Trip to Marciac, Gers, France, 3 July – 18 July 2022

Nick Rossiter


Birds -- 64 species from 269 records, 7 complete lists, 11 places in Gers/Toulouse, France, area from 3 July – 18 July 2022. Raptors were of 12 types: Black Kite 40, Common Buzzard 24, Kestrel 6, Honey-buzzard 4, Black-winged Kite 4, Sparrowhawk 3, Red Kite 3, Little Owl 2, Long-eared Owl 2, Booted Eagle 1, Montagu's Harrier 1, Barn Owl 1, total 91 birds. Full bird records

Butterflies 25 species, 310 insects, 9 trips, 3 localities, 150m asl: Hedge Brown 157, Small White 35, Marbled White 26, Common Blue 15, Clouded Yellow 14, Swallowtail 11, Painted Lady 9, Speckled Wood 6, Small Blue 6, Meadow Brown 6, Small Heath 5, Sooty Copper 3, Wood White 2, Silver-washed Fritillary 2, Peacock 2, Green-veined White 2, White Admiral 1, Small Skipper 1, Scarce Swallowtail 1, Purple-edged Copper 1, Long-tailed Blue 1, Large White 1, Holly Blue 1, Grizzled Skipper 1, Dark Green Fritillary 1. Full butterfly records

Honey-buzzard were noted at 3 localities:

1) at Juillac SW/Bourret at 136-226m with 4/7 a female Honey-buzzard floating over the area at 17:27 with copses to SW 1 (12208); 5/7 a female Honey-buzzard coming out of a small copse (habitat) to S of villa and moving back E at low altitude at 16:28 (12201) (feeding trip, so site to E); 8/7 another male high up over the now presumed site to S at 13:30 (Juillac SW); 9/7 Could study the area to SE of ridge, picking up at Bourret a female Honey-buzzard (12209) at 12:36 in territory over a wood, trying to keep 4 Black Kite (2 ad, 2 juv) away from its nesting area, with a Red Kite, first one seen, up over the E end of wood; 9/7 The heat kept most birds low in the afternoon but first up at 17:45 as it cooled down a bit was a female Honey-buzzard circling for some time over the small woods on the ridge (12205); suspect she’s not breeding there, that’s over the ridge to SE but it is a popular feeding area; 11/7 a Honey-buzzard male, seen at 11:55, flying briefly along ridge from where walking to W, probably out on a feeding trip; 15/7 a Honey-buzzard female up over site to SW at 17:16, hanging over area before drifting off SW at 17:30 (12207). Summary: a pair present at Bourret, with female more visible, often hunting over Juillac SW.

2) at Juillac NE/Marciac NW at 136-226m with 5/7 a male Honey-buzzard up to NE of the Villa over the wood at 18:08 (habitat) by a river (known breeding site) (12200); 8/7 a male Honey-buzzard high over the site to NE at 11:38 (Marciac NW, habitat 12200) drifting S towards Juillac (12211). Summary: a male in territory at Juillac NE.

3) at Auriébat at 144-262m, 9/7 Much further to SW at 12:49 had a male Honey-buzzard in contention with a Black Kite adult (habitat, 12210). Summary: a male in habitat.

Overall: 3 sites occupied, 4 birds (3 male, 1 female) seen, birds fairly active presumed foraging for food for medium- to large- sized young.


July 18th: maximum 36C, minimum 26C, light SE breeze, sunny all day, dry. Now in London at Ealing at big sis’! Had breakfast at Ibis Hotel in Purpan, very good value – €10.50 included in €53 room charge! Caught tram up to Airport – all straight-forward and then flight from Toulouse to LHR, just 1 hour 20 min. We then took Piccadilly from T5 to T3 and caught cool Elisabeth Line to Ealing Broadway, where took a taxi to Gill’s house. Lateral FT for Covid positive today for both big sis and brother-in-law but not for younger sis who’s now shaken off the live infection. What a business! No trains tomorrow KGX-York through heatwave so am expecting my 13:15 flight LHR-NCL to be full. Had a Black Kite soaring over Toulouse Airport, over grass between runways, this morning and a floating Red Kite near Hayes and Harlington station this afternoon at 13:00!

