Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A tree in Sauternes

I'm just back from a few days with my sister and her family in Sauternes, a village near Bordeaux in south-west France. It wasn't a birding trip, more a family catch-up trip, but I did spend a little time chilling (literally) by the pool, pointing my big lens at a tree. In this landscape of flat vineyards, trees are few and far between, and a range of local birdlife called in at this one.

Cirl Buntings! These were around in small parties, though they were shy and I didn't manage any very good shots, whenever I saw one there was always a twig or leaf or far too many metres between it and me.

Tree Sparrow. Plenty of these too, along with House Sparrows, though the latter hung around near the houses (appropriately enough) and the Tree Sparrows were more out in the fields.

This was a surprise, though I've done some research since and discovered that Blackcaps do winter in southern France, though whether these are going to be British or eastern European birds, I don't know. This one was certainly as furtive and hard to photograph as your average British Blackcap in summer.

I'd have liked a (much) better look at this, the only Serin that I saw during the stay.

Lots of Starlings were congregating in the next tree along, a larger specimen with room for hundreds of Starlings (and well away from me and my camera) but a few dropped into 'my' tree as well.

When not flocking in the big tree, the Starlings sat along telegraph wires. Here they are keeping company with a few Woodlarks.

One of the local stars is Black Redstart. This one (female? first-winter male?) was hanging around by my sister's veg patch, I also saw it picking the tiny mutant grapes from the vines that cover the house.

The birdlife round here is VERY jumpy and jittery - with good reason, judging by the number of gunshots I heard. The exception to this was the garden 'rouge-gorge', which when not chasing away other birds was posing prettily for my camera.

Other birds? Not a lot, really. Blue and Great Tits and Blackbirds abounded. There were Carrion Crows out in the vineyards, and I clocked several Chaffinches and Goldfinches going over. Heard many Green Woodpeckers, but the only raptor I saw was a single Buzzard. On the last night, I heard the bugling of what sounded like a LOT of Common Cranes, but it was too dark to see anything.

Finally, we had a day in Bordeaux - it rained and I took lots of photos of architecture. The only thing seen that warrants inclusion here was a number of Coypus, around the muddy shore of the Garonne. It was the first time I've photographed (in fact the first time I've properly seen) these hefty aquatic rodents and I took many poor photos (wrong lens, no light), including these two.


Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Sounds like idyllic birding to me , sun , wine and the comfort of a lounger around the pool .
And to get some good species from that comfort , a bonus .

Phil said...

What wouldn't I give for some warm sunshine right now Marianne.
Cirl Buntings look great!
Merry Christmas to you.