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Old Monday 5th June 2017, 07:32   #51
rosbifs
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Back to the 'trip.

Friday morning and a dash to find Black Shouldered Kite and some waterbirds. Headed to Ayguelongue. There are night Herons etc. and some Turtle Dove and hopefully in the vicinity some BS Kites.

En route said bird flew across the road in front of the car, unfortunately, too busy to stop and although a little search down side roads followed couldn't pick it up again!

The lake produced what the lake produces - at least 2 calling Turtle Doves, a handful of Night Herons and buckets of Great Crested Grebes. I then caught the glimpse of a raptor but lost it behind a couple of trees only to hear some whooping and wailing behind me. An Osprey! I had seen it/one about 10 days previous (will have to check my posts). It performed!!!

Difficult to top that and failed to find any further BS Kites but did get a couple of Hobbies around airport. Failure was put down to ridiculous temperatures - topping 35 is too much for me. It is great for me to get out of the mountains and find some other birds though.
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Old Thursday 22nd June 2017, 11:59   #52
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Another couple of weeks has flown by. Been at a friends on hols for a few days but also up to Le Mans for the 24h race - great event - over 200k people and very very hot! Hit 38c on way home.

Birdwatching been a little limited but got some great views of the Eagle Owl with Duffbirder (and at last he got his Lammergeier!). Speaking of which had the first of this years fliers this morning. A juv with two adults - brilliant.

Other birds included, 3 Honeys, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Griffon (c.35 at one point), Egyptian at least 3, Short toed Eagle, 2 Peregrine, Black and Red Kite - in short a raptor fest... Side cast included Melodious Warbler, Serin and a calling Nightjar from 10.45 for 15mins then off and on until 12.15 when we left.

And all because the road to the Soulor was closed again!

Also since my Osprey day have found a Black shouldered Kite nest!!

Missed out on the Specticled Warbler (was aiming for that today), but big news was a Ruppells Vulture on the Soulor on Monday - I just can't get there in the time I have had!!! It does mean that I now have to check every Griffon just in case.
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 13:32   #53
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The Great Houdini

At last the road to the Soulor is open and first stop Wallcreeper.

I got there about 11.15 and didn't have to wait long - sorry Alan. Its funny it was about 8m away and I hadn't seen it! I very quickly fired off some shots but the angle wasn't very good. I had to turn my head for 5 seconds and I moved to the other side of the road, there is a steep drop so I couldn't 'back' away. The long and the short is I didn't see it again!!!! I wandered up and down for about 45 mins but nothing.

Absolutely incredible that it could be so close but just dissappear! A good supporting cast though Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, both Choughs, constant Crag Martins, 3 Goldcrests and a 'new' Egyptian Vulture nest - with chick.

I did have a longer walk to try and find the Spectacled Warbler but no joy then returned for the Wallcreeper and again no joy!

Picture of Lammy bottom is just for fun - extreme distance!
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 08:35   #54
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Reminds me of one time a few years back (oh, yes, 'old git reminisces' warning). I was coming down the track leading off of the south side of Ordesa canyon, hot and tired and happy. In places the near vertical rock wall almost brushes your shoulder. I paused a moment and a Wallcreeper arrived right next to me: it would have been close enough to touch! A quick wing flick, a beady-eyed look around, and it was gone along the cliffside. No matter that it would have been impossible to photograph - it's one moment that's fixed and as vivid as ever!!
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 13:01   #55
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Reminds me of one time a few years back (oh, yes, 'old git reminisces' warning). I was coming down the track leading off of the south side of Ordesa canyon, hot and tired and happy. In places the near vertical rock wall almost brushes your shoulder. I paused a moment and a Wallcreeper arrived right next to me: it would have been close enough to touch! A quick wing flick, a beady-eyed look around, and it was gone along the cliffside. No matter that it would have been impossible to photograph - it's one moment that's fixed and as vivid as ever!!
Brian
Its not the first time I have seen the bird and it dissappears! I couldn't work out where it would have gone for me not to see it!!

Some shots from the other day and today...
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 13:52   #56
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I forgot to say how much I enjoy your thread! Great shots & great times.
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 16:53   #57
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Thanks Brian!

Now why do I do it? What started out as a nice trip out to see if we could find the Alpine Swifts nest or proof that they are breeding turned into...

The Parcs were keen to find some proof so off to Gavarnie we went. I brought some picnic stuff and we set up scopes on the terrace of the Gavarnie Parc office. Great. After 5 minutes we spotted the first Alpine S. There were three and the closest I've seen to the village. It is just possible that one of them went into the cliff high above the village when the Parcs guy said lets get closer!

I'm sure with a bit more patience we could see from here...

