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Old Thursday 7th September 2017, 07:49   #101
dragnil
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You leave my bag out of this! A great time at the Soulor but after the low pass of the kites I was in awe of those who, unlike me, were able to find the spots in the blue -and then identify them. Quite an experience, so we fell back on a couple of Lammergeier over Gloriettes yesterday. It's great to be back in this part of the world if only for a couple of weeks.
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Old Thursday 7th September 2017, 07:57   #102
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Sorry Dragnil...

Anyway, last night had 13 Lesser Kestrels so heading back that way now. Had in the region of 50 Whincahts yesterday at Meridian - not a bad count for 3 fields.

Ps does explain not seeing adult males on first day so happy about that.
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Old Thursday 7th September 2017, 12:39   #103
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Dropped down to see Lesser and was joined by J-L.

Lessers still there (didn't get to 13 though) and to our surprise 7 Ortolans! Mixed males, Females and juv.

A very brief view of a shrike - I think it was Woodchat as it was very grey but I could only see its head - that said the bill didn't feel right for Woody.

there were lots of Flycatchers but very little on or around the lake! In the first field got Garden Wrbler, at least 3 Whitethroats, 4 Common Redstarts and more flycatchers.

A couple of Hobbies went over and another Booted Eagle - sombre.

what a great morning...

Allright the pictures aren't great but you rtry getting closer! I did get a really good view of the ortolan when it landed in the stubble in front of me but i daren't drop the bins for the camera...
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Old Tuesday 12th September 2017, 17:51   #104
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Days have involved keeping an eye on the Kestrels and surrounding fields. Delighted that they are still around - 8 this morning and a handful of Ortolan Buntings (11 yesterday).

Some migrants about but cover makes it difficult to keep a track. In previous years they would all flit along the trees around the lake but now the lake has filled in, in the main part, and the bushes and trees grown it is difficult to get close!

Anyway, after spitting that out highlights have been a Tawny Pipit (today very close), and some Yellow Wagtails - one had a very dark head but couldn't get a snap - why? I ran out of battery charge on the camera and the spare was in the car - amateur! To make matters worse I have lost my Sd card - with about half a years photos (some were downloaded)...

Met some other English birders today and showed them the Kestrels, Tawny and then the Ortolan - they missed good views so I left them patrolling the corn.

A very smart ST Eagle on the way home.

This afternoon was and tomorrow is set to be good weather so I can't see things hanging around. I will try and get to the Soulor which theoretically should be stonking!!
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Old Friday 22nd September 2017, 07:46   #105
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The great birding continues.
The Soulor didn't disappoint and*although there are not the numbers of mid-august there is variety. As I arrived after a lazy morning, tennis with the kids, I was greeted by 9 Black Storks, they seemed to take an age to pass but eventually they teamed up with 8 Honey Buzzards and passed together.

The day, however, was dominated by Booted Eagles which got into the 20's with a mix of light and dark phase birds. Intemingled were the Short Toed Eagle, a couple of Black Kite, Hobby, lots Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harriers*and a handful of Osprey. Finally, some more distant Black Stork 5 and 1!

In the week I found a field full (ok 40-50) of yellow Wagtails - most being of continental variety but there were some interesting birds. I have posted elsewhere - one was flavissima that was easy then one very 'frosty' one to coin a birding frontiers phrase and one I suspected Italian but could be thunbergi!

Great fun going through these birds even though, as pointed out elsewhere, there are big variations ....
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Old Friday 22nd September 2017, 18:09   #106
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When birding is hard!

Yesterday had a routine visit for Bo at the vet. This turned into a 8 hour trapse around Argeles and Tarbes for him to see an eye specialist - who then kept Bo to operate! Nightmare.

It did mean that I had 9.30 till 14.00 to walk him and bird. I thought I would go Harrier hunting and in the same areas Black Shouldered Kite but nothing anywhere. I got the car completely and utterly tished up and the dog too - not a good idea when he was going to the eye specialist! Anyway, about the only return for the morning was a Whitethroat and a couple of Ortolans.

The lakes were quiet, there were no Wagtails in the fields and I was running short of ideas!

After leaving Bo I managed another sortie round the airport and still no raptors or Wagtails.

Finally, on the last bend and my last chance saloon I managed to find a Black Shouldered Kite at least....
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Old Saturday 23rd September 2017, 10:04   #107
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€450 lighter - thanks dog! They had to take a thorn which had driven into his eye - will have to try and keep him away from thorn bushes.

The only compensation was a couple of fields full of Wagtails 80+ in the first with a thunbergi and 40+ in the second although couldn't get on to any specific birds once they had landed. No pictures as I had left my SD card in the computer argh!!

