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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Central France Campervan Trip (1 Viewer)

Woodchat

Cogito ergo sum
Owing to Covid-19, this is my first venture over the channel in my camper:

Day 1: 21 May 2022

Drive to Newhaven - Red Kites c20 en route.
4 Great Black-backed Gulls with Herrings near Newhaven ferry port.

Newhaven - Dieppe: Gannets, Kittiwakes, Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Overnight stop at Arques la Bataille near Dieppe: Lovely spot next to some small lakes. Tawny Owl heard.

Day 2: 22 May 2022

Arques La Bataille

Awoke to the sound of a Cuckoo and the song of a Garden Warbler. Quite misty and cold out at first but dry. Early morning walk around the lakes revealed the following:

Spotted Flycatcher, Coot, Cuckoo, Garden Warblers (3 or 4), Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaff,
G C Grebes, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Mute Swans
Chaffinches, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeons,
Grey Heron, Cetti's Warbler, Dunnock,
House Sparrow.
 
Day 2 :22 May 2022 Continued:

Drive to Briollay just north of Angers. Didn't stop for any birds en route but noted a few Rooks in a field in amongst other corvids.

Briollay and surrounding areas:

Stayed in the free municipal 'aire', which is excellent and has toilets. The trees nearby had a Spotted Flycatcher and Short-toed Treecreepers.

The grassy meadows around the river Sarthe are alive with birds:

Corncrakes (5 or 6 heard calling in the evening plus a couple in the afternoon too)
Quail (3)
Whinchats (too many to count)
Zitting Cisticolas
Corn Buntings
Blue Headed Wagtails
Grasshopper Warblers (2)
Reed Buntings
1 Yellowhammer singing
1 Curlew in the evening

A Honey Buzzard flew overhead and a Black Kite circled in the distance.

A Golden Oriole called from an extensive stand of popllars. A Tree Pipit was singing from a recently felled / replanted area.

Cattle Egrets along the river plus Grey Herons, Cormorants, Mute Swans, Moorhens, Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler. Other species seen included:

Jay, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Collared Dove, Starlings, loads of Swifts, Swallows and house Martins, Common Buzzard, Skylarks, Kestrels, Blackcap, Mallards, Black-headed Gull, Green Woodpeckers, House Sparrows and Pheasant.

Marsh Frogs being very noisy

Painted lady
Brimstone
Clouded Yellow
 
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Day 3: 23 May 2022

Briollay and surrounding area again

Thunder storm overnight and rain in the morning, in contrast to yesterday's warmth and sunshine. Brightened up in the afternoon. Curlew heard from the camper early morning.

Added the following species:

Common Tern along the river
Melodious Warblers (2)
White Wagtails
Dunnock
Garden Warblers (2)
Hobby
Black Redstart
Stonechat (pair)
2 more Golden Orioles
Common Whitethroat
Chiffchaffs

Red Admiral
 
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A walk along the meadows again this evening trying to dodge the showers.

Much better views of 2 Black Kites
Found a little pool with Coots on it, including several young ones, plus a GC Grebe and 2 Grey Herons. .
10÷ Cattle Egrets
Garden Warbler
Yellowhammer again
3 Corncrakes heard
Grasshopper Warbler
Whinchats, Blue-headed Wags, Zitters, Corn Bunts etc.
 
Day 4: 24 May 2022

Moved on from Briollay this morning, initially towards Saint Remy la Varenne.

Stopped en route in a lay-by overlooking the Loire:

2 Stone Curlew on one of the many sandy islands, 4+ Little Terns, Common Terns
5 Shelduck, Cuckoo, 3 Grey Herons, Little Egret,
Yellow legged Gull, G S Woodpecker
Singing Cirl Bunting, 2 Little Ringed Plover.

Saint Remy La Varenne:

2 Nightingales singing (both showed well)
1 Woodlark singing from the ground near a horse paddock
Good views of Golden Oriole
Melodious Warblers, Black Redstart,
Common Whitethroat, Common Terns,
Little Terns, Little Egrets, Cormorant,
Sand Martin, Cetti's Warbler, Common Buzzards
Cirl Bunting nesting in a Bush, White Wagtails,
LRP's, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Kestrel,
Kingfisher, Jay.

