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Another great day in the Pyrenees 2018

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Old Friday 4th May 2018, 09:36   #26
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Nice little walk this morning with Bo.

Started, immediately, with a male Cirl Bunting and further down the road 3 Rock Buntings. Always great to see and very attractive!

I could hear a Short toed treecreeper but couldn't locate it until he finally gave himself up. This was followed by a pair of Nuthatch, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Kestrel overhead and a Great Spotted Woody. Not the heights of the Wallcreeper or such like but all nice to see.

Back at the car I disturbed a Whitethroat - not that 'common' here and finished witht he Cirl Bunting again. Bo was obviously bored, although he did manage to spot the Rock Buntings again, because he decided to fully roll in some cow pooh.

From the car I clocked a nice male Whinchat and a foraging Melodious Warbler.

All of these, Dragnil will be pleased to hear, we were within earshot and or sight of his preferred 'lodgings'.
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Old Saturday 5th May 2018, 17:37   #27
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Sounds good, we've just had a spell in Sicily then the north of Italy so ready for Luz once more. Looking forward to it as always. I'll try to pick up the Wallcreeper at Esnandes on the way!
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Old Saturday 5th May 2018, 21:01   #28
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Should be not far from breeding grounds if not nesting already...

Few red footed falcons in country so you might get lucky there!
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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 14:05   #29
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Speaking of Wallcreeper made a couple of half xxxx attempts of tracking the beast down. Snow levels are such that skis are required for some places so being lazy I left the skis at home at took the scope instead.

Couple of recent reports around Gedre proved unsuccessful although did hear a Bonellis Warbler and saw a large-ish group of grifters - one coming quite close. A Goldie passed overhead.

The second trip was to Gloriettes but scanning the cliffs again proved fruitless. There were a few Wheatears vying for attention but very little else. Did manage a nice party of Izzard - about 12 with 4 young so that was great! They were feeding in the snow line.

Sun has come out and that snow line is going to recede but for the fact that more is forecast...

Last bit of news was hearing a pair of Scops Owls the other night. Both male and female 'dueling' around the corner from the house. Great news as its on the way to the pub...
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Old Saturday 12th May 2018, 13:46   #30
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I'm useless I forgot the Alpine Swifts! 5 of them high above Gavarnie. They look like they will breed again - I think 10 was my high count last spring so maybe 5 pairs with 5 sitting now and 5 flying around... Only an assumption.
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Old Sunday 13th May 2018, 14:39   #31
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Great little walk to today didn't produce many birds but 4 adult Lammergeiers together! Never seen four adults together before so excited!

Other birds pale into insignificance but did see three small parties of Meadow Pipit which we only get on migration here - 8, 3 and 3. Followed by a singing Rock Bunting which I managed to scare away...
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Old Monday 14th May 2018, 17:02   #32
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Raider in the mist....

Very difficult day - cold -2 and snowing, not great visibility. Failed with many birds but were treated to this fellow and also the chick in the nest...
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Old Monday 14th May 2018, 17:51   #33
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Weather forecast is promising - could be good when warmer conditions kick off the breeding season. Hoping for Rock Thrush above Heas and Citril Finch wherever we might find them. It's great to be returning!
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Old Thursday 17th May 2018, 06:47   #34
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The sun has come out! Despite this the 'barrage' was very quiet! I scanned and scanned and scanned the cliffs but couldn't find anything of interest. Finally a Golldie flew over and was met by a young Lammergeier (maybe 2ca) which drifted up and down the slope opposite for a good five minutes.

I decided to continue round the lake and was rewarded with a singing male Rock Thrush. Bearing in mind I had seen one at the bottom of the valley on Tuesday, in the rain, I wasn't too hopeful about finding this fella! A small flock of Alpine choughs (c.80) over the point and an Izzard passed about 20m behind us - pretty quickly when he saw us. Back to the Chough which had mostly dispersed but they were replaced by two Wallcreepers, one flying about 20m above the other. I tracked them virtually the whole length of the cliff until at the other end one dived into the cliff. After spending 20 mins unsuccessfully scanning with the scope we returned to the car... This was the bird that had been requested but only I saw it!