A flyby Merlin and Black Shouldered Kite were bonus birds and then a Short Toed Eagle on the way home....
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Old Thursday 28th September 2017, 17:28   #108
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Bo got allowed back into Gavarnie (see previous regarding thorn picked up there) and finally got to see some Citril Finches in the form of 9 at the ski station. This year have really struggled in the sense that times pressures have meant not visiting some of the higher breeding areas and 2ndly a bit blasé after finding two nesting areas in car parks - not repeated this year in either!

I kept Bo in the car although the farmers dog and the farmer didn't seem to bother them.

I tried a couple of haunts for Wallcreeper. One is a restricted access area where I had a distant view at the end of May but apart from one other report they are elusive here. The woods are great around and about and probably have Capercaille which I'm tasked with finding but I just can't!

A Golden Eagle, some Griffon, a Rock Bunting and a couple of Lammergeiers finished the day. Bo unscathed...

Today and metro day. I took Bo to stretch his legs around the lake and airport. There was a large Yellowhammer flock in a ploughed field next to the lake and I managed to find one Ortolan amongst them. So excited about finding these this year. Hopefully (I have seen them before but more by chance) will be a regular place - its probably about 100-150 yrds from where I would normally go!

At the airport was greeted by a hunting then feeding Black Shouldered Kite (pictured with mouse). There is definitely a change in the birds present with a move towards more wintering species. Corn Bunting (away from nesting area and a good few weeks after last 'local' birds), Meadow Pipits, Wheatear and then some local Crested Larks.

On the way home I tried some cow fields for Yellow Wags but none around but did see a distant Short Toed Eagle - got to be close to the last...
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Old Sunday 8th October 2017, 15:46   #109
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AGDITP has been on hols! A few days at Gruissan for some beach, pool, migration and marshlands.

Birding was limited to 'nipping' out before breakfast and odd times of the day. Typically, for me and specifically Gruissan, managed to MISS 2 Spotted Eagles (not identified between Greater or Lesser) - one two hours after I left and the second an hour before I arrived. Worse still the first flew in the direction of our campsite just at the point that I started washing up! Another first was 10 Wild Boar that crossed the road by the 'Roc' and passed in front of the observers - I left at 11.45 and they passed at 11.59...

Anyway, it was good to see the Bonellis Eagles, albeit distant, an odd Booted Eagle, lots of Sparrowhawk + Kestrels, couple of Hobby and a few Short Toed Eagles 5I thought the majority had gone but they are in full swing apparently. No Harriers apart from the ever present Marsh.

Starting with some Bluethroat shots - not to Dragnils standard. The second is funny because it thinks can't see him!!
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Old Monday 9th October 2017, 14:31   #110
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One of the highlights of the holiday was to have 20 Whites Storks coming over the mobile home at telephone wire height 20m. My wife tried to get some photos on the phone but just got her finger! However, I thought I would get my camera ready and that was a good idea. There is little better than sitting on the terrace and watching a little bit of the migration with a glass of Bouscasse Blanc. A Short Toed Eagle laboured against the wind long enough for me to get ready and all the kids to get excited about it.

One of them said its still there pointing to an equally low Peregrine! The Peregrine was really low and consequently looked big (subject to another thread on race). In all my visits here I don't think I have seen a Peregrine but to me it was great.

There was a Black Stork kicking about and then this one put in an appearance. I think the landing could prove interesting...
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 16:32   #111
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Some last pictures from our holidays. All taken from he migration watchpoint.

Sadly, I have no idea when a Pelican is 'tickable'. Every now and then one turns up that gets listed as a real one but the vast majority are free flying or escapes from the African safari park...

The Kestrel is not the same, although in similar pose, to the Kestrel question on a different thread...

No local news as have been decorating and redo-ing the toilets in the restaurant. That said I did walk the dog yesterday and had a cracking Black Woodpecker. He was calling and even drumming! The terrain was very steep so I couldn't get very close but I do have a distant photo to post later...
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 07:57   #112
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The BLack Wood pictures as promised.

