Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunday 4th October: Campsite & Bois de Paiolive

I was over the moon this morning to find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and exploring the Walnut trees just 20m or so from our accommodation! We then drove down to the road to the Bois de Paiolive, a predominantly stunted Oak wood on the thin soils of a limestone plateau where the limestone formations form fascinating shapes.

Here is the Rocher de l’Ours et du Lion. Use your imagination and you can see the Bear on the left grappling with the Lion on the right! It was here that I saw my first Firecrest of the holiday – a real beauty!

This afternoon we spent several hours sat on the small beach by the Ardeche River on the campsite. A soaring Buzzard landed on a cliff-face tree and we watched it for some time. This was the first Buzzard I’ve seen in this area, and I was really pleased because the person in charge of the campsite told me that Buzzards have been the subject of a local re-introduction programme for the last few years after dying out due to the use of pesticides.

Both White and Grey Wagtails flew to and fro down the River. The flightpath of the Jays was perpendicular to this, as they crossed the river, returning with acorns lodged in their bills. A Grey Heron caught and downed a large fish, and a Kingfisher zipped past right in front of our knees! A Little Egret and Yellow-legged Gull patrolled the far bank.

I walked down to the end of the boulders to find that there was no new Otter spraint present. But I did catch up with my 59th bird species of the holiday: a small flock of Linnets were feeding on the seeds between the stones.

Other birds encountered included Chaffinch, Wren, Robin, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mallard.

This evening I used my Crayfish net for the first time, baiting it with half a sardine and dropping it into the river. I also set 4 small mammal traps, though all I’ve caught so far is a Garden Snail – perhaps Hamster food isn’t appreciated by the local rodents!

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