Guines - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - It was an early start as we headed under the water and through the Chunnel for a day birding in northern France with MH, CP and SG. Within twenty minutes of arriving in Calais a short drive brought us to the marshes at Guines, and what a fabulous session we experienced across two locations. The warbler tribe was outstanding with ten species noted including at least eight singing Marsh Warblers, several of which showed extremely well, in contrast to a single skulking Icterine Warbler.
Other highlights included several Cuckoos and Turtle Doves, two Marsh Harriers, Kingfisher, Spotted Flycatcher, Jay, Hobby, Short-toed Treecreeper and a Serin, but top marks went to a pair of Bluethroats collecting food, presumably for juvs nearby, and a stunning male sat atop a willow singing like a good `un for a full ten minutes!
Moving onto the nearby forest a family party of five Hawfinches and Marsh Tits was the highlight. Other goodies in the woods and surrounding area included two Yellow Wagtails, several Yellowhammers and Buzzards, Grey Partridge and a Sparrowhawk.
Oye-Plage - The afternoon was spent on the coast where the beach delivered eight Kentish Plovers, plus a pair with three fluffy chicks, at least 30 Little Terns around the colony, plus 56 Ringed Plovers, Sanderling, Dunlin, Greenshank, Skylarks, Mipits and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Sea Buckthorn.
On the old gravel pits, from the hides, plenty of Little Grebes, Avocets and Lapwings, a Garganey, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Partridge, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Shovelers, Teal, Pochard, feral geese, hirundines, Kestrel, another Kentish Plover, Sandwich and Common Terns, Mediterranean Gulls, 13 Spoonbills, two Black-necked Grebes, Ruff, Redshank and a Little Ringed Plover.
Another memorable day in a foreign field during which time we clocked up 104 species at a leisurely pace, and in the fine company of Mark, Chris and Steve.