Thursday, 8 March 2012

Gadwalling around... More from a Grand Day Out

Reed at the Étang Ricot
From Rosnay we drove back towards the Maison de la Nature and the Cherine Nature Reserve [part is also hunted over... this is France!]. A lot of management work has been undertaken in the last couple of years, cutting down an overgrowth of scrub and clearing space into the reserve and this has improved the view considerably... whether or not it was for the hunters or the wildlife, it helps both!

If you are coming from the direction on the Maison du Parc there is, at the bend just before the entrance to le parking for the 'original' hide overlooking Étang Ricot a point where you can pull off the road. This overlooks the Étang de Monmélier, opposite the bulk of the Cherine. The bank of the étang rises quite steeply away from the road to a flat area overlooking the water or, sometimes, mudflat if the lake has been drained.
This is a fabulous spot for a bit of "birding"... we've watched Stilt, Whiskered Terns , Purple Herons and deer at this spot... and the new clearance work gives you a very good view over some of the reed beds and clear water that can't be seen from the hide on the Étang Ricot... look out for harriers working the reed beds.
Étang de Monmélier didn't disappoint on our "Grand Day Out" either.
There were two large groups of Greylag geese in the distance, and we heard, then saw, Wigeon [Anas penelope] Canard siffleur - the whistling duck... there were Shoveler [Anas clypeata] Canard souchet, Pochard [Aythya ferina] Fuligule milouin and Teal [Anas crecca] Sarcelle d'hiver... but the sighting that excited me the most were some Pintail [Anas acuta] Canard pilet [here is a link to a super picture taken in the Brenne]**... my best sighting for around twenty years... they were hidden in the reed when on the water, but were flying around quite a bit; the male looking quite spectacular in the low angle,  harsh, golden sunlight. **[the picture link opens in a separate window.]

We then drove on to the Étang Ricot... and the 'original' hide.

New Étang Ricot board and map of Cherine Reserve.. click to enlarge and read.
There was absolutely nothing about... but the light on the reeds was attractive.

Ricot Reflection [enlarge this]
So we rapidly departed for the Maison de la Nature itself. There was nothing doing in the visible water in front of the big viewing windows of the centre itself, so we bought a new guide on Reptiles an Amphibians and, as that was open, walked down to the hide overlooking Étang Cistude.

Étang Cistude board and map of Cherine Reserve.. click to enlarge and read.
There were a number of people already in there... and there was a lot of activity out on the water... particularly Gadwall [Anas strepera] Canard chipeau. I find these a most attractive bird with their tones of grey, brown and gold. Our attention was drawn by another watcher to some European Pond Terrapins that were trying to get some sun. That, and the way the light was catching the Gadwall, made me decide to go and get the camera... it was in the car as we don't, normally, lug the bag around when we go to the Maison de la Nature and I had binos "in pocket". There was then a "French Ramble" [1.5km route march] to the car and back to the hide.

While Pauline took pictures of the cistudes[Here's the link back], I concentrated on trying to get a good shot of the ducks. They were swimming quite close by and the light was still good.

Gadwall pair... the blue LED light is not a recognition feature!
[Caused by reflection through a water droplet!
They are "dabbling" ducks.]
The male Gadwall... the subtle colouration shows up well here.
I also took pictures of the terrapins... but as they don't really move much, even in warm weather.... there is no point in putting up pictures that are already on the blog!
After a bit more watching we decided it was time to move on to the other new observatory at the Cherine... the Étang de la Sous.

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