We moved off to Gavarnie and a picnic lunch. Citril Finches have failed to return to their old nest site in the village and I couldn't pick up any Swifts. We headed for the Lammy nest and it was great looking into the nest and seeing the young (albeit through a scope). The Alpine swifts, 7, were picked up but sadly not seen by all and a couple of cracking male and one female Red Backed Shrike - one male busily impaling a beetle in a bush.

One last ditch attempt for Wallcreeper and blimey 2 wallcreepers! They flew out from the cliff in what looked to a territorial battle. One doubled back over our heads and descended, maybe a mile across the valley, the second one disappeared in the other direction - Great!

Birds not numerous but high quality...
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Old Sunday 27th May 2018, 17:08   #35
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Great - found a black shouldered kite nest near Lourdes followed by Rock Sparrow building a nest. Supporting cast Short toed Eagle, Hobby and 99%sure Woodchat - difficult to confuse but was at 140 on dual carriage way....
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Old Saturday 9th June 2018, 07:45   #36
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Funny game birdwatching and what a great leveller the weather can be!

Tuesday Wednesday in cloud and rain Thursday Friday sunshine. So the birds - well the ones I expected to be 'easy' were hard and the ones I expected to be hard were easy! I have 4 preferred spots for Rock Thrush and nothing appeared but fortunately the back up paid off on pretty much the last chance to pick up this bird. I thought while I'm here I'll chance my arm for an Accentor and bang there he was. The latter was a bird that, because of the snow levels, I had written off.

Lammergeier - what can I say, 6 different adults and the chick performing in the nest. Incredible views but at the same time they were absent from two of the areas visited because of the weather. Disaster avoided when the sun came out.

Eagle Owl - a banker but a no show! I'm really starting to worry about this one as that is now 2 weeks where adults or chicks (not seen this year yet) haven't been seen when at this time over the last couple of years they have been daily and during the day.

Citril Finch - after finally finding the birds last week they duly performed all round Gavarnie. Neither group connected last year but this year we had them in two places and amazing views at Gavarnie.

Significant absences for the week Black Wood, Alpine Swift but the significant pluses were the Citril and the Accentor - I think that is 'credit'.

By my reckoning 100 species for the week albeit a couple heard only...
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Old Tuesday 12th June 2018, 14:39   #37
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No sign of weather improving in fact Lourdes is now on flood alert as we are here (albeit we are ok personally).

Scops Owls were out in force a couple of nights ago, despite weather comment, with both male and female calling the other night - not even sure there weren't three birds (but too early for young here).

Sadly, been scouring the cliff for eagle owl and it looks like they have failed. I don't know whether they are capable of trying again? In fact I have set up scope in four different sites including the cliff opposite and looked under every nook and cranny. Yes I know that doesn't mean success but this time last year we were watching the chick on a daily basis and even being fed during the day ie active...
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Old Monday 25th June 2018, 07:18   #38
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Well not a lot of birding as the weather improves and restaurant fills up!

A report of Ruppells Vulture has me searching the skies and double checking every Griffon Vulture. Another of Eleanoras means I will have to scrutinise every Hobby. Two great birds and 2 I would like to see (again for the latter).

A short trip to the Vignemale was partially successful - the first Lammy chick flying around is always great to see. Then while checking the second managed to see two adults huddling together, on the cliff face, about 300m left of the nest. We didn't wait for them to fly but saw another in flight further up the valley.

A couple of stunning and sunning Red Backed Shrikes but no Golden Eagle in evidence.

At Lourdes had a couple of Hoopoes and at Tarbes another two. I found a nest about 10 years ago at Tumulus golf and one was doing a tour around the clubhouse/restaurant. Bo thinks they are great to chase - me less so and girls just keep shouting look its the bird from the night garden...

Great days.
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Old Friday 6th July 2018, 07:12   #39
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Not much to report I'm afraid. Grabbed a couple of days at the coast with the kids before going 'full' time.

Spotted Flycatcher feeding in the garden. Funny how see these only rarely outside of migration and this year a hatfull - including this pair.