To which he replied he knows a great path and off we set. Me trying to keep up with two mountain goats.

Actually the walk to the cliff was pretty quick but then things got interesting following this path along the cliff which was about 20cms wide with a couple of big drops below. Did I say I didn't like heights? They then decided we should climb up to the cliff as the path wasn't helping us see the cliff - great.

There were some benefits in that we could overlook the Golden Eagle nest and could see the chick albeit through a scope. There were some Crossbills, 8, Crested Tit, Goldcrest, Serin, some Griffon that came within touching distance and some Izzard. We did see the Alpine Swifts but none came close to the cliff as the weather closed in and it started raining!

I have to say that the walk back to the narrow path following the steep end of the cliff was pretty hair-raising. In hindsight I was pleased that I did the walk and it is fair to say that the area was really beautiful but I'm not sure that I would do it again!!

As for proof nothing definitive but that is 5 weeks, at least, in the same place...
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 09:17   #58
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Good, character-building stuff! ;o)
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 08:33   #59
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Thanks Dragnil.

Well true to word or not I went back for some more punishment. This time I took two walking sticks for a bit more confidence. I had planned to go elsewhere but the lure of seeing 3 Alpine Swifts flying across the face of the cliff persuaded me.

Anyway, the walk in is painless until you arrive at the cliff. I edged my way along the path and then found a good viewpoint. Seeing 5 birds was great and on one pass vocal.

Eventually, I got the proof I needed as one bird entered a crevice on the cliff face.

Its funny I have been coming to Gavarnie for a number of years as have others. Could we all have missed these birds. Honestly, I don't think so although its possible. Even when I know where they are it still takes some patience to pick them up. They also can travel big distances so not be around at any given moment. Yes there have been occasional reports, including one at this cliff face. The Parcs guy says he seen them around the ski resort but never late into the breeding season.

Sadly, my pictures are pretty awful...

Funnily enough yesterday at home my daughter came screaming downstairs 'there's a bird in the house'. There was, a Common Swift in the toilet! He couldn't take off the floor so I picked him up and released him outside the restaurant. He had a very good grip with his feet and the wings felt surprisingly 'rigid'.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 11:01   #60
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There were some Crossbills, 8, Crested Tit, Goldcrest, Serin, some Griffon that came within touching distance and some Izzard. We did see the Alpine Swifts but none came close to the cliff as the weather closed in and it started raining!
I always get slightly worried when vultures start taking an interest in my progress...
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 11:36   #61
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With reason! A lady fell off the mountain last year (or maybe 2015) and before she could be 'recovered' the vultures arrived...
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Old Saturday 8th July 2017, 06:54   #62
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Talking of Vultures I thought I would give the Spectacled Warbler another go and seeing as I was awake at silly O'clock I set off. I passed one car en route and it took me a record 37mins to get to the top of the Soulor! I was in situ at 08.07 after walking up from the parking. Nothing! Well I got good numbers of Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Stonechat, a young Rock Thrush and a possible juv Blue Rock Thrush it was very uniform and sort of slate grey while very dark barring (again very uniform) but importantly a very visibly longer bill. It didn't hang around in the panic to get the camera out! I'm not immune to error but it did strike me as that...

Anyway, I decided to head down to Wallcreeper 'dipping' cliff to predictably dip but I got some great views of the Egyptian 'frog' Vulture. Everytime he tried to come near his nest he was heavily mobbed by the, also, resident Kestrels. I decided to scope the second higher cliff. The Kestrels were at it again mobbing a Golden Eagle this time. It was very close but I wasn't close to my camera. I quick marched to get the camera but got distracted by a distant Lammergeier and then a 'dark' Vulture with a Griffon - I had been checking all the Griffons for the Ruppells recently seen and this was certainly dark but a BLACK - I managed to get a couple of record shots (this is 11 years after my last Black in the same place!). I'll settle for that!!
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Old Saturday 8th July 2017, 11:40   #63
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Great shot of the Egyptian Vulture - well worth getting out of bed for!
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Old Monday 10th July 2017, 16:47   #64
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Great shot of the Egyptian Vulture - well worth getting out of bed for!
Didn't feel like it at the time!

Another shot from the Soulor then two Vultures off the Tourmalet after treating the girls to an ice cream...
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Old Monday 10th July 2017, 16:56   #65
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Black Shouldered Kite Day

A chance visit to the airport at Pau brought about some great results. I counted up to 12 Black Shouldered Kites round the airport whilst waiting for a friend.

