlew flew across the road landing in a ploughed field giving good views.
Loooking to the ploughed field on the other side of the road I saw 2 Wheatears, 2 White Wagtails, a Woodlark, and a Cirl Bunting.
A couple of fields away 25+ Mediterranean Gulls were following the tractors.

Cre NR migrants included :-
Black Kite, Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Terns, 2 Turtle Doves, 2 Cuckoos, 1 Golden Oriole. numerous Reed Warblers.
3 broods of ducklings, and up to 8 little Grebes (been increasing on each visit over the last week) amongst the usual stuff. No sign of the Marsh Harriers for a week.

Swifts & Swallows in Cre village, but still no House Martins.

Nightime birds were the Nightingale, Stone Curlews, a pair of Lapwings which fly around long after dark, and a Woodcock which is new for the trip.
Species total (seen & heard) = 115. Obvious suspects on the heard only list (Corncrake, Tawny Owl, Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler, & Woodcock)

Wet morning today with a SW wind, but have heard a Golden Oriole from the farmyard.


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Been very hot all week even with that pesky NE breeze. Not much movement early in the week but much more going on today.

First Reed Warblers Monday & Tuesday. Hoopoe at the farm Monday.

First Turtle Dove back at the farm Tuesday. Nice to hear something else purring instead of the cats.

Numerous Tree Pipits spread around the area on Wednesday & today. Hoopoe again at the farm Wednesday.

Four new species for the trip today:-
Golden Orioles in two different places, including forest behind the farm.
3 Yellow Wagtails together in a field. One flew off before a proper identification, the two remaining ones Blue-headed.
Grasshopper Warbler reeling.
Small flock of Pochards on a local lake.

Over the last hour at the farm we have had 4 Swallows checking out the barn, a Cuckoo in a farmyard tree, and the purring Turtle Dove.

Pochard, Turtle Dove, Swift, and Grasshopper Warbler are all firsts for me in April here.

Other wildlife enjoying the hot conditions include :-
Grass Snake swimming in Chambiers Lake.
Marsh Frogs, Common Frogs, Edible Frogs (French lifer, probably seen them before but not able to confirm until I got a photo today), Green Lizards, Wall Lizards.
Downy Emerald dragonflies & a few species of damselflies.
Butterflies include :- Western Dappled White (lifer), Green Hairstreak (French lifer), Map, Common Swallowtail, Mallow Skipper, Large Wall Brown.
Best flower certainly a Lords & Ladies.

Weather due to get wet at the weekend as in Britain.


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Strong northerly winds yesterday & today, but decent numbers of Swifts and Swallows passing through. Still not seen any House Martins this year.

Last Thursday I was in our Mandarins enclosure putting them away for the night when a Corncrake called from the adjacent farmer's field.

Tree Pipit a couple of days ago.



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3 Swifts in Cre village this morning.
Nothing new on nature reserve but I had 5 Common Terns heading north along the river over a 20 minute period. Another Common Tern on a small island at nearby lakes.
Western Bonelli's Warbler in local forest on usual territory to my previous visits over the years.


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Yesterday. :-

Numerous Whitethroats & a Wheatear on local farmland.
Common Tern along river in Durtal.
A few Melodious Warblers on the edge of town.
Found a sand quarry with some shallow water towards the end of the year. Looked good for Little Ringed Plovers, and found 2 there. First visit there this year so they could have been there for a while.
Winter damselflies in Chambiers Forest.
Common Swallowtail back at the farm. Butterfly book says should be out late May, and normally I only see Scarce Swallowtails.

Busy at the farm most of today but this morning Mediterranean Gulls were on "pongy field" as farmer ploughed it. Not too happy though when he broke some of our fence as he backed up his tractor !
Short trip out to check the Marsh Harriers. Both taking nesting material into the reedbed.


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Cheers for that Roger !. Corrected myself once and thought I had got away with it. Presumably extra smelly cow muck from a nearby farm. Horse muck is from our horses collected by your's truly for the last 3 weeks !

