Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

A week in Provence

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 08:29   #26
Paul Longland
Registered User
 
Paul Longland's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: leicester
Posts: 708
Quote:
Originally Posted by kb57 View Post
I understood that 'white' flamingos were younger birds that hadnt' eaten enough brine shrimps to become pink...certainly the flamingos in the Algarve are thought to be younger non-breeding birds, and they are mostly white. But this doesn't account for your observations, as presumably these were older breeding birds?
My admittedly somewhat hazy memory of the Aigues Mortes flock in 1980 was it was definitely pink...so if the Camargue flamingos are becoming more sedentary (driven by climate change / milder winters?) then they may be getting 'whiter'.
One final point though: is it true brine shrimps form a higher proportion of their diet in Africa compared to southern Europe? I'd have thought in some of the very saline conditions they feed in S. Europe (like commercial saltpans) then brine shrimps would be the main / only thing they'd feed on?

Enjoying your report BTW!
Ou could well be right about the non breeding flamingos. It was just our theory. I believe that they feed on mosquito larva when at point de gau. We did also see them feeding around the salt pans though.
Paul Longland is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 08:33   #27
Paul Longland
Registered User
 
Paul Longland's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: leicester
Posts: 708
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
Great read Paul, you have a very engaging style of writing, really enjoyed it.
Congratulations on what was clearly a really enjoyable trip for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClarkWGriswold View Post
Superb Paul. Really enjoyed.

Rich
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN Andrewes View Post
Sounds like a great trip Paul. Seems nicely paced with some quality birds. Got a taste for foreign birding now?
Thanks all for your kind comments and sticking with it. I will post the final day and summary later today when I have finished my usual Saturday chores.

To answer your question James I am well and truly bitten and we are already speculating on sw Spain for next year!
Paul Longland is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 11:03   #28
Earnest lad
Registered User

 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Lancashire
Posts: 939
When I went to Le Crau (back in 1983) I didn't see the Lesser kestrel or the sandgrouse. However I did see the Roller, Turtle dove, Montagu's harrier, Little bustard, and Stone curlew.
Earnest lad is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 14:09   #29
Paul Longland
Registered User
 
Paul Longland's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: leicester
Posts: 708
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenM View Post
An excellent account Paul!, an area I must visit, I understand that Le Baux is the place to go for Wallcreeper in Winter, specialities all year round.
Yes Ken well worth a visit. Les Baux is indeed reputed to be a good wintering site fro Wallcreeper along with the Pont Du Gard. Les Baux is a funny place. it is an old walled town and you have to pay get into the centre!
Paul Longland is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 15:03   #30
Paul Longland
Registered User
 
Paul Longland's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: leicester
Posts: 708
Day 8 Saturday 18 May 2019

Finally managed to get to end of my report. Its turned out to be a bit of a war and peace effort but there was just so much to see. Once again the weather was on our side and it was a warm if slightly cloudy morning. As we did the usual cleaning of the accommodation and packing the car up we were once again teased by Golden oriole singing in the trees lining the road. despite best efforts we could not catch a glimpse of it. I did espie a small group of Marsh tits in the tree in the garden though.

We were bid Au revoir and Bon Voyage by our hosts and set off. As our original flight at 1640 had been cancelled a couple of weeks before the trip we were not now due to fly out of Marseilles until 20:45 so at least we had a full day to try and mop up a few species that we were missing. We decided it would be best to stick East of the river and so headed for a couple of areas of the Le Crau that we had not visited. We arrived at a site known as La Samatine on the D113 road. There is no public access but you can view from the road. As we checked out some likely looking sparse scrub areas Mark picked out a shrike on top of a small bush. Once he got his scope on it was quickly identified as an Iberian Grey Shrike. Chalk up another lifer for us both. The bird was distant and somewhat silhouetted so we decided to walk along the verge a ways to try and get a closer view from a different angle. As we did so the bird flew off and settled itself on a nearby fence briefly before returning to its original position. I clocked another bird flitting along the fence line which due to its size I took to be a possible Calandra Lark. However this bird then headed towards the same bush where the shrike was stationed and I realised it had long tail. Another Iberian shrike. As soon as it landed our original bird proceeded to hop on board begin mating with it!! The second bird then returned to the fence, flew around a bit and returned for a second go with the male which promptly obliged. This pattern repeated itself several times over the next half an hour or so. Two obviously very happy shrikes and two delighted birders who felt privileged to witness the whole thing. We then drove a few km further along and took the road to Mas de la Jasse. once again this road turns into a private track but we parked up and scanned from a small mound. Once again a couple of birds on the ground got the pulses racing only to turn out to be Red legged Partridges. We did get some ridiculously close views of Stone Curlew here and a couple of nice Rollers.

From here we decided to give La Vigueirat marshes reserve another go and see if any waders had turned up but apart from the usual egrets, herons Ibises and Stilts there was little of note other than a lone Spoonbill and a pair of Gadwall.

With time ticking on we decided to spend our last couple of hours in one last desperate bid for the elusive Bustards and so returned to the Eastern side of Le Crau at the Chemin de Mas Pointu. As we drove down the road we fluked a Wryneck that flashed across the road in front of the car. From the parking area we had a female supalpine warbler and corn bunting.

