Jackie and I decided to sell our caravan in Normandie and popped over to clear it out and tidy it up for the sale. But you can't not do a little birding can you? So as we left Poole we had a few Red-breasted Mergansers, Shags, Cormorants, a distant auk species, as we passed Brownsea there were a half dozen Sandwich Terns fishing in the channel. Looking over into the lagoon it was obvious that there was a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit, all in their summer finery, resting out on the middle of the lagoon 800 to a 1000 birds at a guess all readying themselves for their flight back north to Iceland.
|Black-tailed Godwit flock Brownsea Is. Lagoon|
As we passed through the harbour mouth we saw around sixteen Sanderling on Shell bay beach and off the trading bank was a couple of immature Eider. It wasn't until we were quite a bit further out that we saw our first Gannets passing up channel. As is usual when crossing to Cherbourg once you get out over ten miles you see nothing, so it's time to go and grab breakfast and wait until you are approaching the French coast.
As we came into Cherbourg we recorded much the same species of course particularly gulls though there were a few more Common Gulls this side, Cormorants and Shags were the only other species noted. We had plenty of time so we headed along the coast towards Barfleur and Gatteville only adding Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Buzzard, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird and a few singing Chiffchaff, our last bird of the day was a Tawny Owl calling at the campsite.
Monday morning we were packed up and off site heading for Port-en-Bessin and from there we travelled the coast road toward Cherbourg stopping off in a few of our favourite places for birding enroute. We hadn't recorded much until heading across the polder towards Le Grand Veys and Jackie noticed a new site for White Stork with a pair stood statue like on their massive stick nest. Further on we came across two Grey Partridge walking across the road. This is a species we had only recorded once before in Normandie so we were pretty pleased, though unknown to us something even better was instore for us. Continuing on our route towards Utah Beach we took a side road to a favoured spot where often we have our picnic when staying over longer. Looking over towards the Baie du Veys there is a flooded polder field which often holds good numbers of waterfowl. Today was no different we had Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Little Egrets and at least eight Spoonbill, Curlew and Lapwing. There was probably more but we hadn't taken a scope so the smaller waders couldn't be id'ed at the distance we were at.
As we continued our drive back to the main road Jackie spotted a bird of prey resting in a tree close to the road. I had a brief ten second view before we were past, and realised it looked interesting and should be checked out properly. So it was a quick look in the rear mirror, nothing behind, hit the brakes, into reverse, and thinking it's going to be just another buzzard. As we passed it in reverse it took off and I saw a dark upperside with brown carpal bars and a slightly forked tail, I called Black Kite and parked the car and we bailed out binoculars and camera in hand. It perched briefly in another tree a little farther away, before lifting off again and heading off toward Beauguillot and the sea. Before we headed off Jackie noticed why the kite was where it was, it had been feeding on a dead bird carcass which didn't look to appetising to me. We parking in the small car park at Beauguillot and we were out of the car in seconds scanning the sky. I spotted the kite soaring and then it continued it's flight across the flooded polder towards the sea gaining height as it went. Giving up we went into the hide to check out what birds were out on the reserve and saw more of the same wildfowl species already seen, but in better numbers. As we returned to the car I caught sight of a bird of prey and suddenly realised it was the kite flying back towards where we had first saw it. I grabbed the camera and took the most awful shot (above) but it does show it's flat level gliding flight unlike Marsh Harrier and Buzzards shallow V, also a full crop, a Normandie first.
Our journey back to Cherbourg after this wasn't quite the anti-climax we thought it might be as we had another piece of luck. We stopped to have lunch at Grancamp Maisy and as we walk from where we parked the car by the harbour I heard the sweet trilling of a Serin and found it sat on a chimney singing its heart out. It made a real nice finish to a few hours birding and what a way to end 48hrs in Normandie. Roll on our next visit.