July 17th: maximum 39C, minimum 19C, light SE breeze, sunny all day, dry. Now in Toulouse at Ibis Purpan, near airport. Up at 05:25, nephew drove the 4 of us up to Toulouse, younger sis and brother-in-law to fly today to Bristol and elder sis and me to explore Toulouse before flying tomorrow. We went for coffee in Capitol Square 1  2  3 in centre at 10:00 with nephew and he then departed; we had set up a WhatsApp group for the Rossiter family visit and that was busy today with fond farewells and thanks. Another very hot day but we did look at the old historical city and had a liquid lunch b4 getting Uber taxi to hotel, for €17 where had dropped bags earlier. Sooo nice to have air conditioning and fast WiFi. Here's the 2022/23 programme for the Opéra national du Capitole, Toulouse. We had tea at a local pizza cafe and nitecap in hotel b4 retiring early to catch up on sleep.

Birds today included a Black Kite flying along the road E of Marciac at 06:30 at dawn, darting down in front of us to a road kill and another at Cadours over a stubble field at 08:00, after detour through motorway closure (accident!). No raptors seen in the heat at Toulouse but quite a lot of birds, 11 types, including 30 Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull 1  2  3  4  5, 110 Black-headed Gull and 3 Common Tern on the mighty Garonne river, with 2 White Wagtail 1  2  3 , 1 Song Thrush, 4 Carrion Crow, 45 displaying Swift.

July 16th: maximum 40C, minimum 20C, light NW breeze, sunny all day, dry. More forest fires in Gironde but air much less hazy today. We’re in top-level of weather warnings (red!). Studied the Black Kite closely this morning from the ranch from 10:15-13:15 getting plenty of distance shots 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20; 4 birds (3 ad, 1 juv) were floating around, keeping fairly high, not low-down like they were a few days ago; think these might be new birds from further N; not seen at end of watch. A Woodlark was seen flying S and a Melodious Warbler was still singing in the heat. Also took a piccie of a Collared Dove 1. Had a Black-winged Kite adult 1  2  3  4  5  6 perched on top of a tree at 11:00 in their nesting area with 2 adult and a juvenile 7  8  9  10 seen in the evening from 20:00-22:00 in a tree overlooking this habitat with hedges 11. There were quite a few wasps around. Also in evening session had 31 Cattle Egret and 110 Starling moving NW to roost. Had last meal out at Place de la Ville in centre of Marciac; very nice plat du jours: melon cerrano, poulet and rice, pavlova, g from the bar (really, quite a lot of ex-pats in area, more piccies!). Very nice then had siesta as heat surged, still 35C at 19:00. Journey back coincides with peak of the heat wave, spending day in Toulouse tomorrow; airport hotel has proper WiFi! Starting at 06:30 to give car a gentle run. Sisters still coughing badly and spread to brother-in-law; suspected as Covid new variant; I had a lump in my throat for one day and a stomach upset but have apparently shaken it off, my third 24-hour Covid do in 2 years.

