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Another great day in the Pyrenees 2018

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Old Tuesday 3rd April 2018, 13:29   #1
rosbifs
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Another great day in the Pyrenees 2018

About time I kicked this off.

Been a slow start to the year for various reasons but now at the end of the season and fewer time constraints means more birding!

Winter has been limited to short forays rather than extensive birding. A trip to Puydarrieux to watch the evening roost of the Cranes was fantastic. Black Shouldered Kites in the surrounding fields always welcome.

Big news here is
1. A pair of Jackdaws came and sat on the church this morning. Nearest record in 35km down the mountain. So the parcs came to look and check them out.

2. A new, as far as we can tell non-breeding, pair of Lammergeiers over the village. So we are now up to 4 pairs with three managing to stick out the winter on their nests.

3. A new calling Scops Owl in the village on Sunday. That makes 2 definite and I haven't visited the third site. No sign of the Eagle Owl today - again.

4. New site for Cirl Bunting this morning.

5. Still 10/11 Hawfinches in the village.

6. First Short Toed Ealge over the village.

Things beginning to hot up.

Looks like could be a great year!
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Old Friday 6th April 2018, 07:43   #2
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The joy of birdwatching - when Jackdaws are less common than Lammergeiers! Sounds good, fingers crossed for a good spring.
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Old Monday 9th April 2018, 09:16   #3
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Great find.

Whilst washing up I caught a glimpse of a Sylvia Warbler from the window (we overlook the neighbours garden as we don't have one of our own). I immediately thought it was different and rushed to get my bins. I kept thinking its got a moustache so grabbed the camera. I thought Subalpine but the photos showed too much of a white throat then one of the back made me think that it could be or could it be a wet Whitethroat.

A quick birdforum post and Subalpine came back - Great!! So a first for the village for me although there has been breeding in the next valley the last couple of years.

Roll on next find...
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Old Monday 9th April 2018, 14:23   #4
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Gaining momentum...

Subalpine still in neighbours garden this morning but can't see her now.

Trip to Lammy nest produced fantastic adults in flight and then perched about 100 metres above the nest. Great.

Despite searching couldn't find Bouquetin (Spanish Ibex) or Eagle Owl (try again later).
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Old Tuesday 10th April 2018, 13:39   #5
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Hello. We are coming your way around mid-June. We are stopping in the Alpilles and then driving west for the Black-shouldered Kites, then heading into the Pyrenees and crossing into Spain. Could you tell me the general area where the kites can be found? I obviously don't want to know about the nesting sites, but just one area where they are more reliably seen. I have seen them a long time ago in Spain and Portugal, but the rest of my family hasn't. We are still planning our itinerary (we may or may not reach the Atlantic coast), will have our own car and haven't booked any accommodation yet, so don't have any time or place-related constraints. Thanks a lot!
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 07:08   #6
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I'm sure Rosbifs can give you a more detailed answer - but black-shouldered kites are pretty difficult to miss around Pau Airport (Whenever I land there I usually see 2 or 3 while the plane taxis to the terminal). Try along the D716.
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 09:09   #7
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Mr Scholes is right - a good place to see them is the airport at Pau - plus it's easy to find! Drive to the airport but do not go in the main entrance, instead, stay on the main road and turn left at the next roundabout. This will take you to the perimeter fence almost level with the control tower. From here the birds are generally visible and with little risk of disturbance from you.

There are 3 pairs in the vacinity of the airport and one opposite this point - fairly safe as it's in the military camp!

I haven't seen the figures from 2017 yet but I suspect we are getting close to 200 pairs now. Our biggest winter roost here approached 100 birds...
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 10:19   #8
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Wow - where are the winter roosts?
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 10:34   #9
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Up in the Vic en Bigorre area - don't have exact details...
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 11:38   #10
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Some of you might recognise this place...
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 11:58   #11
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Yes, that reminds me of the fruitless hours I spent staring at "the stick" until you told me it was the wrong stick! ;o) We'll try again next month...
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 12:17   #12
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I haven't seen the figures from 2017 yet but I suspect we are getting close to 200 pairs now. Our biggest winter roost here approached 100 birds...
I had no idea they were so numerous in S.France! We've had large roosts down here, but involving 20 ish birds.
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 12:21   #13
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Yes, that reminds me of the fruitless hours I spent staring at "the stick" until you told me it was the wrong stick! ;o) We'll try again next month...
These can sit in plain view and easily be missed, so don't be hard on yourself. I've put them in the scope giving crippling views and folk just can't see them sometimes and then after a long minute go "wow" how couldn't I see that!
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 13:55   #14
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These can sit in plain view and easily be missed, so don't be hard on yourself. I've put them in the scope giving crippling views and folk just can't see them sometimes and then after a long minute go "wow" how couldn't I see that!
My funniest last year was setting up the scope and smiling whilst saying its there. The first person spent a good minute not seeing anything only for it to have gone! On second visit you could see one eye one side of the stick and one eye the other. I think only one was confident at what they were seeing until finally on third visit the bird sat out for all to see!

