Just home from a four night with three days of birding visit to my sister in Picardie. After the seemingly incessant rain of late we struck lucky with the weather. The extremely high pressure (a three hundred year record of 1049.7mb at Heathrow on Tuesday) giving us cold but calm days with a mix of sun, cloud and murk. Each day we set of before dawn starting with a visit to the local boulangerie to collect our breakfasts which consisted of a mix of croissants, pain au raisin and pain au chocolat. On Wednesday we started on the cliffs at Ault where we found Fulmars already preparing to nest. On the sea we counted around one hundred Red-throated Divers along with plenty of Merganser, Gannet and Common Scoter. Next was the Hable D’ault where both of the days target birds were to be looked for. These were Richard’s Pipit of which three had been reported and a single Ferruginous Duck. Despite spending a lot of time searching we didn’t find either but a Water Pipit was some consolation. It was pretty quiet here overall and we only managed twenty-nine species. You may notice in one of the pictures a number of decoy waterfowl. Almost all of the areas we visit are hunted over but the wildlife seems to be able to co-exist with the hunters. The hunters have a lot of power over local policy and often it is only the hunting that has saved the area from the developers. Obviously this is an emotive subject but maybe it is a price worth paying for them to remain intact.
With the tide well out a stop at Cap Hornu was poor for birds but I got to see a local celebrity. A Wild Boar that has made itself at home in a horse field just inland from the beach. It has been here several weeks and appears completely at ease with the many people who come to see it.
We ended the day at Les Renclotures, an area of Salt Marsh and Reed Beds situated between St Valery and Le Crotoy. Again it was pretty quiet but some good birds seen including Bearded Tit, four Marsh and one Hen Harrier, White Stork, Great White and Little Egret along with at least fifty-three Cattle Egret.