July 15th: maximum 36C, minimum 19C, light NW breeze, sunny all day, dry. Very hazy today (smoke haze) with smell of burning as big pine forest blazes in Arcachon/Bordeaux to W. Weather warning out now – amber! Had chat to local farmer Lauren who speaks reasonable English as he went to agricultural college in Devon. He said this is exceptional hot, dry spell and he’s spending much time watering maize and soya crops; sunflower don’t need watering much once they’ve started flowering which they’ve done; he’s trying some smaller GM maize this year which is supposed to use less water but he’s not convinced yet. Went out for walk to W to Beaumarches (habitat 1  2  3) from 10:55-12:50, doing over 5k steps (3.5km). Common Buzzard were conspicuous with new family party of 4 up in air 1 but Black Kite were scarce with just 3 seen (1 adult float, 2 soaring high, 1  2  3  4, are they leaving?). Had 67 Carrion Crow, mainly in one flock, 11 Cattle Egret (flock), 4 Green Woodpecker plus alarm calls of a large pied woodpecker type, 11 Swallow (fledged), 14 House Martin (occupied nest), 3 singing Melodious Warbler, 1 singing Blackcap, 1 fem/juv Cirl Bunting, 1 Linnet. Butterflies included a beautiful Scarce Swallowtail 1  2  3  4  5 (at Juillac), 2 Wood White 1, a Small Skipper, 3 Clouded Yellow 1  2  3  4, 66 Hedge Brown, 7 Small White, 1 Marbled White, and a White Admiral (also at Juillac). Most importantly Black Kite appear to have left with many flying high yesterday and just a few through with unusual plumage in last day or two. Had a Honey-buzzard female up over site to SW at 17:16, hanging over area before drifting off SW; at 17:30 (12207 1  2  3  4  5  6  7); plus a Black-winged Kite adult up to SW. Total bird-types for day was 26 and for butterfly-types 8. Think funds are down 13k on week, maybe 15k when all catch-ups done!! Suspect most stocks heavily oversold and some rebound to follow; have put 100k back from cash into heavyweight miners at ‘bargain’ prices, yielding 13-20%!! Went to Riscle in evening, a restaurant 20km to NW from Marciac for lovely meal, more canard, rw and brandy!! Got some piccies now but short of mobile allowance, now used 4.2GB of 5GB allowance. Had 2 Black Kite at Termes-d’Armaganc on way NW at 18:30 and a hunting male Sparrowhawk in the restaurant area at Riscle at 19:00.

July 14th: maximum 38C, minimum 18C, light SW breeze, sunny all day, dry. More hazy today as mountains not in view but still very hot. Barley harvest complete with bare fields a magnet for the roving raptors; baling is very popular with the kites as it disturbs the mice; the birds happily fly within a metre of the farmer in his vehicle, complete trust there! Maize irrigation is still in full swing with water canons, fed by aquifers, everywhere. Much less maize was being grown in the Toulouse area; suspect as it’s further from the Pyrenees there’s less run-off from the mountains available; it is a controversial issue locally. Sunflowers don’t need much watering evidently. Walked up to top of ridge from 10:15-12:50. Black Kite comprised 8 birds circling over cut barley field as farmer baled; piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, soaring birds 8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28; 2 to extreme N, 2 to extreme S, 1 to extreme W, 1 to extreme NE (Lac), 1 to extreme SE; total = 15. Common Buzzard comprised 4 around ridge (family party 2 ad, 2 juv) 1  2  3  4  5 plus 5 to S (2 ad ,3 juv) and 2 over Lac; total = 11. Common Kestrel comprised 2 juv to NE and ad male and juv to SW. Red Kite comprised 1 adult in SE area 1. So total is 31 raptors of 4 types. Other birds included 20 Cattle Egret: 13 were around local cattle 1  2  3 plus 7 flying to N, a Short-toed Treecreeper, an agitated Redstart, 3 Chaffinch, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, 2 Nuthatch, family party of 4 Green Woodpecker, a Swallow, 3 Melodious Warbler, in much higher total of 22 bird-types. Butterflies comprised a Purple-edged Copper 1  2  3, 4 Small White, 10 Marbled White, 38 Hedge Brown, 3 Meadow Brown, 4 Swallowtail, 3 Clouded Yellow. Had good day with nephew’s family, concluding with excellent dinner at Les Coulisses, which I treated everyone to: €175 plus €20 bonus! Had lamb on skewers (brochette lamb): very tasty and house rw! So all going well but ending soon!!

July 13th: maximum 38C, minimum 18C, light N breeze, sunny all day, dry. Well 38C is 100F in old money: they used to ring a bell in Tucson, Arizona, each April when the temperature first rose that high. We remain warmest part of France. No walk up hill today: disturbed sleep with relations coughing, and soooo hot! Did join younger sis for c100 min drive to Toulouse Airport to fetch nephew and partner; I was there as navigator and moral support. We left at 17:45 and got there at 19:30 jit to meet in arret minut car park after their plane had landed – free parking if only there for 10 min! Drove back immediately – car fully loaded with 4 passengers and luggage and some non-fatal ignition system warnings – may be due to overheating engine with no break, hot weather and faster style (nephew driving!). We had gr8 reunion drink outside at the ranch: lovely to see everyone again!

