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Post Info TOPIC: Paris region, France

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RE: Paris region, France

8 Purple Heron flew over the Palace of Versailles this morning 

Other birds seen during a wander of the gardens included a Honey Buzzard showing well and providing a good backdrop to the fountains of the Mirror Pool, Black Redstart in an Olive tree in the Orangery Garden and a Short-Toed Treecreeper. At least 300 House Martin were on and around the Palace itself


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A weekend break in central Paris in April, with no transport apart from the Metro or walking, was still a good birding experience. We went to Pere Lachaise cemetery, 11 acres of traffic-free wooded paths. There were several lesser spotted woodpeckers drumming and calling, and easy to see. I saw my first short-toed treecreepersbiggrin. There were good views of the resident firecrests, and a woodcock flew over.


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Cheers for your comments! (And no, no Lesser Spotted David Beckam seen yet!)

Today being a beautiful day in France, with really warm temperatures (going into the 20°C!), I just had to get out again and have another go at the St Germain forest and L'Etang du Corra.

The day started well before I even left a garden: a Willow Warbler singing softly from the top of the tree. I was off today to find some more Phylloscopi warblers, namely Wood Warblers and Bonelli's Warblers, who still elude me, though I'm sure they turn up in the forest during the migration season. So the Willow Warbler seemed like a sort of premonition as I set off.

I hadn't even got to the forest yet when another surprise awaited me. 4 lovely Hawfinches in the tree tops. They are more common here than in England, but they are just as hard to see in the trees.

After that nice start, I finally got to the forest and I had quite a good visit! I finally managed to get a 'full house': I managed to see all 5 woodpeckers, Black Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker (without a hyphen, as I now know), Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. I went back to where I saw the Black Woodpecker last time, and for once I found it in the same area (normally that never happens). To be honest, I see Black Woodpeckers more often than Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, mainly because I 'overlook' them. Another Cuckoo heard, with a few Nightingales singing. I also had a lone Redwing fly past! It seemed completely out of place.

Finally I got to the Etang du Corra, where I was confronted with a lack of diversity on the duck front (just 8 Gadwalls of interest), but it was amply compensated by a Black-necked Grebe! I know it will probably not stay, but these are rare breeding birds in the Paris region, so I'm dead chuffed, especially as I saw it in all its summer plumage glory! It is also a new tick and on my own patch, so double points for that. My previous 'big one' seen on the Etang was a Purple Heron last year (A very rare visitor in Ile-de-France region).

Apart from that, a couple of Sedge Warblers, 4-5 Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs each, and a Little Grebe hanging about. Then there are all the usuals.

And that's about it. I didn't see any Wood Warblers or Bonelli's Warbler, despite looking all over. Bonelli's Warblers are just arriving now, but it seems I'm a bit too early.

Target birds: Golden Plover, Little Owl, Common Crossbill.

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Good report Paul, and I can relate to some of your comments.

I saw my second birder in five years on my last trip, both of them at the heronry at Lac Du Maine. On my recent trip as I pointed out the newly arrived Cattle Egrets her husband/partner seemed totally disinterested.

I have heard Black Woodpeckers on most trips but only had a good view once when we found one on a telegraph pole as we approached in a car. Even on a trip to Hungary with Gerard Gorman as our guide (the author of Woodpeckers of Europe) we only found one pair, and that was because they had started roosting in a nest hole in autumn. It may be the largest European Woodpecker but I have found it easier to see the smallest one, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Cheers, David.


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Nice report Paul, surprised that you didn't find Crested Tit or a Lesser spotted David Beckham! :) (for those that dont know, the Paris st Germain training ground is located in the middle of the forest)


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Decided to do a few birding reports 'a la David Lumb'

On holiday visiting familly, and I'm currently visiting all my old birding patches where I first started birding (so I'm really a french birder at heart). My main patch is the forest of St Germain-en-Laye and its jewel, l'Etang du Corra (a small lake). The forest is not the biggest in the region or the best (The forests of Rambouillet and Fotainebleau are the top places to go), and the best waterbody in the region is the Etang du Pourras (sort of like our Pennington flash). I'm sort of the only person who really surveys the 35km² forest, though thanks to my good finds and advertising the Etang du Corra has now a small group of regular birders who visit it now.

The forest is heavily managed, with a mix of new growth, young trees, and mature oak woods, with some patches of pine trees, meaning that there is a wide arrange of habitat for many birds.

I started of my morning by cycling all across the forest. I've seen 5 species of Woodpeckers in the forest: Black, Green, Great Spotted, Middle Spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, though I've never managed to see all 5 at the same time, since there are only 2-3 pairs of Black woodpeckers in the forest, and Lesser spotted Woodpeckers are quite shy. So I was happy today when I saw 4! A hat-trick of Great, Middle and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (there is something very satisfying when you see all three of them), and a brief glimpse of a Black Woodpecker.

