This is the 'non' birding holiday with my other half. Well that's not strictly true of course, there are a number of reserves/sites around here within a 70 mile radius of where we are located. I'm amazed that we found a gite so centrally placed for these birds - sheer luck, or, maybe a pointed search in Google helped.
Anyway I have 1 and only 1 target bird, my bogy the bluethroat. The decision was made to visit the Briere marshes and one of the reserves within this massive area of >150 sq miles. We arrived, having remembered the place from a visit some years ago. Sadly on last occasion muggins was ill so didn't take it in properly.
As we walked onto the reserve and the 1/2km walk to the reserve a kestrel was perched up on a post, 2 posts to the right sat a resplendent male bluethroat - result but too far to photograph. I say resplendent, it was well into moult actually. Other birds around were countless sedge and reed warblers, cetti's shouting out from many bushes. I didn't count the marsh harriers we saw but it must have been into double figures. Great white egret and grey heron also around us. A flyover spoonbill was excellent and turtle dove calling away.
As we approached the reserve, having taken about 45mins to walk the 1/2km I could see massive gates, it was closed and only open 1 July to 31 August. A bird reserve closed at the main time!!! A member of staff drove up, wouldn't let us in and said it was budget cuts! Strange that they are spending a fortune upgrading the footpaths and cobbles in many of the village/town squares but a member of staff can't be paid for. the cynic in me would say we as part of the great EU are paying for all the ongoing work and it really is everywhere.
We decided to try another area and drove into the marsh of a place called Fedrun island passing a field with >50 cattle egrets, grey herons and a sacred ibis. After a superb and leisurely lunch moved onto another reserve, this was manned but was also a commercial enterprise with boat trips. Here we had the terns with whiskered and white-winged blacks around, plus more sacred ibis.
Within the general area where we are staying there seem to be cuckoo's everywhere along with blackcaps and garden warblers. Chiffchaffs also seem to be in every tree. Also turtle dove close by but can't find it. Hirundines are everywhere in great numbers.
On walk back, in same area as male bluethroat, we found this immature.
Aside from the birding having serious trouble with the vino de memory loss. Its cheap and good so the temptation is to drink more! Luckily these days I do not get serious hangovers, just mild headache and that's not surprising after 3 bottles of wine!!!