2 (from 4) Lammies off the nest so not a bonanza like last year. I think that is about standard this year across the range.

The bear was camera 'trapped' last week above Luz. It seems to be a lot bigger than the last.

Hobby and Black Shouldered Kite seen yesterday. There has been an Eleanoras floating about but I haven't hooked up with it unfortunately. Out of interest there were 9 together at Cendras the other day!

Black Vulture at Bagneres - again not by me but eyes to the skies.

Not long before migration starts, great stuff... I'm aiming for a male Pallid and Lesser Spotted Eagle so not too high...
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Old Wednesday 18th July 2018, 20:37   #40
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Migration has started! Black kites on the move...
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 16:25   #41
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Starsky and Hutch in Luz - Police caught burglars in one of the bike shops who then rammed the police car to knock it out and escaped towards Lourdes - the police fired a volley of bullets at the car but didn't stop it nor the burglars!!!
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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 15:53   #42
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Some prize birds today - starting with the black shouldered kite guarding his nest and culminating with a stunning Egyptian Vulture! Great stuff. Last night made a short tour for the Scops Owl which was happily chirping away behind the church c. midnight. The chicks should be off the nest soon...

Spotted Flycatchers seemingly doing well in the garden.
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Old Monday 23rd July 2018, 07:49   #43
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Starsky and Hutch in Luz - Police caught burglars in one of the bike shops who then rammed the police car to knock it out and escaped towards Lourdes - the police fired a volley of bullets at the car but didn't stop it nor the burglars!!!
A neighbour caught them in the act and scared them off (he got his shotgun out) they then fled but the police didn't catch them in the village - they then set up a road block in Lourdes which the lorry smashed through under a volley of bullets from the police - got away....
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Old Monday 23rd July 2018, 09:31   #44
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A neighbour caught them in the act and scared them off (he got his shotgun out) they then fled but the police didn't catch them in the village - they then set up a road block in Lourdes which the lorry smashed through under a volley of bullets from the police - got away....
Strewth - perhaps we should bring flak jackets in September!
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Old Monday 23rd July 2018, 16:41   #45
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No flak jackets required!

4,400 Black Kites over Soulor yesterday - couple of days bad weather and there was a back log. First Honeys of the season as well (2), one Osprey so far. Looking forward to Wednesday for my trip up there...

Another Hoopoe Saturday in Lourdes whilst having lunch. Great stuff.
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Old Friday 27th July 2018, 07:16   #46
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Made it to the Soulor but the expectation was better than the result. There was a fair bit of cloud cover in the valley so birds were reluctant to migrate. It was a shame because higher up was sunny.It also makes for easy spotting in the sense that birds stand out and there are more features in the sky for locating birds - if that makes sense.

So quiet to begin with with a handful of birds. A positive was the wind direction bringing birds up the valley and close to us. A couple of smaller groups past 30-40 birds - then one big group arrived just getting bigger and bigger - 203 and 63 'my side'. I always get excited with number like this although they can be difficult to count as they weren't passing uniformly!

A couple of Egyptians put in an appearance but none breeding - been a bit of a disaster for the breeding birds this year - I think only two pairs have been successful - add to that failed Golden Eagles, Lammies, our Eagle Owls - it seems the bad weather in May and the beginning of June has a lot to answer for!

Finally a Hobby blasted over or should I say under very close to the ground and very fast hunting - contrary to the above a new pair has set us locally so there are daily sightings - normally rare during breeding season. Also a pair of Short Toed Eagles although again they think these are non-breeders.

Interestingly the Tour de France passes over the Soulor today and there were camping cars everywhere and flags and ofcourse cyclists. Has Froome got anything left to make a move will Dumulin stay close enough to take the time trial and lead on Saturday?
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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 08:25   #47
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Another two weeks of hell - working in the heat which thankfully gave for a couple of days but now back to sunny skies!

Birding has been limited but managed a short walk round the lake and scored a Green Sand, LRP (which with the earlier flooding I though they would have abandoned but there was at least one young bird, Common Sand but little else at the moment.