Also a couple of older Griffon shots. I had found a new vantage points which seems to get some good flyby opportunities. There was SParrowhawk and Kestrel aswell. I suspect the area has Sardinian Warbler (very rare here) but none were playing.
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Old Tuesday 24th October 2017, 22:10   #113
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Love the Griffon photo's. I've seen them swirling around high in the sky when in the Aude.
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Old Tuesday 24th October 2017, 22:32   #114
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Rosbifs on holidays. Well if you can call it that - I somehow got the short straw and am visiting England to see parents - that isn't the short straw but the fact that I also have 4 children in tow, my own plus two others for travelling - they are visiting their grand parents. The short straw comes from the official form for taking children out of France, when you're not a parent ie the other two, wasn't filled in correctly so at the exact moment I was being told this by French customs I got a picture from the wife and the parents of the other children of them all drinking wine in a beautiful chateau around Bordeaux!! Wrongly the guy let me change the dates, rightly because we could travel, but it wasn't a nice experience.

What was a nice experience, however, was visiting Scarborough castle today in the hope of some migrants. Lots of Thrushes, Blackbirds, Wrens, Dunnocks, a couple of Chiffchaff one of which was very light so I was concentrating on him when another flitted past - 'wing bars', I immediately thought good I haven't seen any 'crests' yet where's the head, that's a super 'super'! Yellow Browed Warbler surely but what do I have to eliminate. I hadn't heard the call and only had a fleeting view.

I relocated to a lower path hoping for better views but got the news out. Typically, I couldn't refind the bird so this is when I started wondering whether I had enough to eliminate other warblers, no crown stripe or yellow rump was one of the candidates. I flicked through my phone for calls but couldn't find Humes, for another. I looked on xeno and could only find Yellow Browed so listened to that - I knew it was two tone but almost immediately, about 60 yards from original sighting, a bird replied. I turned the phone off and heard the call again and again and hang on. I thought perhaps someone is there/here already and taping the bird. No there were two calling birds one in the Sycamore trees about 15 metres in front of me and one about 10 metres above me - so I have two Yellow Browed Warblers but I couldn't see either!

Time was short and the birds wouldn't come together or give themselves out so I had to leave. Really chuffed with those great little fellows but tinged because I had no camera (didn't make the baggage cut) and also didn't get longer views.

I did try later in the day but to no avail although had a really good chat with a local birder...
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Old Wednesday 25th October 2017, 12:43   #115
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Welcome back to Blighty! I also travelled back from France too. I've heard there's now a ton of paperwork to present when taking kids in and out of France, and people being stopped at airports. In the U.K. no official form really exists so it's just a case of getting the other parents written consent I think. Anyways, glad you all got here and you managed bit of birding!
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Old Wednesday 25th October 2017, 23:47   #116
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I think I was lucky - he could have not let them travel.

There is a basic form which is parental consent for leaving the territory. The thing that is odd is there isn't a lot of proof required - copy of passport. Previously it had to be stamped by the mayor. Wish me luck for Friday...
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Old Thursday 26th October 2017, 13:14   #117
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I seem to remember someone saying they had to produce their Livret de Famille at the airport, but i may be remembering this wrong. What i do find odd is that if the child has the same surname then generally no paperwork is asked for, so if the childs parents happen to be unmarried then it can cause issues. Hope all goes well on Friday, i'm sure it will. Give my regards to the Pyrenees; i was in the Quillan/Limoux area in september and i miss that wonderful mountainous landscape... *sigh*
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 08:52   #118
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Everything until the Douane guy asked if they were all my children! Where do you live? France? Do you have the authority letter? Fortunately, his colleague pointed out that we didn't need it as we were coming back not leaving the territory...

East Midlands security was a bit of a farce. One lane open and a lady who was completely unhelpful - particularly as I had 4 kids and people pushing in around us! We must have upset her somehow because one of our baskets came through after 20 other peoples, she deliberately held on to it knowing we would have to wait the other side - charming.

In honesty I think one of the changes I have noticed most about England over the years is the lack of manners, general impatience of people and general rudeness. Ok, mainly related to queue barging, pleases and thankyous but sad as parents seem oblivious to these infractions.

Fortunately, back in our bubble in the Pyrenees where everything is perfect. Black Redstart chirping around the church, some Crag Martins overhead. Trying to decide where to take the dog for his walk - it has to include some sort of rock face to find the 'W' bird...Oh, Crested Lark at Carcasonne airport.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 10:02   #119
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Your comments sum up so clearly why we enjoy our visits to your area so much. If we'd known, 15 or so years ago, what we know now we'd be living in SW France where there seems to be so little stress and driving is actually a pleasure. Stay in the bubble as much as you can ...
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 21:32   #120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnil View Post
Your comments sum up so clearly why we enjoy our visits to your area so much. If we'd known, 15 or so years ago, what we know now we'd be living in SW France where there seems to be so little stress and driving is actually a pleasure. Stay in the bubble as much as you can ...
You would make our lives a pleasure Dragnil!! Not just for the Branston...

Apologies for todays dog walking pictures.

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