Guines Marsh - Cool, cloudy, W 3 - It was an early start for a day trip under the water to the Pas-de-Calais with CP, MH and PB. A short drive from the Chunnel terminal and we were soon birding at this superb marsh complete with a circular boardwalk and a variety of wetland habitats ideal for warblers, of which we noted an astonishing 11 species. Fluty Blackcaps and babbling Garden Warblers sang from cover, metronomic Chiffchaffs from tree tops and Cetti`s Warbler from thickets. Reed Warblers chattered, Sedge Warblers sallied forth, Whitethroats scratched from brambles and a lone Willow Warbler delivered a distant cadence; but the best was yet to come on the far side of the circuit.
We were surprised by three early and secretive Marsh Warblers singing their variable songs from deep cover, in complete contrast to a very close and showy Grasshopper Warbler that `reeled` from open reed stems for over half an hour allowing unparallelled scope views, and a few pics too. Further along the trail an Icterine Warbler burst into song, although evaded detection in the dense willows.
Also noted here and at another site nearby: a flyover White Stork, several Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, several Cuckoos and Turtle Doves, Nightingale, Willow Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper, plus Musk Rat, Roe Deer, Brown Hare and a small moth (below) which I think is Common Carpet.
Guines Forest - It was late morning by the time we hit the woodland and things had quietened down a bit on the bird song front, although a male Redstart did show between bursts of singing around its nest site in a barn. We also had brief views of a Honey Buzzard over the canopy, several Common Buzzards, a Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat, Nuthatch and a pair of Grey Partridges in an adjacent field. The floral display around the woodland rides was spectacular with a terrific show of Lady Orchids.
Oye-Plage - Moving onto the coast and the species list for the day rattled along nicely. From the hides highlights included nesting Avocets and Sandwich Terns, seven Spoonbills, Wigeon and White-fronted Goose, a colour ringed Mediterranean Gull, another Gropper, Cuckoo, Whimbrels, Barwits, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Yellow and White Wagtails and three Little Terns.
Our final port of call was the beach where five Kentish Plovers were scattered amongst holidaymakers wandering to and fro. Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Grey Plovers, Turnstone and Dunlin also noted, plus 20 Little Terns along the shoreline, but not yet on their breeding site.
Another superb days birding in the Pas-de-Calais in great company during which we notched up 108 species including 12 species of warblers, and many thanks to Chris for driving.