The high pressure system that has given most of Western Europe some glorious early Autumn weather these past few weeks persisted into the first few days of October with 30C sunshine radiating down through trees already shedding their leaves. It was unusual to look up into blue skies and see not a single Swallow or House Martin but as if on cue, come October and they all but disappeared and with their departure Robins continue to stream into the countryside and it was slightly odd to see so many singing in bright sunshine.
Star bird on the 1st was a single Redwing flying over nearby fields and on the same morning an Osprey flew (S) over the village. Small numbers of Song Thrushes have been appearing (and quickly disappearing!) in the hedgerows and along with an increase in Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Yellowhammers in and around the village is visible evidence of the mass North to South movement of small birds at this time of year. Typically I can sit in the back garden at any time of the day, look up, and within 30 mins (I'm a patient man) I'll see a small flock of Chaffinches, Meadow Pipits or Skylarks flying over. Not so typical was a fleeting glimpse of 2 Hawfinches (fleeting glimpse maybe IS typical of this big finch!) down by the river Gartemp on the 7th
Fascinated? If you're a non birder probably not! Ok, well let me try and enthuse …. at the same time as I witness the arrival of birds that choose to over winter here or further South, I continue to see Summer birds hanging on and braving the ever cooling weather or more likely just passing through on their way further South. Fascinating moments of this kind from the first week in October include a male Redstart flitting about a local hedgerow on the 1st , a singing Tree Pipit on the 3rd , a late Whinchat feeding off sunflower heads on the 4th, 5 House Martins speeding south through the rain on the 6th and 3 Swallows overhead and south that seemed to come out of nowhere on a drab Sunday (today) … it might not be the Serengeti but migration is visible and wonderful wherever you are, you just need to keep your eyes open and look up every few minutes!
Been a bit quite on the raptor front all week with little or no passage of note but a Peregrine Falcon on the 8th in local fields and worrying a group of Starlings was believe it or not my first in this country and maybe a passage bird.
As of today I'm still seeing Chiff Chaffs on a daily basis, 2 in the garden today for instance, but not seen a Blackcap since the 7th. Marsh Tits seem to be more apparent and Long Tailed Tits are flocking in ever increasing numbers (had a max of 15 locally). Woodlarks continue to make their presence felt in just about any suitable field and not unusual to record 10 – 20 on a single local walk.
Today I've been tramping around the Camp Militaire nr Montmorillon and apart from the surprising late Swallows mentioned above good sightings included 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Snipe, a single Golden Plover (flying over South) and 45 Lapwings on one of the numerous ponds in the area.
Overall, not a bad week for in and around my local patch here in central France. I look forward to more winter arrivals, especially Common Cranes, more Winter Thrushes, Geese and as ever some local surprises, however I'm back in the UK next week, for a week, so next report will be Franglais!