Then on to Montreuil Bellay, where I'm staying in the free municipal 'aire' - lovely setting and toilets nearby. The birding around here is pretty good too - walked up to the grassland areas around Champagne - Meron in the afternoon (probably about 10km circuit):

A stunning Male Montagu's Harrier on the way up. A definite highlight!
A pale Short-toed Eagle was another. Lingered overhead for about 5 minutes.
A Crested Lark perched on an industrial building near a train track.
Serins are very numerous in the semi-urban areas.
Woodlark singing from a small vineyard
Good numbers of Turtle Doves (10+)
4 or 5 Nightingales heard (even close to the city)
Zitting Cisticola, Cirl Buntings, Black Redstart,
Cattle Egrets, Blue headed Wagtails,
Melodious Warblers, Corn Buntings, Skylarks,
White Wagtails, Stonechat, Red Legged Partridge, Stock Doves, Linnets, Kestrel
Common Buzzards, Cetti's Warblers.

A couple of Hares seen too.
 
Interesting reports, thank you. Allowing for the difference in species there, how would you compare the overall biodiversity of the area there to your usual area round Salwarpe? E.g. I can imagine a dawn chorus being so much louder there!
 
Owing to Covid-19, this is my first venture over the channel in my camper:

Day 1: 21 May 2022

Drive to Newhaven - Red Kites c20 en route.
4 Great Black-backed Gulls with Herrings near Newhaven ferry port.

Newhaven - Dieppe: Gannets, Kittiwakes, Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Overnight stop at Arques la Bataille near Dieppe: Lovely spot next to some small lakes. Tawny Owl heard.

Day 2: 22 May 2022

Arques La Bataille

Awoke to the sound of a Cuckoo and the song of a Garden Warbler. Quite misty and cold out at first but dry. Early morning walk around the lakes revealed the following:

Spotted Flycatcher, Coot, Cuckoo, Garden Warblers (3 or 4), Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaff,
G C Grebes, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Mute Swans
Chaffinches, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeons,
Grey Heron, Cetti's Warbler, Dunnock,
House Sparrow.
Very Jealous. Cold and grey here
 
Interesting reports, thank you. Allowing for the difference in species there, how would you compare the overall biodiversity of the area there to your usual area round Salwarpe? E.g. I can imagine a dawn chorus being so much louder there!

Biodiversity generally much higher in most of the places I've been - just the sound of the insects fills the air in many places. No comparison really. Farmland here must be quite similar to how it was in the UK before industrial farming wiped virtually everything out. The warmer climate helps too, I'm sure.
 
Day 5: 25 May 2022

Chilly and misty first thing then warm with sun and variable cloud.

Montreuil Bellay

Tawny Owl heard during the night
Turtle Dove and GS Woodpecker both in the camping area.

It took me over 3 hours this morning to track one down but I finally found a male Little Bustard strutting around, throwing its head back and making a spitting sound.
5 Stone Curlew seen.
Cuckoo first thing at the campsite
3 Nightingales, 10+ Turtle Doves
2 Montagu's Harriers
Female Marsh Harrier
Stonechats, Zitting Cisticolas, Melodious Warblers, Black Redstart, Serin,Collared Doves
Cattle Egret

Hares 5+
2 Rabbits
Red Fox

Tournon Saint Martin and surrounds:

Drove about 100km roughly due east to Tournon Saint Martin where I'm staying in the free 'aire' - a nice spot next to the river Creuse.

Just had a lovely evening stroll down the river, where I was treated to the sights and sounds of a pair of Bee-eaters. They were flying around and perching in dead poplars. Cuckoos (male and female), Nightingales, Jays, Melodious Warbler, Turtle Doves, Stonechat and Cetti's Warblers also along the river,. 2 Grey Wagtails, Moorhen and Mute Swans with 5 Cygnets.

Earlier I eventually saw a singing Firecrest in the car park plus 3 Sand Martins, a Nuthatch and a Grey Wagtail. Swallows, Swifts and House Martins are numerous.

