Thursday, 25 March 2010

Just across the Channel

Just across the Channel, at the mouth of Somme estuary, is an extensive area of saltmarsh, reedbeds, lakes and forest. From part of this patchwork a nature reserve has been created, called Marquenterre.

We chose yesterday to take the ferry across from Dover, and it turned out to be a cracking day. Totally overdressed for the 18° C sunny weather, we notched up 78 bird species, plus plenty of brimstone butterflies and a comma and a peacock.

Included in the list were migrants like gargany (12 off), chiffchaffs, willow warbers and sedge warblers, black-tailed godwits, ruff and a little ringed plover. I saw a swallow flash across in front of the car, and my companions were pleased for me. Well done, they said, we wish we had jolly well seen it!

But it was the larger residents of the reserve that really took the breath away - from the first sight of a white stork's nest accompanied by bill-rattling, burping and whistling........ the glimpse of a night heron in its tree, the place is stunning.


Grey Herons and Spoonbills

One of about 40 white storks seen around the reserve

Little egret

Common crane

Finally, two black-necked grebes, in fine breeding plumage, were seen on one of the lakes (photo Reuters/Steve Ray).

The confiding nature of some of the birds on the scrapes closer to the entrance leads to accusations that they are kept there as tourist attractions (the admission fee is nearly a tenner after all) but these soon change to wilder lakes and the estuary itself, which attract obviously wild birds. It's a great place for a visit, and so close.


Greenie said...

Steve ,
That is some day total .
And butterflies as well .
Sounds like a great place , but not 'so close' if you add in another 3/4 hours travelling from here .
Great pictures , especially that super Black-necked Grebe .

Warren Baker said...

so near but yet so far for some of those species. With global warming upon us, maybe we will see a few of them breed here yet ?

Mary said...

Wow..wonderful shots of all of these birds! Love the storks in the nest, and the spoonbills and herons.