Other interesting thing was the increasing number of Nightingales singing in the woods. In a few weeks time there will be hardly a single place in the forest where you can't hear the Nightingales singing. I don't know what's special about this place, but at the moment I'm the one recording the most Nightingales in the region, even if they are just arriving. Today I also recorded the first Grasshopper warbler of the year in the region (and before anybody asks, it wasn't a Wren and I made sure it was a Grasshopper Warbler this time), so I'm dead chuffed. Also heard my first Cuckoo today.

I finally arrived at the Etang du Corra, where the high water level foiled my attempt to find any waders, but I was amply compensated be a drake Garganey flying in, showing off and calling. I also found a Sedge Warbler in the reeds and 2 Grey Partridges flying low over the water, after being flushed by some joggers. Also had good numbers of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap, with Swallows flying about with a few House Martins.

I also had good numbers of ducks, including a few Shovelers, a Gadwall, and Tufted Ducks, though they normally all just migrate through and don't breed.

So the birds seen are
Canada goose
Tufted Duck
Grey Partridge
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Black-headed Gull
Feral Pigeon
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
House Martin
White Wagtail
Black Redstart
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Grasshopper Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Short-toed Treecreeper

50 species in all!

And for those who know french, the regional birding website: www.faune-iledefrance.org

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Saturday 13th of April 2013 09:57:36 PM

Target birds: Golden Plover, Little Owl, Common Crossbill.

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Paris is a place that I have often visited for work and pleasure. One of my old schoolmates from Middleton has lived there for almost 10 years now and I usually try to get over a couple of times a year to see him and to keep in touch with my Godaughter. Over the last year or so his eldest son has got seriously into birding and its nice to be able to help encourage him and to get to benefit from the local knowledge that he has built up. He's hoping to study at Manchester University next year, so I'll be sure to get him posting on here. :)

My mate and his family live close to the fairly cosmopolitan area of St Germain-en-Laye to the West of Paris, where there is the obligatory English pub (The Bitter End) and a whole series of fine wine and patisserie shops. From the chateau in the town centre there is a fabulous view across the whole city of Paris which would make a great Migration viewpoint, and nearby there is the large Forest of St Germain, while the Seine winds its way through the valley below the town. Birds are plentiful in the forest, parks and gardens. Black Redstarts are numerous and all in all, it seems a pretty rosy place to go for a weekend's birding.

Fri 14-Oct-2011
As I couldn't get into my chosen hotel on Thursday night, I ended up in a different hotel, so after breakfast I checked out the local parks. Aside from the slow by steady flow of Woodpigeons above, heading mainly north and north-west, the parks held the usual common passerines, Green and Great Spotted Wodpeckers, lots of Jay and a Mistle Thrush, which wasn't much to show for a 3 hour walk.

Etang du Corra (14:30 - 16:30)
During the afternoon, my mate's wife offered to drive us out to this small lake, which was described by my mate's son as one of the best local birding spots. This ex-gravel pit is located at the north west point of the forest of St Germain. During the summer there had been Hobby nesting nearby and a reasonable steam of good birds, but with the water level low, there wasn't much around aside from a lot of Black-headed Gulls, the usual Mallards, Coot, Moorhen etc and a few Reed Bunting. The area seemed good for Butterflys though with some cracking Comma seen along with plenty of small/large/green-veined White.

This area of the forest is sadly used for other outdoor activities, with prostitutes soliciting from many of the paths along the main road.

Sat 15-Oct-2011
Reserve Naturel de St Quentin, Yvelines (08:45 - 11:30)
Once again, my mate's wife did us a huge favour by driving us out to this reserve, which is situated out past Versailles, to the SW of Paris. I was very fortunate that I my visit coincided with one of the days where the reserve was open and the early start ( including missing breakfast at the hotel) was rewarded by some excellent birding and a few lifers for myself and my friend's son.

The lake itself was built by Louis XIV to provide water for Versailles, but these days is used largely for water-sport. However, as the lake has also become important for wintering waterfowl, the western end of the lake has been dedicated for use as a Nature Reserve for some time now. It is possible to walk around the lake at all times of the year, but there are very few points where one can get close to the water's edge and it is only on those days where the Reserve is open to the public, that one can access the hides and get good views onto the  scrapes and over another small lake that is enclosed within the reserve itself. There is also a small hill (Belvedere) that is enclosd witin the reserve and affords some great views across the reserve and large parts of the main lake. There are two good hides which could each accomodate around 20 birders.

