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Where to go in July and when to go to Ouessant? (1 Viewer)

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Hi folks!

I am fully aware that making a thread for myself like this is lazy, but it's also convenient! Feel free to bash me for it - preferably using links to already existing answers as a proof of your point :) Or you can just bash me even freelier (my spellcheck doesn't like that, but what is the alternative? freerly?) for combining several questions in one....

1.

So here we are - the travel in Europe is "starting to open" in the most useless season possible - for some reason, everyone is head over heels to facilitate "summer vacations", a concept I have never come to understand, because summer, namely July and August, is a season which splits Europe into two equally horrible parts: one flooded with insufferable heat and the other one with similarly pleasant hordes of mosquitoes - and neither really thriving with birds or any other wildlife for that matter. But we are both gonna be fully vaccinated and done with the most pressing work (and with packing and moving to Prague) around the beginning of July, so what to do? Ideally, we would like to go for birds, mammals, herps or frankly anything that moves these days :) But most of Europe doesn't seem very appealing in July for anything. I was originally thinking of Iceland, but finding out that Harlequin ducks leave in June to molt on sea was a huge downer regarding that ... (Iceland is tricky overall - the ducks - and perhaps also the Goldeneyes - require May/June, but Storm-petrels are mostly seen from July on and for any rarer Shearwaters (Great and Sooty mostly) it seems that the time is even later).

Are there feasible destinations outside of Europe? I would like to note though that as a Czech citizen, I am legally (well, in my humble opinion illegally, but that's another debate) forbidden from traveling to: Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, India, SAR, Kenya, Colombia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mosambique, Peru, Tanzania, Zambie and Zimbabwe "due to the risk of bringing back covid variants". I was quite thinking about Costa Rica, July could be great season for that, but the covid situation is getting worse there and "measures" (including completely silly ones such as selected registration plates forbidden from driving on selected days) are being increased there, which makes it a bit less appealing (and also a bit risky in terms of getting added to that list above).

2.

We have friends in France, who are somewhat into birding, but bigly into rockpooling and ocean, so we started talking about doing something like Ouessant later in the year, because it nicely connects the two ideas. Of course, "going for rarities" can always be hit or miss, but even the misses lately, we found out to be quite enjoyable - the question is, what is a good season for that? We would be more interested in "yanks" than "sibes", considering we get a fair those of the latter here in Poland (and yes, we are moving away, but we are also already working on moving back - and we won't be that far anyway in the meantime). If the answer is, as I fear, "October", isn't the weather dreadful? Or is there some other better option that's not terribly far for them from Paris? Inspired by last year's observations by some Spanish birders, I was considering the northern shore of Spain - I am following Dani Lopez Velasco on FB and he got what would be something like 7 lifers for me in one sitting on Estaca de Bares at the end of August - but it's pretty far from Paris (and Prague for that matter, but I am more resilient).

On a side note - besides birds, are there also cetaceans in these waters? Does anyone know if they are watchable from Ouessant or around or nearby and when?

I know it's a lot of questions, the only thing I can promise in return in answering any questions you may have about birds and mammals in Poland as I have been somewhat too much looking at those lately due to the lack of other options.

Cheers!
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
1 'More freely'.
2 'Bigly', Trump was roundly mocked for using this word although it apparently does exist.
3 You need to get in to Dragonflies and Butterflies (y)
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
It honestly did not occur to me that "bigly" isn't a normal word. Maybe I should try to listen less to American news :)

3. We are doing exactly that! We just came back from a trip, mostly canoeing, and got our first Common Winter Damselflies, as well as a Green Hairstreak ... and another beautiful butterfly which turned out to actually be a moth (Argent and Sable). Yeah, those things are well adapted for the warmest parts of the year will - the problem is that we aren't!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
If you want somewhere to travel that hasn't made any new ifs, thens or buts, I'd say to try Ecuador? The country is mostly open, if you want to go really budget friendly you can just get a car and go camping, and it can give you many birds, herps and butterflies that are exclusive to the Andes, plus you can try your luck in finding an Olinguito in the cloud forest or Spectacled Bear in the Andes if you want a cool mammal or two?
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
He likes to say "big league" , it sounds like "bigly" and he's so incoherent that some people were genuinely confused, but not many. It's just a tongue-in-cheek joke and a stand-in for his many verbal tics and atrocious grammar.

