Just taking it easy

The meeting finished early, I had a couple of hours at my disposal, what could I do? What a stupid question! Go birding of course.

I was on the edge of Montsec, I had my binoculars and a large scale map to enable me to investigate the most out of the way tracks…the sun was shining…nothing to rush home for…heaven on earth!

So I drove here and there stopping to listen or watch, or take a photo now and then. It’s still too early in the year for there to be much in the way of breeding activity, or so I thought. However, my first stop had me listening to no less than 3 Dartford Warblers on a dry, scrubby hillside, caught in the throes of a competition which could determine the outcome of their breeding attempts, and perhaps even the continuation of their line. On a facing slope, just the other side of a sprouting wheat field, Thekla Larks were similarly engaged.

I drove on, stopping shortly after to admire the wide panorama of the Pre-pyrenees which had opened up before me. The first sound that came to my ears were was made up of a series of tinny, disjointed, whistles, clicks and chimes – a Southern Grey Shrike. Perched at the top of an almond tree and with no sense of ridicule.

A  few false turnings, as expected, and a slow but well-timed pace of unexpected encounters made for real therapeutic birding. A female Hen Harrier crossing the valley, songbirds shrieking and scattering this way and that; a Goshawk circling over a rocky outcrop and disappearing beyond the pinewoods; a Golden Eagle approaching and skirting past me, flying too low for its own safety. Fields of Calandra Larks, a solitary Hoopoe flying against the sun, 5 Griffon Vultures on a thermal updraft.

Now I was ready to go back to the fray.

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