Monday, 20 August 2018

Platier d'Oye, Calais, France

Sunday 19 August

All packed and cleared away in Stamford so time to start out on the long journey back to Spain via Belgium.  Arriving early at Dover (as instructed because of the expected queues but nothing about!) was asked if we would like to catch the earlier ferry to Calais rather than Dunkirk at no extra charge so gaining 45 minutes.  With a Spanish plated car had not the heart to inform the very friendly and helpful ticket clerk that we were actually heading east rather than west.  But never mind off we set for Calais with a swell on the Chanel and dense low cloud but, at least, dry.  Whilst aboard the ferry Marieke pointed out that she knew a great little wetland site just outside Calais and with no one awaiting our arrival in Belgium we certainly made use of the opportunity, hence our arrival within thirty minutes of disembarking at the Platier d'Oye.

View of the Platier d'Oye from the large hide
Interesting little site, well much larger during peek migration and at high tide driving the waders inland, to find some interesting and surprising birds with a mist surprising final tally of  thirty species before taking our leave for the long drive up beyond Antwerp towards the Dutch border.  Mainly two groups of Mallard in the far scrape which contained some water but a closer look also revealed both Moorhen and Coot.  To our left a couple of Little Egret and, here I was somewhat surprised, a couple of Cattle Egret feeding at the feet of the Highland Cattle.  Naturally, there was no shortage of Wood Pigeon and also a number of Crows and Magpie feeding on the field.  Shooting presumably restricted judging by the number of Pheasants seen as we searched the fields.  Barn Swallows overhead and then the first of at least three Common Kestrel.  A White Wagtail was working the edges of a ditch when Marieke found the solitary feeding Curlew.  On this occasion just the single Mute Swan but certainly wonderful to watch the Hobby fly past close to our hide.

Mainly Mallards Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos on show
Meanwhile, on the pool behind us, we had House Martins overhead and a good gathering of resting Black-headed Gulls and, using the scope, also located both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Driving east for about 1000m to the next hide we passed another White Wagtail and then discovered that the hide itself had been partly destroyed by a recent fire.  The small pool behind held a few Greylag Geese and a selection of Mallard and hybrid birds suggesting a domestic collection.  On the other hand, we did have a Common Sandpiper working the edge.  Checking out the main water from the damaged hide we found a trio of juvenile Shelduck along with Teal and, on the edge, both another Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover.  In the field beyond we could also see a number of Crow and more Pheasants.  But there was also the sight of another hide so on we drove.

Just the two Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta on site
This third hide gave a better view over the water and fields seen from the previous so confirming a number Greylag Geese plus many Crows.  We then had a flock of Jackdaws fly across and to our right a small flock of feeding Common Starling.  Closer inspection then revealed a number of Lapwing along with about half-dozen resting Cormorant.  Naturally, as we left we also found nearby House Sparrows and Collared Doves with our final species being a number of Rooks above their rookery.  All very interesting but we now had to make our way back to the A16 motorway and a couple of hours driving pocking up an over-flying Grey Heron soon after our departure..

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Pheasant, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow -legged Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow


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