Sailly Bray - 0730hrs - warm, dry and sunny e3, hot later - Spent the day birding with the Romney Marsh Oldies and Pensioners Club (CP, MH, PB & TG) in the Somme area of France, and what a fantastic day it turned out to be The first port of call was the idyllic and bird/flower-rich wet meadows and marshes of Sailly Bray. The first of several pairs of Grey Partridges we were to see today drew a spontaneous round of applause - was this to be the `Bird of the Day`! Almost, but they were quickly usurped by several White-spotted Bluthroats perched atop grass tussocks and low willows, plus a burst of song flight. A distant `reeling` Savi`s Warbler complimented a singing Marsh Warbler, three fly over Black-winged Stilts, Serin and Great White Egret, plus a supporting cast of several Stonechats, Yellow and White Wagtails, 3 Greenshanks, Redshanks, Reed and Corn Buntings, Turtle Doves, Cuckoos, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Cetti`s, Sedge, Garden, Reed and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Jay, Lapwing, Skylark, Mipit and several Brown Hares. Phew, what a place!
Le Crotoy - Roadside pull-ins along the freshwater marshes delivered plenty more goodies including a raucous colony of Black-headed Gulls up to 20 Turtle Doves, 5 Med Gulls, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 2 White Storks, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Little Egret, Wigeon, Garganey and Hobby.
Marquenterre - Hot and full of people here but we soon skirted through the pine wood to overlook the heron colony. In one tree top we had White Stork at the nest with Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Heron, Spoonbill and a Night Heron! Astonishing. Further into the pines a Jay put us onto a Tawny Owl while good views were had of a Crested Tit.
Crecy Forest - On an approach road overlooking a wetland on the forest margin we had a stupendous view of an adult male Honey Buzzard as it twisted and turned, soared and banked and generally showed off above and below us for a full 10 minutes (check out Plodding Birders blog for piccies). Also noted several Common Buzzards and Hobbies. Elsewhere around the forest we had 3 more HB`s, several Common Buzzards, Yellowhammer, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Turtle Doves. A final stop delivered 3 singing Melodious Warblers in an open scrubby area with bramble and broom.
A cracking days birding in great company with the jokes and stories flowing all day. We rattled up 96 species of which the highlights were Honey Buzzards, Bluethroats, Partridges, Crested Tit, Spoonbill, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Night Heron, White Storks, Garganey, Black-winged Stilts, Savi`s, Marsh and Melodious Warblers, Tawny Owl (don`t see `em on the Marsh) and Serin, while we all commented on the large number Turtle Doves seen throughout the day.