Back on topic: Ouessant has North Atlantic island weather. Go in July or August and you'll be likely to see the sun, probably even for several hours at a time. Some info in English: Ushant climate: weather by month, temperature, precipitation, when to go Wind not shown there, but it's pretty much always breezy.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
If you want somewhere to travel that hasn't made any new ifs, thens or buts, I'd say to try Ecuador? The country is mostly open, if you want to go really budget friendly you can just get a car and go camping, and it can give you many birds, herps and butterflies that are exclusive to the Andes, plus you can try your luck in finding an Olinguito in the cloud forest or Spectacled Bear in the Andes if you want a cool mammal or two?

I have read about Ecuador that you need to wear a mask everywhere and people are being fined even for driving alone in a car without a mask. I wonder how accurate this is? I would definitely not want to go to place with such insane policies - especially in the tropics!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I have read about Ecuador that you need to wear a mask everywhere and people are being fined even for driving alone in a car without a mask. I wonder how accurate this is? I would definitely not want to go to place with such insane policies - especially in the tropics!
The US Embassy lists that there are curfews and non-complying with wearing masks can lead to fines, but they don't get into the specifics of it: COVID-19 Information | U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador

To be fair, this year I'm staying mostly in the US myself except for a weekend trip to Mexico, which doesn't have any limitations but it's a question of do you want to go there? Most of the Yucatan peninsula is considered safe(-ish) by the US Embassy.

Next year though, I am definitely hitting the South America, I was planning a trip to Northern Ecuador, but recently I was given a chance for a surprisingly budget friendly (in comparison to big name tour companies) for Guyana, so maybe I'll be going there? The local guide confirmed me that there's a Harpy nest that will have a hatchling next year along with views of other icons of the Neotropics like Hoatzin, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock and Capuchinbird.
 

DMW

Well-known member
I'm in the same position. All the places I want to go don't want me, and I don't want to go to the places that do want me.
One option is Madeira, well actually 2 options if you include the Azores. July is a good time to go for seabirds, and of course there are cetaceans too.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Oh, and yes, October is the best time for vagrants on Ouessant, and yes, the weather probably will be horrible 😁
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I'm in the same position. All the places I want to go don't want me, and I don't want to go to the places that do want me.
One option is Madeira, well actually 2 options if you include the Azores. July is a good time to go for seabirds, and of course there are cetaceans too.

Is that so? I have a note in my "wishlist" that says "Madeira in August" and I think it's based on some e-bird searches for seabirds. But my August is a little bit full this year possibly - if July was good for Madeira, that would be spot on as a recommendation!
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Is that so? I have a note in my "wishlist" that says "Madeira in August" and I think it's based on some e-bird searches for seabirds. But my August is a little bit full this year possibly - if July was good for Madeira, that would be spot on as a recommendation!
Madeira pelagic birding is on my bucket list too, but I think you need to book quickly - according to the website there are only 2 groups of dates still available in July: zinos_petrel_pelagic_expedition.html
 

