|Credit: Wikipedia Commons|
The first place we visited was the Marais de Duer. Here there are two hides and various pathways leading to them. From where we parked we walked through a mini pine forest and there was a board showing that Black Woodpeckers inhabit this area. This is my most want to see bird, that I have looked for from the Alps to the Pyrenees, in vain! Of course we didn't see one, but almost as good, we saw three Crested Tits - my favourite bird. They were common garden birds visiting our feeders when we lived the other side of France, and we did see a few when we first moved to Chateau Moorhen, but not a one in the last eight years, sadly!
The first hide was a high one with two flights of steps up with a great view over the lagoons. I lugged my dslr around with me just to take landscape shots (and then cursed it for the rest of the day as most of where we visited was flat and I didn't dare leave it in the car). My SX50 superzoom was of course the camera needed to get the bird shots as even a 300mm lens on the dslr is pointless with the birds often being far away.
Just a note - we were very surprised in this first hide to find that all the windows were padlocked shut and we had to shoot through the plastic, which was a nuisance. We then found the same at every single hide, including the ones at the Nature Reserve at Séné. Very annoying, and it also made them rather hot and stuffy instead of nice places to have a good sit down and spend time in. :-(
|View from the tall hide at the Marais de Duer taken with my dslr. |
On the island are the Spoonbills seen in the picture below.
|Not a good shot obviously having seen the distance, |
but it was really cool to see these Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia).
We saw tons of Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) both here and later on in the day, so here are a selection of photos of them! I can't remember when I last saw any, although it must have been around the Med.
In the collage below, top left the bird is tending an egg in the nest which is just a scrape in the ground on the island.
Next stop was the Salines de Lasné. A saline is a an area where salt is made in salt pans, but we couldn't see any sign of this. All the salines looked drained and full of mud, the same for the area given over to oyster farming! There is an island very close to the salines which can be reached at low tide and the inhabitants can drive over during this time.
|View out to the sea within the Gulf. The tide was coming in.|
In terms of water birds there were very few seen here, but the walk along the 'digue' (sea wall) was very interesting for other species. We saw Wheatears, Linnets and for me a very exciting sighting of a Green Hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys rubi). I've only ever seen them 18 years ago in south west France. I wasn't into butterflies back then but who can forget a tiny emerald green butterfly? Unfortunately my photos were rubbish!!
We also saw (and heard!) Zitting Cisticolas and saw a Cattle Egret in a back garden! My photos of the Egret were not very good as it was very distant, but were good enough for a definite ID.
|This is a male Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). |
We saw quite a few of them (or the same bird many times!)
I think they are really handsome birds.
We then moved on to the Nature Reserve at Séné. Here there is a visitor centre, picnic tables, toilets and a rooftop observation centre. If you want to visit their hides you have to pay though, but at €5 a head that was pretty reasonable I thought. By this time it was warming up quite a lot as this area is flat and inland a little bit from the main gulf (near a tidal river) and is sheltered from any cooling breezes from the sea.
|My OH. Why are those viewing holes always at the wrong height?! |
At least this was one place where you can take photos without
annoying plastic windows in front of you!
|There were boardwalks leading to the hides (5 in total) and the blackthorn |
was in blossom, butterflies were about and it was very pleasant
strolling through these sheltered areas.
|Redshank (Tringa totanus)|
The next two collaged photos show the two lifers that we saw that day. (A lifer is a bird (or other species) that you see for the first time).
|Spotted Redshanks (Tringa erythropus).|
|Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa).|
The most common duck was the Shelduck which was at all the sites we visited. In fact there were very few ducks at all, and we only saw a few Mallards which made a nice change!
|Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), a very handsome duck.|
|Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) - the one on the left is a female.|
Lastly, here is a test, dear readers. Who knows what this species is? ;-)
|No prizes for guessing, though. Sorry. :-)|
All in all, a fabulous day out seeing loads of migratory species. We plan to go back next month. I also found a website of the Friends of this nature reserve with a photo list of all species seen at the reserve, including butterflies, insects, spiders and Odonata (dragon and damselflies). They have such an amazing amount of butterfly species spotted here, including various Fritillaries and something I'd never even heard of which is a Mediterranean species, so I'm planning to go back in September too (once the kids are back at school and tourists gone) for the butterfies and Odonata! :-)
Species seen (not including very common birds):
2. Black Winged Stilts
5. Little Egrets
6. Crested Tits
9. Zitting Cisticolas
12. Cattle Egret
14. Black-tailed Godwit
15. Spotted Redshank
17. Whitethroat (my OH saw it, I didn't)
18. Ringed Plover (possible, it was very distant)
Also heard many Cetti's Warblers.