A walk to Neons sur Creuse produced:
4 Red-backed Shrikes (3 males),
2 Hoopoes (1 seen on the side of a road), Woodlark, Black Redstarts, Serin, Corn Buntings,
Yellowhammer, Melodious Warblers, Turtle Doves, Collared Doves, Golden Oriole, Black Kite,
Buzzards, Skylarks, Rooks, Jackdaws,Kestrels
Cirl Bunting, Stonechats, Linnet, GS Woodpecker,
Green Woodpecker, Cetti's Warbler, Grey Heron

A Kingfisher was seen on a short drive further up the river and another male Red-backed Shrike was seen near Vicq sur Gartempe
 
Day 6: 26 May 2022

La Brenne

Singing Firecrest and Cuckoo at Tournon as I packed up this morning. Then drove to about 15km to Le Blanc, where there is a hypermarket, to re-fuel the van and pick up some provisions. From there another 15km to my next stop, 'Les Millots Municipal Campsite' near Rosnay in La Brenne National Park - a beautiful pitch right next to a lake. This is a pay site but, for just under €9 per night you can't grumble and the showers were warm. I plan to use this as a base to explore the area over the next 3 or 4 days.

As I'm typing this from the campsite I can hear a Nightjar churring from a wooded area, Turtle Doves purring, Nightingales singing from the thick hedgerows, a Cuckoo is calling and a Common Tern has just caught a fish in front of me.

Earlier I took a long circular walk from here to Foucault and Blizon Lakes:

5 Purple Herons
5 Whiskered Terns
1 Great White Egret
3 Marsh Harriers
Lots of Red-crested Pochards
Black-winged Stilts
2 Dartford Warblers
4 male Red-backed Shrikes
8 Hoopoes
1 Lesser Whitethroat (must be close to the edge of their range in France here)
Marsh Tit
Reed Warblers
Lapwings, Black Kites, Buzzards, Lots of Nightingales and Turtle Doves, Melodious Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed Tits,
White Wagtails, Cuckoos, Golden Orioles,
Jackdaws, Stonechats, 2 Woodlark, Black Redstart, Cirl Buntings, 3 Tree Pipits,
Corn Buntings, Sedge Warblers, Tufted Ducks
Cattle Egrets, Pochards, GC Grebes, Mute Swans, Blue-headed Wagtails,
Black-headed Gulls, Little grebes,
Coots, Cetti's Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas,
Common Terns, Little Ringed Plovers, Gadwalls,
Common Whitethroats, Canada Geese, Little Egrets, Greylag Goose, Skylarks, Reed Bunting,
Garden Warbler, Grey Herons, Kingfisher,
Yellowhammer, Moorhens, Hobby over at dusk, Song Thrush.

Several Coypu
A dead Beech Marten on the road
A dead Hedgehog near Le Blanc this morning and a dead Red Squirrel on the road near Vicq sur Gartempe yesterday

Butterflies today included Southern White Admiral and Black-veined Whites.
 
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Glad you are doing well. We've had a few similar trips thru France in our campervan. Ile D'Oleron was pretty good, with Scops Owl, Short toed Eagle, Melodious warbler etc. Aires de camping and the relatively quiet roads make it easy, but France is a massive country when driving thru it!

Scotland was also an enjoyable trip, but England can be hard work, especially nearer the coast. I've slept in some less than perfect places when birding East Anglia, and Kent!
 
Day 7: 27/05/22 La Brenne

At the campsite this morning, 3 Cuckoos, Common Tern, Nightingale

Then drove to Cherine nature reserve before returning to the campsite.

10 Spoonbills on a lake near Cherine until gunshots flushed them.
Savi's Warbler
Water Rail
Black-necked Grebe
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Lots of Whiskered Terns
Lots of Purple Herons
Greylags with goslings, Pochards, Lots of Night Heron, Grey Herons, more Turtle Doves and
Nightingales, BW stilts, Cormorants, Zitting Cisticolas (including one perched really close)
Melodious Warblers, Marsh Harriers, Lapwings,
Cuckoos, Golden Orioles, Tufted Ducks, Reed Buntings, Gadwalls, White Wags, BH Wags,
Kingfisher, Cetti's Warblers, RCP's, Sedge Warblers, Tree Pipit, Black Kites, 8 Red backed Shrikes (6m, 2f), Shovelers, Garden Warbler,
more Hoopoes, Jay, Stonechats, 4 GW Egrets,
Little Grebes, Yellowhammer, ST Treecreeper
Nuthatch, Cattle Egrets, Hobby, Com Buntings,
Curlew near Foucault, Pheasants, 2 Mistle Thrushes, Green Woodpecker, Little Egrets,
GS Woodpecker, W Bonellis Warbler heard but not seen in small pine wood, Grasshopper Warbler, Kestrel, Cirl Bunting, Dartford Warbler,
Spotted Flycatcher near the campsite
Nightjars churning around the campsite

Roe Deer near Cherine
Large bats flying around the campsite at dusk
 
Glad you are doing well. We've had a few similar trips thru France in our campervan. Ile D'Oleron was pretty good, with Scops Owl, Short toed Eagle, Melodious warbler etc. Aires de camping and the relatively quiet roads make it easy, but France is a massive country when driving thru it!