Blanket of mist dropped in during breakfast this morning. Set off for morning jaunt anyway and first bird I saw as I left farmyard was a cracking male Redstart a few yards away on "pongy field".

Cre NR this morning (warm & sunny by the time I got there) :-
Two Marsh Harriers, one of them carrying nesting material into the reed beds. Only seen them on passage before.
Wryneck in a field also a new species for the trip.
Male Garganey. Since my first report of Garganey I have seen males on each visit, & the odd female a couple of times.
A few Serins at the reserve. Normally only see them in the village, one of which was on a television ariel this morning.
Still not heard Sedge Warblers or Reed Warblers. Listened for them over the noise from breeding Grey Herons, Cetti's Warblers, Marsh Frogs, and a pair of Coypu shouting to each other.
Can be quite noisy with that lot !

On the way back to the farm had a Wheatear & a Crested Lark together by the roadside.



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His manure includes some of our horse muck which he mixed in, but he obviously had some much smellier stuff of his own !
.......................................................................................................................

Hope you mean his own horse muck David ??? biggrinbiggrinbiggrin
Roger.

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Back to a south/SW wind. Only have to open the gite door in a morning to smell the farmers fields to realise where the wind is coming from. His manure includes some of our horse muck which he mixed in, but he obviously had some much smellier stuff of his own !

Yesterday lunchtime I was sat outside the gite enjoying a beer and a bacon butty when a Hoopoe dropped out of the willow tree in front of me and landed in the farmyard. Stayed for a few minutes until Priscilla the Peahen saw it and did not like it at all.

This morning added Nightingale and Whitethroat to this year's trip list.

Good forecast for migrants over the next week.



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NE winds for 3 days and then E wind today so not much moving through. Only new migrant species for the trip a Black Kite.

Did get best ever views of Hawfinch though at a small woodland reserve. Went to study flora but got 2 Hawfinches feeding on the ground before they disappeared into the canopy.






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Wheatear & Willow Warbler yesterday.

Today ay Cre NR (English translation = Swamp at Cre-sur-Loir)
Male Garganey
Melodious Warbler
Willow Warbler (only a passage migrant here, breed further north)
2 Green Sandpipers & a Great Egret (supposed to be winter birds but see them all year here)

Dozens of Swallows and a few Sand Martins at nearby lakes


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Very windy yesterday. Only checked La Fleche lakes where a few Swallows passed through.
Wrong sort of crane this time. Digging out sand in the area where I have seen Little Ringed Plovers before, which has shut the track between the two lakes, so only limited viewing on the sand extraction lake. At least a hundred Mediterranean Gulls as far as I could see on the islands.

Lighter winds today but still SW. Migrants will not have to travel much further north before hitting NW winds coming in.
Numerous Swallows today on a 7 hour wander through various villages. One or two everywhere.
Cuckoos heard 6 times. First 3 in a square mile area could be the same bird.
Dozens of Meadow Pipits on a single field probably migrants, and even more Linnets than my last report.
First Serin of the trip, could be migrant or resident.

Great Crested Newt & Palmate Newt at Cre NR. Another Thomas (not the White Stork one) has been doing an amphibian survey every morning since I got here. His finds not mine, but at least I got to see them with him. Speaks some English, so with my limited French we are learning from each other with a common interest to talk about.
First impressions seeing someone over here looking for frogs made me think restaurant owner !

Added a lifer later on elsewhere with a flattened road kill Fire Salamander. Now need to find a live one to take it off the "dead lifer list".



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Only Tufted Ducks & Redwings seen moving through on Saturday.

Rain & strong wind all day yesterday. At least the wind over the last few days has been South Westerly.

After a wet start this morning I headed for Cre NR.
Got shouted over by Thomas who works around the reserve. After he checked his phone for the English translation he told me a White Stork had been there earlier.
Reserve is full of water and perfect for migrating waders. Wood Sandpiper was a good start. Pretty sure that Common Sandpipers are overwintering birds.
Still checking areas for the White Stork I checked all overflying birds more closely than usual, and it paid off as I saw a strange bird following a Grey Heron. Managed a lifer with a Sacred Ibis.
Sacred Ibis were introduced to France in 1976. Large population now in Loire Estuary, with birds now along the coast up to Brittany, and in Eastern France. Still unusual inland in Western France, so delighted to get one in my local area.
Swallow near the farm this afternoon & 100+ Linnets.