As we walked the track, with one eye on the time I saw a couple of distant flashes of white. Could it be? Unfortunately it turned to be cattle egret in amongst a flock of sheep. So we were to return without the Little Bustard after all. Indeed the Jammy Wryneck proved to be the last lifer of the trip for me. A small group of Hobby were seen in the distance hawking and a short toed Lark gave us a demonstration of its Characteristic Yo-Yo display flight.

However, as we made our way back to the car park we saw a female common kestrel heading towards us with another bird in hot pursuit. The second, also a female Kestrel suddenly swooped onto the first bird and they locked talons and began spiralling downwards. As we watched the duelling pair suddenly began to completely fill the bins and so it was time for evasive action! With just a couple of metres to spare before they crashed into us the pair separated and flew off in opposite directions, one of them clutching a small lizard in its Talons. A real smash and grab raid. It all happened so fast and we were busy trying not to actually get hit by the Kestrels that it was impossible to tell if the raid was successful or if the the meal was held onto by its original captor but it was an exciting end to our trip.

It was then back to the airport (via the car wash) to book in for our flight home. after a short delay we were off, finally arriving back in Leicester at 02:30hrs via a long tube ride from Heathrow to my London work digs where I had left the car and the M1.

So in all, whilst there were some notable absentees form our trip list such as Short Toed Eagle, Little Bustard, Pintailed Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincole, Eagle Owl and Rock Sparrow did manage to hit a pretty good percentage of our main targets.

In total we clocked up 139 species, including 34 lifers for me and 8 for Mark. Added to that another half dozen heard onlys including Golden Oriole and Quail (Lifers) blue rock thrush, Nightjar, Purple Swamphen and Blue tit. You may laugh at the last one but although we heard one or two we never actually saw one all week. (At least that is one up on Dunnock which we didn't even hear).

So all in all a fantastic trip. This is an area that should be on every birders must do foreign trip list. There is a wide range of habitats within reachable driving distance, fantastic countryside and very friendly people. One word of caution though.. This really is very Rural France, not much English is spoken, some of the roads are narrow and not much more than gravel tracks once you are off the beaten track. Apart from in and around the main towns, shops are few and far between and petrol stations are non existent. That said the facilities at all the main reserves are excellent and very reasonably priced even if some of the hides are not quite what we may be used to.

I most definitely now have the bug for foreign birding trips and we are already talking about the possibility of Spain for next year, although I am certain that I will return to this area again, possibly late winter/early spring when the Little bustards are still flocking and wallcreepers and alpine accentors come down from their mountain breeding grounds.

Thank you all for bearing with me and I hope you have enjoyed my account of this trip. I have enjoyed writing it as it has brought back some very memorable moments.

Au revoir for now

Last edited by Paul Longland : Saturday 25th May 2019 at 15:13.
Paul Longland is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 15:28   #31
foresttwitcher
Registered User

 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: The Chilterns
Posts: 1,680
Nice read, thanks for posting.
__________________
Pete.

Can't see the birds for the trees!
foresttwitcher is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 31st May 2019, 22:59   #32
Birdbrain22
Registered User
 
Birdbrain22's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: NJ
Posts: 1,029
Great trip and great report Paul. Brings back memories of my trip there last year. I hired a guide, since I did not have a clue how to get around, and we hit the Baronies, Le Crau, Mt Ventoux, the Vercor and 2 days in the Camargue. Congrats on all your life birds...I ended up with 117 lifers(127 w/heards only, which I do not personally count) and got most of your misses, but missed some others that you had and should've been relatively easy...but that's birding! I also went at this exact time, so a few weeks after you on the calendar, so many shorebirds had already moved on north.

I agree with you about having the international bird bug now after this trip... so hopefully next year I will be planning either a Spain or Italy trip... but being on this side of the pond considering Central America as well. I definitely want to return here as well, as we missed Wallcreeper and some others... so perhaps a France/Spain trip for me.
__________________
Life list:625-Recent Highlights:Kirtland's Warbler,Bearded Vulture, Egyptian Vulture,Collared Pratincole,Little Bustard,Stone Curlew,Bonelli's Eagle,Bearded Reedling,Long-tailed Tit,Black Phoebe,Gyrfalcon,Boreal Chickadee,Spot-breasted Oriole, Western Spindalis,Thick-billed Vireo, WW Parakeet
Birdbrain22 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Beetle IDs, Provence Tri-Counties Birder Insects, Dragonflies, Arachnids, Beetles & More 5 Monday 26th May 2014 09:50
where to go? Provence? fields13 Birds & Birding 2 Monday 16th April 2012 08:32
Fritillary in Provence for id Andy Hall Butterflies and Moths ID 2 Monday 31st May 2010 20:14
Hi from Provence ollypenrice Say Hello 11 Friday 7th August 2009 07:43
A week in Provence, 21-28 April 2007 Capercaillie71 Vacational Trip Reports 14 Thursday 3rd May 2007 13:08

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.19822311 seconds with 21 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 18:34.