Scotland was also an enjoyable trip, but England can be hard work, especially nearer the coast. I've slept in some less than perfect places when birding East Anglia, and Kent!
Cheers Peter. Yes France is big - everywhere takes longer than it looks on the map. Very enjoyable though. Ile D'Oleron sounds good - might go there one day 👍
 
nice trip

Any smaller crakes?
Just Water Rail and Corncrake so far. Do you know any specific sites for Little or Baillon's? I'm guessing they're always going to be difficult in France and seeing them a matter of luck. In the past I've been lucky enough to see both in the UK as well as on trips to Lesvos and Israel. 👍
 
A Golden Oriole was singing at the campsite this morning, as well as the usual Nightingales and Turtle Doves.

Decided to do a ~20km circular walk from the campsite to around Etang de Gabriere and back. Notwithstanding the blisters, it was a very enjoyable ramble. The highlights were 3 Short-toed Eagles (inc 2 together), a pair of Black-necked Grebes and good views of a singing Western Bonelli's Warbler.

82 species recorded as follows:

2 Dartford Warblers, Dunnock, Goldfinches, Melodious Warblers, Stonechats, Hoopoes, Cirl Bunting, Zitting Cisticolas, Common Whitethroats, Nightingales, Starlings, Cattle Egrets, Black-headed Gull, Black Kite, Purple Herons, Cuckoos, Grey Herons, Mallards, Swallows, Magpies, Carrion Crows, Chaffinch, Red-crested Pochards, Tufted Duck, Mute Swans, Common Buzzard, Cormorant, Skylark, 4 Marsh Harriers, Whiskered Terns, White Wagtails, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, 6 Red-backed Shrikes, Jay, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Mute Swans, Coot, Great Crested Grebes, lots of Golden Orioles (including flight views), Reed Warblers, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Chiffchaff, Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Short-toed Treecreeper, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Little Grebe, House Martins, Spotted Flycatchers, Tawny Owl, Marsh Tit, House Sparrows, Black Redstart, Common Tern, Hobby, Greenfinch, Robin, Pochard, Yellow-legged Gull, Sedge Warbler, Little Egret, Night Heron, Yellowhammer, Garden Warbler, Rook, Jackdaw, kestrel, Gadwall, Swifts, singing Firecrest, 2 Black-necked Grebes, Lesser Whitethroat, Nuthatch.
 
Day 9: 29/05

Before I left the Campsite this morning there was a Spotted Flycatcher, a Golden Oriole singing, a Hoopoe calling, a Night Heron landed next to the pond, Nightingale, Turtle Dove and Cuckoo.

I decided to head to Lancosme Forest for some woodland species. The biggest surprise for me was seeing a Black Stork over the Chapel Saint Sulpice in the heart of the forest around midday. It was also good to get a couple of Crested Tits and 4+ Wood Warblers. The species list as follows:

Lancosme Forest

Cuckoos (inc 1 rufous phase), Short toed Trecreeper, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Nuthatch, 3+ Western Bonelli's Warblers, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Crested Tits, Chiffchaff, Chaffinches, 2 Black Kites, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Turtle Dove, Wren, Song Thrush, Jay, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Common Buzzards, Black Stork, singing Firecrest, Blackbird, GreatcTit, Blue Tits..

A kind old gentleman showed me where to see Red Deer - and, sure enough, one showed about 15 minutes later.
Several Southern White Admirals.

I then headed to Luant where there is a free aire (where I'm staying for the night) next to a lake.

L'Etang Duris, Luant:

Cetti's Warbler, Coot, Greylags, White Wagtails, Starlings, Mallard, Reed Warbler, Nightingale, Magpies, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Robin,, Melodious Warbler, Black Kite, Swallows, Blackcaps, BH Gull, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Common Buzzard, Cuckoo, Skylark, Stonechat , Garden Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Golden Oriole, Nuthatch, Turtle Dove, lots of Cattle Egrets, Tufted Duck, Pochard, 7+ Night Herons, Blue-headed Wagtail, Corn Bunting, 3 Little Egrets, 4 Purple Herons, Swift.

Red Admiral
Coypu
 

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