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A few hours after my last report I was stood on the patio stargazing, chatting to my sister as she put the ducks/hens to bed. As soon as I had said "Cuckoo this morning so Stone Curlews cannot be far away" we heard one calling.

Common Crane this morning at Cre NR.

No Swallows since my last report. Only birds passing through today were a small flock of Siskins and a few dozen Fieldfares over the farm this afternoon.


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Intend to report summer migrants heading your way, but had a day of winter migrants yesterday.

Started with a Swallow over the farm but then had to put up with a murky wet day more suited to Bromley Cross than France. However lots of Redwings dropped in. Dozens at Cre
Nature Reserve (even had a wintering Water Pipit here) and c200 birds at the farm when I got back, soaked through. My sister also had a skein of Bean Geese flying over the evening before as she drove back from town with my niece.

Only a few Redwings near the farm early this morning, but a couple of dozen Fieldfares (only one yesterday). A few Fieldfares heard this afternoon also.

A few more Redwings at Chambiers Forest mid morning, but then a summer bird.
A male Cuckoo calling constantly as I wandered around Chambiers Forest.



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Colder here than Manchester yesterday. Even had a delayed landing at Nantes due to a flock of birds on the runway ! Not sure what they were but there are normally lots of Carrion Crows around the airport.

Proper spring day today to check on summer migrants already here.
Set off for a wander straight after breakfast and before I left the farmyard I had 20+ Mediterranean Gulls flying over, heading for breeding site at La Fleche.
Swallow in Durtal town centre, and either the same bird or another Swallow just down the road at Chambiers Forest lake about 30 minutes later.
Lots of Chiffchaffs everywhere, and numerous Blackcaps spread around.

Much better for butterflies than previous March visits. Brimstones, Small Whites, Wall Browns, Holly Blue, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and a Comma.


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A few more flowers identified from November photos, and one new one in December, before I left on Thursday.

Chicory, Stinking Chamomile, Coneflower, & Angelica (the latter one in December).





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Forgot to put to Dogwood & Lesser Skullcap on my list.
Have now identified Snowdrop Windflower from one of my photos.
Meadow Buttercup seen today.

16 Great White Egrets at Chambiers Forest yesterday but still no sign of small winter birds arriving.



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Still very mild weather, with only a Golden Plover flying over to add to November list.

Wild flowers & shrubs with berries seen since 12th November :-
Agrimony, Balm, Black Medick, Black Nightshade, Bladder Campion, Blue Lettuce, Bramble, Broad-leaved Dock, Broom, Bugle, Bulrush, Burnet Saxifrage, Bush Vetch, Butcher's Broom,
Common Chickweed/Cleavers/Comfrey/Dog Violet/Duckweed/Field Speedwell/Fleabane/ Milkwort/Mouse-ear/Sorrel/Storksbill/Toadflax/Water-plantain,
Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Waterweed, Charlock, Coltsfoot, Coralroot Bittercress, Cowslip, Crab Apple (with apples), Creeping Buttercup, Creeping Thistle, Cross-leaved Heath,
Daisy, Dandelion, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, Fat Hen, Field Bindweed, Field Scabious, French Cranesbill, Germander Speedwell, Gorse, Great Mullein, Greater Burdock, Greater Plantain, Greater Stitchwort, Ground Elder, Ground Ivy, Hairy Nightshade, Harebell, Hawthorn, Heather, Heath Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw, Hedgerow Cranesbill, Herb Robert, Hogweed, Holly, Honewort, Honeysuckle, Ivy, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Large-flowered Evening Primrose, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Dandelion, Lesser Periwinkle, Lesser Spearwort, Many-seeded Goosefoot, Marjoram, Meadow Cranesbill, Meadow Violet, Meadowsweet, Mugwort, nettle, Nipplewort, Ox-eye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pale Toadflax, Parsley Water Dropwort, Pellitory of the Wall, Pencilled Cranesbill, Perforate St John's Wort, Pignut, Pink Purslane, Prickly Sow-thistle, Ragwort, Red Clover, Red Dead-nettle, Ribbed Melilot, Ribwort Plantain, Rough Chervil, Rough Hawksbeard, Scentless Mayweed, Self-heal, Shaggy Soldier, Shepherd's Purse, Slender Knapweed, Small Scabious, Smooth Sow-thistle, Spear Thistle, Spreading Bellflower, Sticky Groundsel, Stone Parsley, Strawberry Clover, Sun Spurge, Sunflower (numerous in farmer's field next to farm), Teasel, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Three-leaved Sandwort, Tufted Vetch, Upright Hedge Parsley, Viper's Bugloss, Viper's Grass, Wall Fumitory, Wall Lettuce, Water Forgetmenot, Welsh Poppy, White Clover, White Dead-nettle, Wild Parsnip, Wild Privet, Wild Radish, Wild Thyme, Winter Savory, Wood Sage, Yarrow, Yellow Oxalis, Zigzag Clover.

