It's been a busy few weeks. Last weekend I travelled to Orleans, France - 6 hours south of Boulogne- to deliver some possessions to my brother and his family living out there. The ferry trip was exciting with some great birds including over hundred gannets, a harbour porpoise, 4 great skuas and over 300 cormorants stood on a metal platform! The fields along the journey were very bland - huge expanses of monotonous, open country, rather like parts of East Anglia. There were few birds, although one field had around 8 brown hares chasing each other. In the suburbs south of Orleans I found a female lesser spotted woodpecker - a real highlight, while lots of sparrows were inhabiting a bush nearby. The ferry back was just as interesting with Mediterranean gulls on the lamp posts at the hypermarket and more in the port. Over 10,000 herring gulls were loafing around while over 100 starlings came to roost on the nearby cranes. At least four black-necked grebes were diving in the port and as we left I put my binoculars up, revealing over 100 great crested grebes sitting on the sea just out of Boulogne.
This Saturday I was tutoring a friend and we went down to Bowling Green Marsh to develop more bird ID skills and try out some survey work. The sounds of the wigeon calling was beautiful and the hedges were alive with robins, dunnocks, goldfinches and greenfinches. A weasel even joined in the fun and came too and fro on a log by the lane. On the mud black-tailed godwits gave out their quivering calls while some avocets fed nearby - close enough for a few nice photos.
Later, I was giving commentary on the RSPB's avocet cruise with Charles Martin. It was a full boat with over 100 people, gorgeous sunshine and plenty of wildlife. Highlights included 3, yes 3 great northern divers, 2 black-necked grebes, a grey seal, lots of avocets, a goosander, a tufted duck and the usual shags, gulls and mergansers.