My timing has always been impeccable and last Sunday was a case in point. I'd booked a space on the Eurotunnel at Folkestone the morning before, only to discover later in the day that the first Elegant Tern had turned up in Britain. Not only that but a Surrey tick Red-footed Falcon was flying around the heathland at Frensham Ponds.
I had planned the day trip across to Calais in the hope of finding some decent birds while everyone else was hoping June would pass by quickly and into autumn.
I'd heard so much about the quality rare birds you can find along the northern French coast, I had to go for a look myself. The one snag was I had never been birding in this part of the world before and had to rely on what proved to be an excellent and reliable site online, http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/france/calaise/calais.htm.
Having dissected the info at length I opted for the Somme region and three sites in particular – Sailly Bray, Crecy Forest and Marquentere.
It only took about an hour to drive to Sailly Bray, and while it is in the middle of nowhere, I actually found it quite easily. The target here was for Bluethroat, as this is apparently one of the best places to find them, Savi's Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Golden Oriole and Blue-headed Wagtail.
A marshland area with tall trees along the track leading off a picnic area and the road alongside the site, it was resplendent with bird song.
|Marsh Warbler or Reed Warbler - not sure which
High up in the blue sky, eight White Stork circled before heading off north, and a female Pied Flycatcher flew into the trees. Definitely an area to come back to with more time.
Marquentere is a well put together reserve, with a visitor's centre, a cafeteria. The reserve itself has plenty of hides and varied habitat.
|Spoonbill at Marquentere
|Spoonbill, White Stork and Cattle Egret at Marquentere
|Cattle Egret coming in to land
|White Stork coming in to land
|White Stork with young
Also seen during the day were a few Crossbill, four Black-winged Stilt, a Common Crane, four Mediterranean Gull and a couple of unidentified waders.