Birds today comprised 2 Black Kite moving S at Juillac to feed in ridge area at 11:15; a Stonechat male on wires E of Juillac at 17:55; a Black Kite at Saint-Maur-Soulès at 18:05; a Hoopoe at Mirande at 18:20; 6 Cattle Egret and a Common Buzzard up at Bisquer from 18:34-18:38; a Black Kite at Leguevin at 19:30; a Black Kite at Pilbrac at 19:34; a Roller at Leguevin at 20:07; 2 Common Buzzard on fences at Beazavin at 20:28; 2 Hoopoe at Auch at 20:50; a Common Buzzard at S Maur at 21:16. So raptor totals away from Juillac: 3 Black Kite, 4 Common Buzzard.

July 12th: maximum 37C, minimum 18C, light N breeze, sunny all day, dry. Went for morning walk from 10:45-12:45 up to top of ridge again, went a little further E and found a walking rest area with partial shade and stone and wooden benches – marvellous. Here are views to N 1, W 2, S 3, NE 4. Experimented with camera and thought that setting A (aperture) and reduced zoom-in was better for raptors in flight. Setting bird (icon) is better for perched birds and butterflies. Masses of raptors out again in late morning heat with, on ridge, 4 Common Buzzard (2 ad, 2 juv), 8 Black Kite (all juv) in feeding frenzy as farmer did some baling on stubble field, 2 Red Kite (ad, juv) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 and a male Common Kestrel 1 over stubble field a little to N, a male Sparrowhawk over the field a little to S. Black Kite piccies comprised some soaring 1  2  3, at distance 4  5  6  7  8 (last with Common Buzzard closer), close 9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17, with Common Buzzard 18  19 . Also had 4 Common Buzzard (2 ad, 2 juv) and 3 Black Kite to extreme SE, with 1 Black Kite to NE. So total of 12 Black Kite, 8 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite (redder body, more forked tail, narrower wings), 1 Common Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk: 24 raptors of 5 types. No Honey-buzzard – keeping a very low profile in the heat. Other birds included 2 singing Melodious Warbler, a female/juv Cirl Bunting, an anxious Chiffchaff, a calling Golden Oriole, 3 anxious Great Tit, 2 Nuthatch (bred). Total was just 11 bird-types in the heat. Butterflies included 2 Sooty Copper 1  2  3  4, 1 Common Blue 1, 4 Swallowtail, 1 Meadow Brown, 4 Painted Lady, 2 Clouded Yellow, a Dark Green Fritillary, plus 2 Humming-bird Hawk-moth. So pretty good morning! Processed a lot of Crete piccies from 14/4-15/4 in afternoon. Then we all went to Place de la Ville for slap-up meal in evening – canard again for me followed by pavlova – magnificent, with ww, local brandy and espresso. It’s forecast to reach 39/40 by Sunday/Monday! Tomorrow late afternoon younger sis and I are going to Toulouse Airport to fetch nephew A and wife M. Funds down 10k wtd as slump in commodity prices continues; big sell-off Monday morning is becoming predictable. Am slowly reinvesting cash in mining heavyweights, gaining shares if not cash! Can play the waiting game! Lack of WiFi is an issue: using tethering to Android phone and have increased mobile data to 5 GB a month but not really enough for all want to do.

