7th – 11th November 2016, an interesting, if somewhat frustrating week ! A couple of visits to my local patch produced nothing so I decided to venture a little further afield on Wednesday 9th. Reasonably nice conditions prompted me to visit Le Croisic on the coast, the nearest thing we have to a decent headland around here. Alas it was fairly quiet, nothing around the golf course and surrounding fields and nothing along the rocky coastline. The best from the area was probably this Grey Wagtail which landed in a small pool near the car and it was only on examining the photos on my return home that I realised there were some nice reflections going on here. Not a bird that I see very often here in France unfortunately, certainly not as common as they were back in Ireland.
Mid-afternoon I headed to the saltpans of Guerande and was in the process of chasing up 2 Little Stints when I bumped into my friend Yann Brilland who had been birding further north around La Turballe earlier in the day. As we stood there discussing this and that a Merlin flashed across the road and a Redshank came the other way in a hurry, eventually landing among a group of Black-tailed Godwits in one of the nearby lagoons. We were checking through this flock when I suddenly heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling from somewhere nearby. Looking around there was just one small solitary oak tree on the embankment of the lagoon in front of us so we hurried around to get a closer look. Fortunately Yann managed to get a decent view of it but all I eventually saw was a silhouette moving about in the canopy. Talk about being discreet – this bird took it to new levels ! Still, a nice addition so no complaints really.
The following day around 11am I received a mail to say that a Black-browed Albatross had been seen off Île de Ré in Charente-Maritime at around 10am. And it was apparently heading north-ish. So, about 140 km distance from Le Croisic . . . would it, could it ? A couple of messages to fellow LATT members Yann, Julien and Willy and within an hour or so we were assembled again at Le Croisic sheltering from the 60km winds and staring out to sea. Four hours of seawatching, great passage of auks and Kittiwakes, a couple of Red-throated Divers, 1 Sooty Shearwater and a few Stormies but Mr. Albert Ross didn’t join the party. Oh well, it was worth a try.
Willy, Yann and Julien at Le Croisic . . . note the lack of very, very large, long-winged birds !