Has been a crazy month with flowers from all seasons, and a pair of lambs nearby.

Still some flowers to identify as Collins book covers Britain & Brittany, but not as far south as Loire Valley.






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Common Crane flying over Cre village as I headed for the nature reserve this morning, from where it seemed to be coming.

French lifer, even though they are fairly common in other parts of Loire Valley, even in winter.



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Still very mild weather here, with wild flower list since my last post up to 120. Still finding something new each day. Also had Clouded Yellow and Common Darter yesterday.

Only been getting ducks, Redwings, and Fieldfares, in general up to a couple of days ago. But things finally seem to be happening, especially about an hour ago when I heard geese approaching, sounding like Pink-footed Geese, as I was cleaning up horse manure. They appeared over the tops of the trees in V formation, going directly over my head as they headed south, and were obviously Bean Geese this far south. As the Collins Guide says, you need practice to tell the difference in their calls from Pink-footed Geese. I am not that good !

Saturday had a Marsh Harrier and 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over. To see one LBB Gull is very unusual around here.

Yellow-legged Gull along the river in Durtal this morning.


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French lifer with about a dozen Greylags flying low over Chambiers Forest. Any wild geese around here are passing birds in winter, only ever seen one other flock in 6 years, which was a large flock of Bean Geese passing over a couple of years ago. I was by the main lake checking fungi when the Greylags passed over heading south.

Lots of woodland fungi about at the moment , and this morning lots of wild flowers re-appearing.

Not been a lot happening with the birds this month, just an increase in wintering ducks, including the appearance of Gadwalls & Tufted Ducks.

Still got Clouded Yellows & Speckled Woods, Common Darters, and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in town today.


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Wrong about the Stone Curlews having left in my last post. Farmers have been working during the day and throughout the night for over a week, mainly ploughing but also cutting maize.
They must have moved to different fields as I had 35 on the usual field a couple of days ago.

Monday 27th :-
First Fieldfare of the winter on local farmland.

Tuesday 28th :-
French lifer with a female Scaup, which got me looking into what a Scaup would be doing inland and this far south. Checking the distribution map in a French field guide I came up with birds wintering along the west coast to about level with this area, in Eastern France further South than here, and in the South of France on the Mediterranean.

Wednesday 29th :-
Two Firecrests along the Loire in Durtal. They flew across the front of my face and landing only a few feet away.
A longer walk than normal took me to Chambiers Forest on the other side of Durtal to try and find something different and work out a route to check all the lakes and ponds for when wintering ducks start to arrive. I have only made brief visits in the past with my sister so not really done a serious birding trip around this large forest.
Ring Ouzel and Green Sandpiper were surprises and the residents included Black Woodpecker, Crested Tit, and Marsh Tit.

Still got butterfly species around :-
Large White, Small White, Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Comma, Wall, & Speckled Wood.
Humming-bird Hawkmoths still out.