The waterfowl included good numbers of the following
- Teal
- Shoveler
- Pochard
- Tufted Duck
- Gadwall
- Wigeon
- several Little Grebe
- around 10 Great White Egret

Waders included
- 100+ Lapwing
- 3 Common Snipe
- Greenshank
- Redshank
- 2 Dunlin

Gulls were mainly of the Black-headed variety. Some larger gulls were present, but too far away for me to id properly without a scope. Yellow-Legged Gull was later reported at the same site by another observer.

However, for us, the birds of the day were 2 Ospreys which gave fantastic views when perched and when flying and hovering. We were not lucky enough to see the birds fishing, but in all other respects we were amply satisfied. Once again another observer reported Marsh Harier at the same location during the same day, but we did not see it as we left early in order to catch the Man Utd vs Liverpool game.

Overall we observed around 30 species in all and 5 or 6 species of Butterflys including a group of 6 Red Admiral.  However around 230 species have been recorded at the site in recent years so it is definately a location that is worth another visit or two - but if planning to visit, do check that the Reserve is going to be open.

Sun 16-Oct-2011
Sunday meant more family orientated activities and we embarked on a walk along the Seine and the surrounding hills which took in a selection of locations that were painted by the impressionists. Once again the weather was great with a gorgeous clear blue sky, very little breeze and a warmish autumnal sun.

It wasn't intended as a 'birding' walk as such, but you have to take your bins along, just in case, don't you? Sure enough, despite an inauspicious start, the fine weather brought out some raptors and while descending a gorgeous tree- lined avenue (which also formed part of the infrastructure that Louis XIV put together to support Versailles) and beginning to compare the present day view with the one seen by Sisley, my mate's son spotted a Red Kite soaring high above our heads. No sooner had that drifted from view than it was followed by a female Sparrowhawk which was at a similar height. Then while we congratulated ourselves a Peregrine drifted across our path and all to quickly was out of sight.

In fact it appeared to have been a good day to have seen a Red Kite with several birds seen across the city including one which appeared to have included most of the prime tourist sights on its route. Given that the bird I saw was drifting west it is possible that it was one of those seen earlier in the afternoon in central Paris.

The walk back along the Seine and past a number of water bodies nearby revealed large numbers of Coot, Mallard, Cormorant, a few Little Grebe, Gadwall and a Mandarin  Duck. The trees held several calling Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, House Sparrow(also decreasing in numbers in Paris), Greenfinch, Collared Dove and a lone Ring-necked Parakeet. Nothing amazing, but it filled in a few obvious gaps on my French yearlist.

Mon 17-Oct-2011
Forêt domaniale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (09:30 - 13:20)
The hotel that I usually stay in is right on the edge of this huge forest, which makes it ideally located for walks in this beautiful mature woodland. Besides the usual common passerines, a short distance into the forest it was possible to see the following:
- 4+ Goldcrest
- 3+ Crested Tit
- 2+ Marsh Tit
- plenty of Middle-Spotted Woodpecker
- plenty of short-toed Treecreeper
Black Woodpecker does exist in the Forest, but in a small area of the northern part, which was too far away from my hotel to get to on foot. I actually managed to walk around for nearly 4 hours without getting more than perhaps a mile at most from my hotel. I find it very easy to get disorientated and lost in this forest despite the well marked paths for walkers, biking and horse-riding, so once again there is still plenty to explore on future visits.

Ivry-sur-Seine (afternoon visit)
Paris also has its urban Peregrines, with an established pair at this site, along with birds frequently reported at la Defence and close to the Eiffel Tower. I chose to go to this site as it was the one where I thought it would be the easiest to locate the Birds. Though the site was located in a grubby industrial part of Paris that I have never visited before, it didnt look that far to go by RER. The tower where the birds are seen is very easy to pick out as it is significantly higher than any other buildings in the area, but getting to Ivry-sur-Seine proved tricky by RER, as I first caught a fast train which whizzed past 6 stations and deposited me way out of town, forcing me to retrace my steps. The birds however were very obliging, when I finally got there. If you go to see them, I'd recommend taking a scope as the tower is very tall (much taller than it appears in photos) and the area where the birds sit is close to the top (just like the birds at the Tate Modern in London).

You can follow the birds via this blog(in French) if you are interested.

All in all a very productive long weekend's birding, which was made much easier by my mate's wife kindly taking us out to the various lakes by car and organising the sunday afternoon walk.

There is now a great website for sightings around Paris, which I think has gone online only recently. Definately worth perusing if you are going over there, but not really geared up to allow non-parisian residents to subscribe and contribute.


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This forum is dedicated to the memory of Eva Janice McKerchar.