Guines - cool, cloudy, ne 5 - With CP at the wheel we ventured over to Pas-de-Calais for a days birding with Trevor and Janet. The weather was not great, being chilly and very windy but as soon as we crossed the railway line into the forest a Honey Buzzard drifted over; a good start. A circuit of the trees yielded all the usual Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, White Wagtail, Jay, Yellowhammer, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit and the like, plus a family party of Marsh Tits. At least 20 spikes of greater butterfly orchid were noted along the flower-rich rides. On the way out we scanned from the railway bridge where Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Swifts were noted and another brief view of the Honey.
En-route to the wetlands an item of road kill turned out to be a Stone Marten (formerly known as Beech Marten), such a shame as it was a fine specimen.
A circuit of the boardwalk wetlands yielded at least four singing Marsh Warblers, including two cracking males performing in the open. Also noted Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Kestrel, Cuckoo, Little Egrets, Kingfisher, Garden, Cetti`s and Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Reed Bunting, while a mixed party of tits included good views of several Willow Tits, a bird that is presumed extinct in Kent.
Oye-plage - En-route to the coast a pair of Grey Partridges, Lapwings, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and brown hares noted in fields, plus two Black-winged Stilts on the return trip to the tunnel.
The beach was extremely windy with nesting Little Terns and a sitting Kentish Plover hunkered down being shot-blasted by the sand, and Skylark and Mipit on the saltings.
Highlights on the reserve included a pair of Black-necked Grebes, 10 Spoonbills, 100 Avocets, 10 Sandwich and 20 Little Terns, two Curlews, Dunlin, Redshank, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Teal, Wigeon, six Turtle Doves, Cuckoo, Mipit and White Wagtail. Musk rat also seen here.
Another superb day in France where Trevor certainly put his mobility scooter through its paces!
And many thanks to Marshman for driving.
PS: Thanks to David Walker for correctly identifying the dead mustelid as a Stone or Beech Marten and not a Pine Marten. Stone Martens have a white throat patch without any trace of yellow and are found in northern France, whereas the Pine Marten has a yellow/orange front and is absent from the Pas-de-Calais region.