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Nice to see the Great White Egret is still on my local patch back home, which would be a local lifer for me.
Even missed out on one here yesterday in the ménage at the farm which my sister informed me of when I got back from a tour of farmland and Durtal. I saw it flying from the farm area when I was heading towards the farm but missed out on it being a "proper garden tick" instead of seeing them on nearby fields ! It was about 15 yards from the gite.

Today fairly quiet, but yesterday there were more Cirl Buntings than normal, and a flock of Yellowhammers at the farm with the resident Cirl Buntings.

Stone Curlews have finally left.


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Lots of Siskins passing through yesterday.
Along the river in Bazouges I counted a flock of c50 birds flying over and then c170 birds in trees along the river bank.

Still got 30+ Stone Curlews on their field this morning.


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Birds still building up for winter with a few passing through over the last few days.

Thursday :-
Hobby passing through and still the couple of Corncrakes.
Two Great White Egrets together on local fields. Only seen one at Cre NR/Bazouges Lakes all summer so these are probably birds coming in for winter. Visible from the gite patio.
C35 Stone Curlews in a tight flock making it very difficult to get an exact count.

Friday :-
First Siskin of the winter at Cre NR, with Great White Egret, and numerous Teal which arrived in September.
Also at the reserve about 20 blokes doing some survey work, after first setting out tables full of grub and red wine. After all it was already 10am by the time they were fed and watered.
No wonder the French way of life suits me just fine.
32 Stone Curlews counted.

Yesterday :-
14 Cormorants flying over farmland probably coming in for winter.
Small flock of Yellowhammers unusual around here, normally just see the odd one.
Finally got to 40 Stone Curlews after many counts of high thirties over the years.

This morning a couple of hours around local fields before the shooters got too close for comfort.
30+ Stone Curlews on the ploughed field, with others probably hidden on adjacent field with low vegetation.
A lot more Skylarks around.
Flock of Blackcaps, up to 10 birds.
Well over 100 White Wagtails with 79 Lapwings on a different field to Stone Curlews.

Still waiting for thrushes to arrive. Checking migration around the farm in glorious sunny weather for the rest of the day, the French way of course, with bottles of wine !


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Fields have been filling up with wintering migrants since the beginning of October, mainly Skylarks, Woodlarks, Crested Larks, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings, Carrion Crows, and Jackdaws.
Finally, after having had only Swallows passing through, things seem to be getting more interesting after this morning's wander around the local fields.

Flocks of 200+ Whites Wagtails & 50+ Goldfinches.
A couple of Corncrakes.

Noisy neighbours (Stone Curlews) still here. 17 seen in flight this morning, 26 a couple of days ago. Always probable that there are others on "their field" hidden away.This is also the field that the Lapwings have been using, 50+ birds now after only a single bird there at the start of the month.

I thought the Stone Curlews would have left by now, and will miss their calls, mainly at dusk, but also during darkness, when they do go.


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September was very hot and sunny with only a little rain on a couple of days. Not a large amount of migrants but a good selection with a few French lifers. Very good for butterflies unlike August.
All Sightings within a few miles of the farm.

Birds :-
Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Black Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Pheasant, Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Water Rail, Baillon's Crake (French lifer at Cre NR), Moorhen, Coot, Stone Curlew (highest count of 37 on usual field), Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit (French lifer with a small group at Cre including juveniles), Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Kingfisher, Black Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark, Skylark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Whinchat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Yellowhammer.

Mammals :-
Brown Hare, Rabbit, Coypu, Red Squirrel, Wild Boar, House Mouse, Wood Mouse, Mole, Roe Deer, Pipisrelle, and some larger bats but not got my detector with me.

Reptiles/amphibians :-
Common Frog, Marsh Frog, Tree Frog, Common Toad, Common Lizard, Wall Lizard, Green Lizard, Grass Snake, Red-eared Terrapin.

Butterflies :-
Tufted Marbled Skipper (lifer), Mallow Skipper, Swallowtail, Clouded Yellow, Berger's Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Mazarine Blue, Adonis Blue, Chapman's Blue, Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock, Map, Silver-washed Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath.