July 11th: maximum 36C, minimum 20C, light N breeze, sunny all day, dry. Mornings are still OK for a walk but afternoon and early evening is pretty fearsome; SW France is the hottest past of the country and still on a rising trend. Watering of maize with water canons continues: some local people think it uses too much water to be sustainable but with the Ukraine war maize price has soared this year. Another popular local crop is sunflowers, another crop in short supply with the Ukraine war; it doesn’t need so much water. Walked up the hill to the ridge from 09:30-12:20 and had masses of Black Kite 1  2  3: 8 in air at one time overhead, based near ranch plus 4 to SE, 3 to extreme E, 4 to extreme W, giving total 19 birds, about 50% juvenile; recorded some calls; they were soaring very high 4  5  6  7  8, maybe preparing for emigration. Also had 1 Red Kite adult soaring over E end of wood to SE as in last visit, 9 Common Buzzard (1 ad, 2 juv at ranch 1  2  3  4; 2 ad, 2 juv to SE 5  6; 1 ad, 1 juv extreme E), 1 Honey-buzzard male, seen at 11:55, flying briefly along ridge from where walking to W, probably out on a feeding trip. Here’s the copse 9 where young Black Kite were still being fed and views over Juillac to S generally 1  2. Had a Golden Oriole singing, a Jay calling, 3 singing Melodious Warbler, 1 Hoopoe in our garden, 3 Carrion Crow 1. Total for morning was 20 bird-types. Butterflies included 36 Hedge Brown, 9 Marbled White, 5 Small Blue, 3 Small White, 2 Painted Lady, 2 Small Heath, 1 Clouded Yellow. 3 of us (minus elder sister) went to Bassoues for lunch, a village up in the hills to N with a good restaurant set in an old medieval type wooden building; very cool. We had good lunch, potage followed by canard and dessert for me, plus small carafe of red wine. Cost was only €53, very good value. Had 2 Black Kite in vicinity of village giving total of 21 for the day! They restaurant had 2 interesting posters of the birds of Gers 1  2. Sisters still suffering from the virus. At dusk pleasant sitting outside at 22:00 and had 69 Crow, 2 Magpie and 9 Cattle Egret going to roost with a Robin and 2 Goldfinch in the garden. Booked up 2 rooms for elder sister and me at Ibis near Toulouse Airport for return journey; we fly one day later than younger sis and brother-in-law through BA cancellations. Cost was just €107. Nephew and wife arrive on Wednesday! Legal requirement for masks in France revoked today.

July 10th: maximum 34C, minimum 19C, light N breeze, sunny all day, dry. A scorcher: going higher, forecast 37C max in few days! Irrigation of lucrative maize crop is in full swing with enormous hoses and water canons mobilised. At least farmhouse with thick walls stays cool. Day off: too hot for the birds and for me. 3 of us (minus brother-in-law) did make the sq concert at cool Tillac Church St James the Major 1  2 with Quatuor Fenris playing Shostakovitch sq3 and Schubert sq13 Rosamunde!! Thought the Shostakovitch was very dark, especially m4 – it’s a very moving piece, ending almost in despair. Not sure it was appropriate for a small-town audience, to which the smooth and romantic Schubert was entirely appropriate. But the audience seemed to love both pieces and we had an encore of a polka! Shostakovitch is master of the sq medium! Both sisters went outside with coughs for the Schubert so left in splendid isolation but younger one did come back for the encore. Cost was €18 each. Here’s a mediaeval tower in Tillac 1 and some woodland 1 near the village. Birds here from 15:30-18:00 comprised 16 House Sparrow, 12 displaying Swift, 1 Swallow nesting, 1 Green Woodpecker alarm call, 10 House Martin occupying nests.