I found last year that once the chick was fledged (I initially thought earlier) that there was nearly always an adult visible albeit that it sometimes takes some finding.

This stick isn't actually the nest but the male 'hideout'. It's about 5m from the nest but interesting the chicks spend a lot of time here once they start 'roaming'. Can't wait to see how many this year...
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 13:57   #15
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I had no idea they were so numerous in S.France! We've had large roosts down here, but involving 20 ish birds.
I will ask the question for the actual figures but the growth has been exponential. I can't imagine it will be too long before they are breeding at Argeles and Pibeste area (they're very close to Lourdes already) - or is that wishful thinking.
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Old Wednesday 11th April 2018, 16:44   #16
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Thank you all for the information. It certainly looks like we won't be able to miss them!
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Old Thursday 12th April 2018, 14:50   #17
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There are no definite figures but an estimation for 64 + 65 regions of France (Tarbes Lourdes Pau Biarritz corridor) is 150-200 pairs - add regions 32 + 40 then we should be easily into the 200 pairs plus. Fantastic...
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Old Thursday 12th April 2018, 14:57   #18
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Fabulous! They really are a tenacious raptor - in the past they were almost exclusively in large wild habitats in Portugal - mainly grazing woodlands in the Alentejo but nowadays they seem to do well close to humans in what seems like less than ideal habitat.
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 09:05   #19
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One of the reasons for their expansion here is their breeding - up to three broods per year. Can be on the nest as early as March and as late as November. Initially, I was told that they like the heat and they couldn't survive a cold winter! I saw one hunting at 5am but they seem to like hunting at dusk. At the roost, I went to, it was dark and birds were still arriving so like owls they're not afraid of the dark. They did a pellet inspection from the bigger roost and found that 95% of the bones were mice or voles. Running out of facts...

Anyway, I'm happy for their success as I get to see them regularly.
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 20:46   #20
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Thanks - interesting info. Actually, they can go on hunting into the night time, I always remember seeing two different birds in the pitch black hovering near the roadside one evening in the car headlights.
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Old Saturday 14th April 2018, 09:40   #21
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Merde

One Lammy couple given up! The ones I posted the picture of the adults. Did so well to get this far...
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Old Saturday 14th April 2018, 15:37   #22
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lovely couple of hours in the mountains today.

A pass over Sparrowhawk looked to be the highlight of the walk up but then a fly past Lammergeier - I was lining up the camera when Bo started barking and my park friends arrived. I missed the photo and spent the next 5 minutes wondering whether Bo was allowed to be where we were.

Anyway, we spent an hour looking for Ibex but failed - they had seen two lots about 30 mins before. Instead we were treated to a Golden Eagle, a pair of Short Toed Eagles, then a Peregrine and some choughs and Ravens. Fantastic, no noise not much talking just the birds!

On the way back to the car had Rock Bunting, Water Pipit and a very vocal Nuthatch.

I missed my siesta but it was great.
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Old Wednesday 18th April 2018, 17:22   #23
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After all the excitement over Jackdaws, would you like us to bring a couple of dozen Woodpigeons next month?
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Old Saturday 21st April 2018, 07:47   #24
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After all the excitement over Jackdaws, would you like us to bring a couple of dozen Woodpigeons next month?
Looks like they have stayed although not on the church as the Kestrels saw them off. I think they are somewhere round the mayors garden...

Currently in Spain although birdwatching limited. Have clocked a Purple Heron and a very smart male Common Redstart. Went to walk up the Ifach rock but just after half way noticed that children weren't allowed - we had five so had to turn back. I'm pretty sure that I heard a Blue Rock Thrush at the exit of the tunnel. If I'm honest I wasn't comfortable walking after the tunnel so having the kids was a useful excuse.
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Old Thursday 3rd May 2018, 13:40   #25
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Still not a lot of birding! Back from holidays and busy cleaning restaurant to open tomorrow (apart from writing this obviously). Quick trip round airport produced nothing today. No Eagle Owl and no Scops.

Rain and snow!
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