Then a half day around Gavarnie - we were Lammy hunting but the weather was shocking - after trying all the angles trying to find a break in the cloud - it felt like high was the way to go but it was soup all the way up - finally the cloud lifted just enough to see the cliff and with a little searching I found an adult perched about 50 metres from the nest. He she obliged by moving a bit nearer and then two others passed over. Some I sumising that this is the second year that 3 adults have helped with the nest - it can't be uncommon because the Gedre pair is also a triple - interesting. A brief Short Toed on the way home and a glimpse of a Peregrine but couldn't pick it up. Great morning although had to work for it - it was also so obvious how rusty I am with all the contact calls of the young and the funny noises they were making - the young wheatear almost sounding like Citril Finch! Migration has started with a couple of Whitethroat and seemed to be small flocks of thrushes - too high to identify but surely too early for thrushes?

I should add had the pleasure of spending a morning with a great guy and birder from the Wirral. He was really enthusiastic, despite the really poor conditions, and pretty talented too - it was great to be with someone of that ability albeit a little intimidating! I was just happy that we finally scored with the Lammy(s)...

Finally a trip tp the airport to collect the girls who return after their holidays. I took the dog and wandered around the fields first. RB Shrike and an adult Black Shouldered Kite around nest. Then on the other side an adult and young Black Shouldered Kite awesome! It had to be a little far to be from the nest so maybe there are two nests in the area. Things were rounded off with a couple of Fan Tailed Warblers.

Work should be slowing down in a couple of weeks and I can relax with Dragnil.....

Last edited by rosbifs : Saturday 11th August 2018 at 15:16.
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 07:32   #48
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Relax? Citril Finch - then we'll relax ...
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Old Tuesday 14th August 2018, 14:43   #49
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Citril Finch easy peasy....

Soulor for an hour or so today. Weather not too good but we stayed nr Argeles so took the opportunity to head up. Also I had been suspicious about a Vulture that headed in that direction! I got there to told that a Black Vulture had gone down and was hidden somewhere below the col, hmmm. Anyway, I kept my eye in that direction. A few difficult groups of Black Kite (101 the biggest) could be seen but distant - there was blue sky in the Estaing valley so I guess they were heading that way instead of ours.

There were 2 Egyptian Vultures about and then could see the vultures circling in the opposite direction and coming down on something. Sure enough I picked up the Black Vulture in and amongst them. Great!

This was followed by a Peregrine and a Booted Eagle.

A great way to spend a couple of hours...
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Old Today, 15:16   #50
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Acting on a hunch I decided the lake at Argeles was the place to be today. Weather had been bad for a day or so so would stuff be holed up there. Coincidentely, a friend text to say had I seen the White Storks at Argeles! Spooky. Anyway, I hadn't but they weren't difficult to find 160 of them in a field by the main road. Encouraged that I was in the right place I head in search of some Lesser Kestrels (see last year) and nothing, well not one Kestrel.

I walked across the fields and there perched a top adult Woodchat Shrike with a young bird - great. The same area was teeming with Flycatchers mainly Spotted, a Redstart, Whitethroats, some Melodious Warblers and a couple of young Red Backed Shrikes. I scooted through to the lake but couldn't add to the list although I was fooled by a distant Starling for some time - the water on the lake is really low and I can't help feeling there is now too much cover in the middle for the fringes to be of interest, if that makes sense.

On the way back got some more views of the juv Woodchat and there were actually two! So 3 Woodchats and 2 Red Backs. The white wing patch very small on one - I got a picture of what I thought was the second bird but I'm now thinking wasn't the right one! Anyway, I was really searching for Ortolan, dreaming of a red rumped swallow (got a Sand Martin) and thinking today was a good day for a Wryneck - oh well no such luck...

PS I got 3 adult Black Shouldered Kites the other day with a new place nr Bartres, nearer Lourdes, and another sighting of the Rock Sparrow so happy he is still around!

PSS I have posted the second young which I think I made a mistake when photographing rather than there not being two birds - maybe I'll post elsewhere but I think this is actually one of the Red backs - abit annoying because I didn't get another shot of the second bird...
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