Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ardeches, France

The Pont d'Arc, the Ardeche's most famous landmark...and just down the road from us in the Ardeche Gorges.

Top wildlife sightings so far:

Number 1) Day 5: Watching a plane coming in to land from Sampzon, high above our campsite, we both suddenly spotted a big bird right in front of us as the plane banked away. It was a Bonelli’s Eagle – the signature bird for the Ardeche and the no.1 species I was hoping to see! It filled the binoculars as I watched before going into a stoop and disappearing at speed below the lip of the cliff in front of us. Wow!

Number 2) Day 3: Carole and I spent a few hours on the beach beside the region’s famous Pont d’Arc, the massive stone bridge formation in the Ardeche Gorge. I was watching a few Crag Martins flying to-and-fro in front of the rock wall opposite when they were suddenly joined by 2 large Alpine Swifts for several minutes.

Number 3) Day 5: Late afternoon I spent an absorbing few hours by the River Ardeche alongside the campsite. Highlights included Kingfisher, flypasts by Little Egrets and a Raven, but most exciting was the discovery of several patches of Otter spraint at the far end of the ‘boulder field’, some of them just a few days old….I shall be now be out early morning hoping for a live sighting.

Number 4) Days 1-5: The variety of butterflies, even for this time of year! We’ve seen Swallowtail, Wall, Grayling, Adonis Blue, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Clouded Yellow, Large & Small White (or their equivalents down here) and a number of others that I haven’t identified yet.

Number 5) Days 1-5: A Black Redstart in Bedfordshire results in ‘scopes being thrown over shoulders and birders heading for the site where it’s been seen. Here I’ve seen them in more places than any other bird, both in towns in valleys and in scrub at the top of hills. We saw 3 feeding together on berries today. They’re one of my favourite birds and I hope we see many more over the coming days!

Number 6) Day 5: 2 Great White Egrets noticed flying really high over Roc Sampzon. They looked really dramatic against the blue sky.

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