July 9th: maximum 32C, minimum 21C, light SE breeze, sunny all day, dry. Quite a scorcher: on rising trend now! Walked up the hill to S from 10:00-12:30 to make the ridge, from where you can see the Pyrenees in the distance 1  2  3, with still significant snow areas, some 50km away to S. There had been a fire in the stubble over the other side of the ridge and 2 fire tenders and 4 vans were in attendance; got some strange looks, think they thought I was a reporter, with my camera gear, but reporters don’t walk up the hill to get to the scene and also don’t spend much time looking up into the sky! Anyway the fire had been put out but it had attracted some Black Kite, looking for any disturbed mice. A barley field was also being cut; that had a single Black Kite following the cutter 1  2  3  4 but later at 19:00 as heat abated had 8 Black Kite over the field, presumed to be 2 family groups of 4. Had 5 singing Melodious Warbler and 5 Tree Sparrow, plus alarm/food calls from Long-eared Owl (at least one adult, 1 juvenile) and Black Kite calls from the wood on N side of ridge. Could study the area to SE of ridge, picking up a female Honey-buzzard 1 (12209) at 12:36 in territory over a wood, trying to keep 4 Black Kite (2 ad, 2 juv) away from its nesting area 2, with a Red Kite, first one seen, up over the E end of wood. Much further to SW at 12:49 had a male Honey-buzzard in contention with a Black Kite adult (habitat 1, 12210) and 4 Cattle Egret on the move. 3 Common Buzzard (ad, 2 juv, 1 pale-phase juv) were up over the ridge. Butterflies included 2 Swallowtail, 2 Small Heath 1, 6 Marbled White 1, 4 Common Blue 1  2, 1 Small Blue 1, 3 Painted Lady 1. The heat kept most birds low in the afternoon but first up at 17:45 as it cooled down a bit was a female Honey-buzzard circling for some time over the small woods 1  2 on the ridge 3 (12205); suspect she’s not breeding there, that’s over the ridge to SE but it is a popular feeding area. 2moro we have the live concert at Tillac at 17:00. Trying to get the family to watch more French TV: we have CNews on channel 16 and watched an outdoors show of popular singing works, mainly opera, on CultureBox with the Cannes Symphony Orchestra, maybe from Monte Carlo or Nice, where it’s really hot: 35C max, 24C min today. .

July 8th: maximum 27C, minimum 13C, light SE breeze, cloudy early morning, sunny later, dry. Had walk early-on from 10:10-12:30, down again to river to N, before it got too hot. Many more insects around of which more later. Raptors comprised a family group of 3 Black Kite to S, with nearby calls heard on walk to N where an adult moving SW; a male Honey-buzzard high over the site to NE at 11:38 (Marciac NW, habitat 12200 1  2) drifting S towards Juillac (3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 12211) and another male high up over the now presumed site to S at 13:30 (Juillac SW); 4 Common Buzzard, family party of 2 ad + 2 juv, near our ranch 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Also had a Blue-headed Wagtail male 1, two calling Golden Oriole and one calling Quail, a Crested Lark, 2 Hoopoe 1  2, 1 Grey Heron 1, 2 singing Blackcap, 2 singing Melodious Warbler, 4 Stonechat 1  2, 1 White Wagtail male 1. Had a couple of Hornet, 1 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 1, 2 Silver-washed Fritillary 1  2, a Grizzled Skipper 1  2  3, 10 Common Blue 1  2  3, 1 Long-tailed Blue, 1 Sooty Copper 1  2  3  4, 17 Hedge Brown 1  2, 9 Small White 1  2, 1 Small Heath 1  2, 1 Meadow Brown, 2 Green-veined White, 4 Speckled Wood, 2 Clouded Yellow, 1 Peacock. That’s 13 types of butterfly (52 insects) and 24 types of bird! Had dinner again at Boeuf sur la Place, had rump steak medium-cooked this time, a little on the blue side, but very tasty, plus dessert, espresso and rw, all for €155 for the 4 of us plus €15 bonus. On way out to dinner had 3 Cattle Egret on a field with cattle and at Marciac, in the square, had 2 Crag Martin to add to list of birds there, particularly hirundines. All going well though things a little frayed by end of today health-wise with both sisters suffering from colds and brother-in-law needing long rests; I’m thriving so far, enjoying the fresh air, good food, sunshine and rest!!