Not a lot of dragonflies/damselflies about but I did get a French lifer with Green-eyed Hooktail.

Dozens of new moth species including my moth of the month with a Convolvulus Hawkmoth. Only spotted because Ian was about to nail a piece of fence back together when he saw "a massive moth" on the fence post. I had passed it a couple of times as it was so well camouflaged on a grey background, and I then had to carry it to another part of the fence so we could put the nail in !

Not been here in October before so am looking forward to hopefully getting some more local lifers passing through. Already got a lifer for anywhere yesterday with an unexpected Chalk-hill Blue butterfly. Also still being treated to 30+ Stone Curlews.





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As with Britain not the best August with most days since early in the month overcast, with some sunny spells.
Some migration late month, with Marsh Harrier, Wood Warbler, and Wood Sandpiper, the latter a French lifer. Seen a few days ago with Common Sandpipers on the banks of the Loire at Cre NR.

September already much better, with a sunny day at last, and first signs of proper migration.
Numerous Willow Warblers passing through and a Wheatear in "Stone Curlew field ". Post breeding /pre migration flock of Stone Curlews up to 26 birds. Easy to count when a Buzzard puts them up.

Lots of moth lifers, the highlight being a Drinker and an Eyed Hawk-moth inside the gite at the same time, the latter making a lot of noise flying into the beams !

Looks like I will be needed here until at least mid November so lots of migration to check on.



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Been here two weeks to help my sister around the farm again. Probably be needed for another few weeks so will do reports in stages instead of one long one.

Fairly quiet around the farm/local farmland, highlights being :-
Stone Curlews calling every night as usual, but since 28th July have been calling during the day also. Normally get a flock of up to 40 birds by late August on nearby fields.
One of the resident Buzzards left behind a freshly caught Slow-worm on the farm lane after I disturbed it.
Red Kite flying over. Only seen a couple here before in winter months so my first summer one here. Probably the same bird seen the day after high above Cre. Head very pale looking white rather than grey.
Black Kite flying over a day after the Red Kite.

Been a good trip for butterflies & moths, the latter mainly on the gite wall by the lights at night, but Hummingbird Hawkmoths & Jersey Tigers on the Buddleia by the gite patio.
Butterflies by the gite have included Common Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, & Silver-washed Fritillary. Nice to have things like these for company whilst relaxing with a beer or a glass of wine !

Lifers up to now are Escher's Blue butterfly & Southern damselfly. Long-tailed Blue a French lifer.

Cre Nature Reserve, a couple of visits each week :-
On my first visit I saw 3 Cormorants, 6 Little Egrets, 1 Great Egret, 4 Grey Herons, 1 Purple Heron (seen again a few days later), Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, Water Rails calling, Kingfishers, Black-headed Gulls, & Common Terns.
Including all visits birds have included Black Kite, Buzzards, Turtle Doves, Tawny Owl, Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, House Martins, Swallows, Grasshopper Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Garden Warbler, & Chiffchaffs. Also around a dead Hedgehog by the roadside, Rabbits, Coypus, Common Lizards, Wall Lizards, Marsh Frogs, & a small Toad.

Lakes between Cre & Bazouges :-
Highlight was a family of Spotted Flycatchers and at least 6 Common Sandpipers on my first visit of the trip. Also had Common Terns fishing on one visit. Great Crested Grebes the only different birds to Cre NR.

After seeing no Spotted Flycatchers on my June visit I also found a couple in my local forest just behind the farm. I could hear Crested Tits at the same time but they were too high in the canopy to see them.

Now waiting for birds to pass through heading south, still not seen a Swift since getting back. The breeding colonies in Durtal, Cre, & Bazouges, had already gone when I got here.



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Arrived 31st May and returning home tomorrow. Extended stay as my sister had some major surgery (I was Head Honcho on the farm while she was in hospital for a week) and changed my flight to keep working on the farm/stopping her doing anything. Therefore not much time spent away from the farm.

