Pas-de-Calias - Strong to gale force southerlies all day, rain around midday, followed by sunshine - Went over-the-water today with Ray and Stuart, plus Marshman in the navigators seat, for a days birding around the Calais area.
Guines - 0900hrs - Kicked off in the forest in blustery conditions but soon rattled up plenty of common woodland birds: Nuthatches, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Jays etc followed by 5 Siskins, 6 flyover Hawfinches, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests, Kestrel, Little Egret (flyover) and a Bullfinch. Quality came in the form of 4 Crested Tits which showed extremely well low down in scrub and in song, 6 Short-toed Treecreepers and 4 Marsh Tits. Also, calling Tawny Owl, Reeves Pheasant and roe deer.
We then moved onto a nearby marsh for a good old soaking as the rain came hammering down. Despite the wind and rain we still managed, Cetti`s and Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff from the boardwalk, plus Black Redstart, Reed Bunting, Linnets, Pied Wagtail, Mipits and 2 probable Serins around a nearby farmstead.
Calais Hoverport - 1300hrs - For the second year running we drew a blank with Crested Lark around the old hoverport buildings and all we could find was 3 Wheatears, including one of the Greenland race.
Oye-Plage - 1400hrs Finished the day checking out the coastal lagoons, first from the large hide which yielded 10 Wigeons, 4 Shovelers, 10 Teal, 10 Lapwing, 5 Avocets, 4 Oystercatchers, 4 Gadwall, 4 Dabchicks, 6 Sandwich Terns, Swallow, Mistle Thrush and a Grey Plover. Further east the lagoons from the roadside hide attracted 3 cracking summer plum Black-necked Grebes, 2 LRP`s, 2 Med Gulls, 100 Sandwich Terns, 30 Avocets, Redshank, Shelducks, Wigeons, Teal, 2 Wheatears and Mipits.
As the rain stopped it was back to the beach and the walk out from the restaurant for KPs. Almost immediately we left the car park 4 LRPs were noted on the saltings ( a most unusual sight to see these freshwater waders on the foreshore) along with 10 alba wagtails inlcuding 2 Whites, Mipits and Skylarks. Further on 6 Ringed Plovers on a shingle/seashell ridge added to the tension before we eventually located 6, or rather 3 pairs, of Kentish Plovers out near the tideline. Through the `scope the long-legged, short-stern jizz was immediately apparent as was the rufous nape on the males. I think this is the first time I`ve ever seen all 3 Charadrius plovers on the same beach! Back near the car park in a sea buckthorn thicket we had the surprise of the day with a `reeling` Grasshopper Warbler, plus Blackcaps, Linnets, Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff and a Stonechat.
On the drive back to the motorway 2 brown hares and a male Marsh harrier noted on farmland.
In summary, 86 species were logged, despite the grotty weather, with the highlights undoubtedly the Crested Tits, followed by the KPs, along with a supporting cast of Short-toed creepers, Hawfinches and Gropper.