Warm, dry, sunny, light airs - At 0300hrs, with a full moon dipping down in a star-studded sky, a steady trickle of Redwings passed over the cottage heading east. However, this morning together with CP, MH and PB we caught the 0545hr shuttle for a days birding in northern France.
Cap Griz-Nez - A two hour seawatch from the viewpoint in flat calm weather proved most worthwhile with a steady passage of seabirds up-Channel. The highlight was just over 200 Red-throated Divers, followed by as least as many Gannets, Brents, Kittiwakes and Common Scoters, plus 30 Fulmars, a Garganey, 6 Mergansers, 6 Curlews, 50 Little Gulls, 2 Med Gulls, 20 Sandwich Terns and a Razorbill. On the sea there were plenty of Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants and a Grey Seal offshore.
On the scrub land around the headland Yellowhammers and Mipits were plentiful, plus a scattering of Skylarks, alba wagtails, Rock Pipit, Wrens, Dunnocks, Robins, Stonechats, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, corvids, Chaffinches, Linnets, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.
En-route to Guines Grey Partridge, displaying Lapwings and 4 Corn Buntings noted.
Guines - A mid-morning session in the forest delivered the following combined highlights: singing Chiffchaffs and Short-toed Treecreepers along with 3 Marsh Tits, 2 Hawfinches and a Siskin, plus Buzzards, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Goldcrests, Jay, Mistle Thrush, Yellowhammer and Green Woodpecker. The rides were full of early woodland flowers such as celandines, plus a number of brimstone butterflies.
Moving onto the nearby marsh a circuit of the boardwalk produced Kingfisher, Water Rail, Cetti`s Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great White Egret, Egyptian Goose, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and White Wagtail.
Oye-Plage - The afternoon was spent on the coast to the east of Calais birding the coastal lagoons. From the double-decker hide the main lagoon was awash with water and packed out with hundreds of wildfowl. Five Garganeys were the undoubted highlights, followed by 30 Pintails and plenty of Teal, Wigeon, Shelducks, Shovelers, Mallards and Gadwalls: infact a feast of dabbling ducks. Also of note 50 Golden Plovers, 20 Snipe, Redshank, Little Egret and Kestrel. Further along the lane 2 Spoobills, 2 Black-necked Grebes and 70 Avocets were additions to more of the above dabbling ducks.
We finished off on the beach where Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Reed Bunting were added to a combined day list of 100 species.
In summary a cracking birding day, in a sunny Pas-de Calais, in fine company with plenty of jokes and anecdotes along the way, and special thanks to CP for driving.