Farm highlights :-
Golden Orioles for the first 10 days or so, and a daily Cuckoo. All these had left by mid month.
Stone Curlews, Nightjars, Corncrakes, and Quail heard at dusk, the latter also during the day. Quail eggs from the aviary washed down with a glass of wine.
Black Woodpecker flying through the farm when it was my turn to "wet my lips"
This morning I kept hearing a Hoopoe whilst cleaning up after the horses. On the way back to the stables it landed on a wire over the field I was in. Great view but unfortunately I only had a pitchfork and wheelbarrow not my camera. After a couple of minutes it flew off towards our friend's house down the lane but could not find it again when I went down there later.
Other birds around included Buzzards, Mediterranean Gulls flying over, Turtle Doves, Skylarks, Stonechats, Cirl Buntings, Green Woodpeckers, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Full species lists for farm/farmland, Durtal, Cre, Bazouges, and La Fleche :-

Birds :-
Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Black Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Kestrel, Pheasant, Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Quail, Water Rail, Corncrake, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Stone Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Tern, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Nightjar, Swift, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Black Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wryneck, Woodlark, Skylark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Tawny Pipit (French lifer), Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Crested Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Red-backed Shrike, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Yellowhammer.

Mammals :-
Coypu, Beech Marten heard and droppings seen, Pine Marten Droppings seen, dead Moles on country lanes, House Mice in aviary, Pipistrelles, and a large unidentified bat.

Amphibians/reptiles :-
Common Frog, Marsh Frog, Tree Frog, Wall Lizard, Green Lizard, Slow-worm, Aescalupian Snake (road kill).

Butterflies :-
Mallow Skipper, Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Scarce Swallowtail, Wood White, Black-veined White, Green-veined White, Large White, Small White, Clouded Yellow, Berger's Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Sooty Copper, Small Blue, Holly Blue, Large Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Silver-washed Fritillary, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Knapweed Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, White Admiral, Southern White Admiral, Speckled Wood, Wall, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Marbled White.

Damselflies :-
Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle, Copper Demoiselle, Emerald, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Azure, Large Red, White-legged, Orange White-legged.

Dragonflies :-
Migrant Hawker, Norfolk Hawker, Western Clubtail, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Scarlet Darter.

Moths included :-
Agapeta hamana, Agapeta zoegana, Blood-vein, Brimstone, Brown House-moth, Cinnabar, Clouded Border, Common Emerald, Common Fan-foot, Common Footman, Common Wainscot, Green Oak Tortrix, Green Pug, Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Lace Border, Large Yellow Underwing, Latticed Heath, Light Brown Apple Moth, Magpie, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, Silver Y, Small Blood-vein, Small Dusty Wave, Small Fan-footed Wave, Small Magpie, Spotted Sulphur, Straw Dot, Swallow-tailed, White Ermine, Willow Beauty.
Lots of photos to check when I get home.



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A couple of weeks with family, birding for a few hours locally each day. I even managed 20 minutes buying xmas presents to remember why I was really here !
Very mild conditions with very little wind (after a very interesting take off from Manchester in the severe gales), but the downside of not as many winter migrants as usual in December. A Swallow on my first full day should have given me a clue. Woodpeckers drumming, Hoverflies buzzing about, and Grasshoppers or Crickets heard throughout.
Still managed 5 new species for my local patch here.

Little Grebe , Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard (possibly an escape but seemed very wary), Pochard, Tufted Duck, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk (first confirmed Loire lifer), Buzzard, Peregrine (Loire lifer, only a winter visitor here), Kestrel, Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwings (1,000 plus at times on local farmland, not on rooftops unlike at home), Ruff (Loire lifer), Snipe, Jack Snipe (Loire lifer with a flock of Snipe), Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Kingfisher, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark, Skylark, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Fieldfare (largest flock of 3), Redwing (only single birds seen), Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Zitting Cisticola/Fan-tailed Warbler (Loire lifer, a brief glimpse of one for the first time, heard numerous others), Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Wren, Jay, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Siskin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Cirl Bunting.



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Before leaving for the airport on Saturday morning I managed to add Whinchat and Whitethroat to my list.

