Friday, 3 September 2010

29th August to 2nd September 2010

Woorple, woorple, woorple!

Once again, late afternoon, on our way home after visiting the Chamussay Foullees we see the bee-eaters!
And, yet again they were over a field of lucerne near Gatault [on the D103] just down from our house [about a kilometre].
This time we were part prepared.... we had binos and my camera [but with the standard lens - useless for capturing them.]
We stopped and watched for a while then hurried back to the house to get telephoto lens [and dump our shopping.]
Fortunately, they were still there when we returned.
We spent quite a while watching them wheeling and hovering over the field, swooping up to the electricity lines to eat their catch.
Later that evening they came over our field but it was getting dark by then and they were difficult to see except when they were sillhoueted against the sky.

Bee-eater [Merops apiaster] [French name: Guepier d'Europe]

Then, on the 31st, we saw them again.... same spot!
Rushed back to the house to get the equipment we should have taken on Sunday.... they had stayed!
Spent even longer watching them and got some good pictures.

Bee-eater in flight

They look and sound so strange and tropical with their intense colour and burbling song.
We drove up to Les Richardieres and looked down on them from above...
the farmer came past and asked us if we were watching the guepiers...
he told us that they come through at around this time every year and stay for around three weeks...
fattening up on the insects feeding on the lucerne no doubt.

He also told us they come through in March on their way to their nest sites.

On our way back.... after they'd moved off down the Aigronne valley, we came upon them again... wheeling over the road.  Some were even sitting in the way of the car and seemed reluctant to move!!
Eventually they cleared a way for us to proceed.... and about an hour later came straight over the house!
Then I remembered that I'd noticed another area of lucerne just the other side of the Moulin de Chevarnay... they were probably heading for that.

Lucerne [also planted as Alfalfa]

Yesterday I checked out the lucerne the other side of Moulin de Chevernay... it had been mowed for winter forage!!
But as I was working on our meadow around 8pm [clearing a way to the Blackthorn for their Sloes] Pauline saw them fly over on the way back to the 'roost' area..."They sounded just like a party of schoolkids on the way back from an outing" she wrote in our logbook.

And tonight a large party flew over towards the 'roost' area at around 7:30pm... I went outside to see them but all I could hear was their "worpling".

Bird on a wire
In flight

Really tropical!!
Just a small part of the whole flock

All these can "bee" seen on flickr


Nicole & Alex said...

Great pics, although I have heard them & 'seen' them for real, now I get to really see them!!

Fantastic looking birds!

We just missed them last night, they must have already been passing over your place, better luck next time :D

Susan said...

I am absolutely green! I was too early yesterday, or they have moved on altogether.

Tim said...

I think you might have been too early... as they came over us at around 7:30. The local books say they are breeding in the Wizers-sur-Cruise area... when we first saw them in 2006 they werecoming from that direction and flew from the Croix St.Jourdain [on road between Chaumassay and Etableau] northwards. I think they were heading for the point we saw them on our return [] they move around a bit in the area! Keep looking!! Now we know from the farmer at Les Richardieres that they are regular, we'll keep an eye out earlier next year and bell you if we spot them.