DMW

Well-known member
Is that so? I have a note in my "wishlist" that says "Madeira in August" and I think it's based on some e-bird searches for seabirds. But my August is a little bit full this year possibly - if July was good for Madeira, that would be spot on as a recommendation!
Don't quote me on this, but I don't think there's much difference between July and August as far as the breeding seabirds are concerned. I guess there's more chance of seeing migrant seabirds in August.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Does anyone know whether the broad mask requirements on Madeira also apply for outside decks of the boats? Most of the information in this aspect I found is quite generic. We would probably not go for the Madeira Pelagic, as that's just too expensive, but probably still want to do some random boat trips around (that can be bought quite cheaply), but having to wear a mask the entire day would likely just spoil the experience altogether ...
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Does anyone know whether the broad mask requirements on Madeira also apply for outside decks of the boats? Most of the information in this aspect I found is quite generic. We would probably not go for the Madeira Pelagic, as that's just too expensive, but probably still want to do some random boat trips around (that can be bought quite cheaply), but having to wear a mask the entire day would likely just spoil the experience altogether ...
When I was in Portugal in July 2020 mask wearing was compulsory on the public ferries making short journeys across to outer barrier islands on the Ria Formosa. In my experience mask wearing was more prevalent in Portugal compared to both UK and Netherlands at that time, but I can't comment on current status, which may have changed significantly as more evidence has been gathered on lack of outdoor transmission.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
After much deliberation, we decided to go to Costa Rica from July 10 (if the favorable air tickets don't get sold out before our friend who wants to come with us has time to join us in buying them). Costa Rica seems to have passed the peak of the latest wave. They have some restrictions in place, but masks are not compulsory outdoors (unlike, sadly, the vast majority of the world) and the silly day-of-the-week driving restrictions based on number plates (which can't have any serious effect) do not apply to rental cars. They will charge us extra for "covid quarantine insurance" even though we will be all fully vaccinated by then, but otherwise it's by far the most welcoming country to tourists in the entire tropics right now - no tests, no nothing. And it looks properly great for wildlife - both birds and mammals and it also seems to allow a lot of independent exploration. The only downside is 5 days of quarantine upon return - which we have brought upon ourselves by stupidly moving to the Czech Republic to early, because if we were returning to Poland, we would have no such problem as fully vaccinated people. Did I ever mention how much I hate the country I was born in? I probably did, right ....

I have to say, that planning the trip to Costa Rica, I realized how my interests changed in the last years - and it has led me to an interesting position. Because previously, when we traveled to tropical destinations, we would usually not prepare any targets and sites, betting on the fact that almost everything will be new anyway and that there are usually good birds in any good habitat. Then I got more into listing and started doing this kind of preparation for our WP trips and I was pretty sure I would finally do a "big list" trip to the tropics as well - but before I could do such thing, I became a bit bored with this approach. So I am now a birder going to Costa Rica, possibly the birdingi-est country of the world, without any particular birding plan. Instead, we are gonna mainly just look for nice nature and the itinerary will probably be more dictated by mammals than anything else. Well, we may make an exception for a few bird species, most likely at least Sunbittern, which seems to be absurdly easy there compared to the Amazon.

We have also decided to to go to Ouessant at the end of August - there probably won't be any rarities, but our friends who currently live in Paris really want to go for something like that, but prefferably in some less dire weather. Maybe we'll come across something newsworthy anyway :) Or maybe not, but France looks somewhat reasonable, with outdoors masks currently only in very busy areas and we really want to do something with those friends, as they are some of the only people I can actually stand.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Good luck, Jan! In Costa Rica there is a perfect Lawson's site guide, and you can book hotels via booking.com as you go. Everything is heavily tuned to American tourists, but you can explore on your own, too. And this is a country which managed to have even more annoying traffic jams in cross-country travel than Poland. You will like the quetzals!
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
Good luck, Jan! In Costa Rica there is a perfect Lawson's site guide, and you can book hotels via booking.com as you go. Everything is heavily tuned to American tourists, but you can explore on your own, too. And this is a country which managed to have even more annoying traffic jams in cross-country travel than Poland. You will like the quetzals!
Sorry, I missed this earlier. Ouessant at the end of August has huge potential for seawatching and waders. I did an early September trip a couple of years ago and the seawatching was terrific by my northern Scottish standards...

Trip report here: Ouessant, 2 - 8th September 2017
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
That is one encouraging report. Manx, Great and Sooty would all be WP ticks for us and you have seen them in plentiful numbers.
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
That is one encouraging report. Manx, Great and Sooty would all be WP ticks for us and you have seen them in plentiful numbers.
I think I might have got lucky with all the great shearwaters, but the Manx and the sooty will be all but guaranteed..
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Perfect! These species keep eluding me for years now. I missed one Sooty in Poland by five months minutes! In the Atlantic it seems much easier :)
 

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