Moths that I have managed to identify :-
Agapeta zoegana, Alder Kitten, Blood-vein, Brimstone, Beautiful Arches, Brown China-mark, Chinese Character, Coronet, Deep-brown Dart, European Corn-borer, Feathered Gothic, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Light Emerald, Mottled Beauty, Marbled Green, Oncocera semirubella, Portland Ribbon Wave, Pale-rose Saffron, Rose-lined Saffron, Riband Wave, Silver Y, Straw Dot, Small Purple-barred, Small Blood-vein, Sitochroa palealis, Snout, Vestal, Willow Beauty.
(Lots of others unable to identify)


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Last night of a three week trip to my sister's farm. A lot of the summer birds had already left, fairly quiet with passing migrants (apart from lots of Swallows & House Martins), but a few Loire lifers and other unusual passing birds. Most of the time spent mooching around my local patch checking what was passing through.

Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Cormorants, Little Egrets, Great Egrets (10+ at Domaine de Boudre), Grey Herons, Purple Heron (flew out of a ditch at Cre only about 10 yards away), Swan Geese & Muscovy as usual in Durtal, Mute Swans, Mallards, Garganey (Cre), Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Red-crested Pochard (presumably an escape as they are common on private ponds), Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, Black Kite (seen daily for the first 10 days on local telegraph poles), Marsh Harrier (hunting over reedbed at Cre), Hobbies, Kestrels, Pheasants (surprisingly no Partridge species, but lots of shooters !), Little Crake (heard from a ditch at Cre, Loire lifer), Moorhens, Coots, Lapwings, Snipe (numerous at Cre), Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpiper (seen a few times on the Loire at Bazouges), Stone Curlews (as usual they gathered together on local fields in September c25, previously I have seen 40+),
Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns, Feral Pigeons, Stock Doves, Woodpigeons, Turtle Doves (local pair joined by 20+ for a few days), Collared Doves, Tawny Owl, Kingfishers, Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Crested Lark (not for the first time I found one on a main road roundabout), Swallows, House Martins, Meadow Pipits, White Wagtails, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (just the one mixed in with cattle), Dunnocks, Robins, Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Wheatears (only seen one in 5 years so half a dozen was a good return. One on Lidl car park seemed out of place), Blackbirds, Ring Ouzel (one with a flock of Blackbirds was a Loire lifer), Song Thrushes, Mistle Thrushes, Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warblers, Willow Warblers, Western Bonelli's Warbler (best view of one yet), Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests, Wrens, Pied Flycatcher (Loire lifer, well done Mike on your first ones in Spain. First spotted as I greeted friends for a barbecue in the evening and it stayed for most of the next morning in our farmyard Weeping Willow), Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Crested Tits, Marsh Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatches, Short-toed Treecreepers, Magpies, Jays, Jackdaws, Rooks, Carrion Crows, Starlings, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Cirl Buntings.

Red Squirrel, Hedgehog (road kill), Rabbit, Brown Hare, Wild Boar (finally saw one running through the Sunflowers, only heard them before), Beech Marten (still not seen one, droppings are everywhere so surely just a matter of time), Roe Deer, Coypu, House Mouse (lots in the aviary, still trying to get rid of them), Red Fox.
Marsh Frog, Tree Frog, Common Lizard, Wall Lizard.

Butterflies. Between 30 & 40 degrees for the first few days so the list got going immediately.
Mallow Skipper, Brimstone, Clouded Yellow, Berger's Clouded Yellow (first confirmed sighting by checking a photo), Large White, Green-veined White, Small White, Small Copper, Sooty Copper, Brown Argus, Short-tailed Blue, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Comma, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Map, Silver-washed Fritillary, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Spotted Fritillary (Loire lifer), Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath.

Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle, Common Emerald, Blue-tailed.

Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker (including one in my bedroom. It is amazing how noisy they can sound !), Brilliant Emerald (lifer), Black-tailed Skimmer, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Southern Darter.

Lots of moth photos to check when I get home.



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This forum is dedicated to the memory of Eva Janice McKerchar; rest in peace mum.