At the same time went ot Ayguelongue and saw Great White Egret, 3 Black Winged Stilts and 3 Green Sandpipers. On the main lake got a nice 'young' 2cy Hobby and a male Golden Oriole (by the time I had run back to the car the bird had gone) - always nice to see them in the open. A fair number of Turtle Doves purring away. No Night Herons though! A juv Black Headed Gull (yeah we don't get many here) and some bigger young gulls - I suspect Yellow Legged but at that distance I wouldn't want to commit...

Lots of Black Kites on my return - migration has started.

Various 'long' distance pictures of the Kites. But a mixture of adult and juv and some poses including one taking on a plane. It looks like they're taking over.
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Old Tuesday 11th July 2017, 15:32   #66
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And now Wild Boar day.

Well in a very remote wood some scat and then a huge cave that looked like had been inhabited.

Bird wise managed to see the Lammergeier family (still no news on my 'marked' bird) and then an adult from a different pair but otherwise fairly quiet.

The second markings could have been something else but I couldn't find any other evidence...
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Old Tuesday 11th July 2017, 20:14   #67
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Nuts the parc guy says it's a fox!
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Old Wednesday 12th July 2017, 14:37   #68
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Swimming Lessons

Its that time of the year when the kids go to the pool - a lot.

Not such a bad thing as this morning very low over the pool was a nice Short Toed Eagle, a pair of Booted Eagles and then a 2 Egyptian Vultures. Before leaving a Griffon!

Supporting cast of Black Kite, Kestrel, Crag Martin and lots of Swifts (guess they might be leaving soon).

I forgot to mention that heard the Scops Owl the other night walking through town. They might well be close to fledging...
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Old Friday 14th July 2017, 07:41   #69
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This is the subject of a separate thread but the Lammergeier young that I saw in June actually comes from a Spanish, Andalusia, reintroduction scheme and is called Tugia!

The bird has made a fair trip for a non-migratory bird, although for a Lammy I'm sure not too difficult. It was born in captivity in Czech Republic and then released near Malaga in Southern Spain last March. There have been two birds from that scheme in the Pyrenees. Its sad in a way in that they're not settling in their release areas but at least they are surviving.

https://www.facebook.com/14629759542...type=3&theater
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Old Friday 14th July 2017, 08:10   #70
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The release programme in Spain has been going for some time now. I saw a wing-tagged youngster in your area in 2005 and through the BTO discovered the team doing it in Spain and the name of "my" bird although I can't remember it now.
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Old Friday 14th July 2017, 08:11   #71
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These first years are great wanderers, as I recall a couple of years back one of the Swiss marked young went to Austria, Germany, France (up to the Channel coast as well as the Pyrenees). It ended up back in the release area eventually though, so hopefully Tugia will follow suit (I can just picture the sunbathing hordes at Marbella being panicked as it swwops low over the beach checking everyone's still breathing!).
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Old Saturday 15th July 2017, 16:42   #72
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Thanks Dragnil and Richard

You certainly got a lot closer to your bird than I did to mine!! Good work.
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Old Wednesday 19th July 2017, 14:53   #73
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Flav told me he had great views of the Wallcreeper at Gloriettes the other day over a period of about 2 hours - two birds together at one point. The nest has got to be close! If the chicks aren't off the nest its very close so the time to search.

Anyway, the temptation was too much and despite limited time I thought I would give it a bash. As usual the reality of sitting in front of a huge cliff with numerous huge blind spots soon drained most of my enthusiasm.

However, patience did pay off with an extremely high binocular view of a bird under an overhang then gaining a bit of height and flying across the cliff. I kept on the bird until it landed and then transferred to the scope. As usual not to be seen again! I ran out of time but I probably can get back one more time before too late.

News from the Pas d'Aspe pair is that the chicks are still in the nest but the female has disappeared! The male is bravely continuing on his own - fingers crossed.
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Old Thursday 20th July 2017, 07:22   #74
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Old Saturday 22nd July 2017, 10:00   #75
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FOUND IT!

Ok, not me but Flav yesterday found the Wallcreeper nest at Gloriettes (TWM might remember the cliff!). This has been our suspicion for some years but it seems we have been a fraction out with our compass - although we had been picking our way along in this direction. It is below pretty much where I saw the bird, in the distance, the other day. It does add 10 minutes to the walk....

Whilst he could hear the birds in the nest it is too far for a decent photo, I guess by his standards. I can't get there today and tomorrow is now looking iffy, Monday definately out arrghhhh. They will be away very shortly. Why does it have to be busy season!!!!! The frequency of visit ranged from 5mins to 40mins with both adults now feeding and removing sacks....

I think I had talked about this before but there has always been an assumption that these birds nest really high and during July and August but after watching the brilliant 'like a butterfly' film last year (and also finding a nest on the Soulor last year) we lowered our search areas to places where we had records during the end April and May periods. So we have one nest and two territories from one springs work - brilliant.
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