Cap Gris-Nez - Cloudy, rain clearing, cool, nw 5 - With the weather lords forecasting a north-westerly blow, together with the Joker, and Marshman at the wheel, we journeyed under the sea to arrive at the seawatching hot spot of Gris-Nez for first light. Spent the morning birding from the platform lookout where a flock of up to 150 Common Scoters were on the sea below throughout the watch, plus up to 100 regular gulls and Cormorants. While most of the seabirds we logged were just offshore there were, literally, thousands of auks, Kitts and Gannets passing west in mid-Channel. Seawatching from the Cap is completly different from sea-level Dunge as you`re looking down on the birds and the light is from behind, making identification much easier.
Virtually the first decent bird through was a cracking close Great Northern Diver, followed by 15 Black-throated and 15 Red-throated Divers throughout the morning along with 30 Pintail, 80 Wigeon, 2 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 5 Brent Geese, 20 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Velvet Scoter, 2 Shelduck, 200 Dunlin, 8 Bonxies, 20 Med Gulls and 8 Little Gulls. While the divers were the highlight of the watch the biggest surprises was a flock of 4 Spoonbills!
Also around the Cap, a flock of c2,000 Starlings in the fields, 50 Chaffinches, 20 Greenfinches, 10 Goldfinches and single figures of Redwing, Fieldfare, Skylark, Peregrine and Kestrel, plus a Grey Seal offshore.
We then spent the afternoon mooching around a few local sites with the fields at Gris-Nez delivering a covey of 5 Grey Partridges and small flocks of Fieldfares, Skylarks and Chaffinches. A small copse near an old gun emplacement harboured a few thrushes, tits, Green Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff.
At Ambleteuse Kingfisher, Sanderling and Rock Pipit were noted and we discovered a good looking wetland reserve separate from the wildfowling lagoons at Tardinghen that held Teal and Dabchick. Driving the lanes back towards Blanc-Nez two small herds of Roe Deer were logged along with up to 10 Brown Hares, plus a flock of 500 Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls.
Another great day in the Pas-de-Calais with plenty of jokes and anecdotes along the way.