July 7th: maximum 30C, minimum 17C, light NW breeze, sunny all day, dry. Today was fairly quiet, spending most of day at the ranch sunbathing and keeping an eye on the skies. Early afternoon compiled some piccies from 5/7 of Black-winged Kite, Common Buzzard, Honey-buzzard, Sparrowhawk and also labelled Black Kite and other piccies from Hexham 29/6. We did some shopping mid-afternoon where I was wanted to do some lifting of food and garden supplies. Later we had very good meal at the Du Lac restaurant with seats by the lakeside over the water: 3 lamb chops with rw and apple pie. We paid €141 plus €15 bonus. Service was very friendly. Unless they are very good actors, they do really seem to like the English as people. Today’s bird highlights at Juillac: 4 Common Buzzard (adult + juvenile in air to N and S 1  2  3  4), a Black-winged Kite 1 mobbing a Common Buzzard to SW at 10:25, 3 Black Kite (2 adult, 1 juvenile) to S with follow-me training exercise at 10:57, a Sparrowhawk female dashing through the garden at 12:50, 4 Goldfinch together, a Brown Hare, a Swallowtail butterfly. At Du Lac had a Grey Wagtail and a Grey Heron. At dusk 22:00 had a Barn Owl flying around me looking for mice in our garden plus 18 Carrion Crow going to roost and a Robin. Here's bright red sunset at Juillac 1. Delighted to hear that BJ is going, but why not now? For me Partygate and his reckless addiction to net zero in an unrealistic timescale, were the final straws. Most people don’t seem to appreciate that if renewables are supplying 20% of our electricity, that’s only 4% of our total power as electricity meets only 20% of total power (rest is mainly gas, petrol, diesel). Here’s piccies of the ranch: back and front, plus a photo taken in 1995 when nephew took over.

July 6th: maximum 30C, minimum 16C, light NW breeze, cloudy morning, then sunny, dry. Have processed on BirdTrack the major walks around the ranch from yesterday and day before. Major work has been processing the Black Kite piccies at Juillac from yesterday. Here’s juveniles 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 and adults 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26. This is a good reference collection for comparison with the Northumberland birds whose season runs 3-4 weeks later than in SW France. Today had visit to Marciac from 12:00-15:30, first the market, followed by long lunch at Boeuf sur la Place, where we had plats du jour (3 courses) plus ww to go with the fish. We (me/D) had Guinness aperitif at la Place de la Ville. Sitting by pool in afternoon and then went for walk around Lac de Marciac 1  2  3 where had some Black Kite high overhead – 2 adult, 1 juvenile 1  2  3  4  5 plus a ringtail Montagu’s Harrier floating over nearby hillside, a Common Buzzard, 6 singing Blackcap, 12 Mallard 1, plus a Holly Blue butterfly. A male Kestrel was on a post on return to Juillac. The Marciac square is good for birds: 24 Swift wheeling around, 2 House Martin, 2 Swallow, 1 Blackcap, 3 Collared Dove, 1 Magpie, 1 Blackbird, 1 Chiffchaff. Had 14 bird species in all in Marciac centre today. Concert on Sunday at Tillac looks excitingQuatuor Fenris with Shostakovitch, Schubert!!

July 5th: maximum 30C, minimum 20C, light NW breeze, sunny all day, dry. Lovely weather. And the Black Kite are now fledging with 5-6 family groups noted around the immediate area. The young birds are a little more like Red Kite, with weaker, more flappy flight and light patches on their plumage. Their wing formula with 6 protruding primary tips is very obvious in the fresh plumage; adults are more uniformly dark and show some wear on the primary tips as well as moult, around P4/P5 at present. We went for a walk in late afternoon towards the river, finding a Coypu 1  2, another Black-winged Kite territory to N of our villa up in display at 17:24 and 17:47 1  2  3  4  5, a male Honey-buzzard up to NE of the Villa over the wood (habitat 1  2  3  4  5) by a river (known breeding site) 1 (12200), a female Honey-buzzard coming out of a small copse (habitat 1  2) to S of villa 2 and moving back E at low altitude at 16:28 (12201) (feeding trip, so site to E). During the day 2 Common Buzzard were seen, both in vicinity of villa 1  2  3, and a male Sparrowhawk circled over the villa at 12:43 1  2. Total was 33 bird-types. Butterflies were of 6 types: 3 Clouded Yellow, 2 Speckled Wood 1, 12 Small White, 1 Large White, 1 Meadow Brown, 1 Peacock, plus a Humming-bird Hawk-moth 1  2. No break in stock collapse, down a further 13k wtd, mainly today on panic-stricken investors, dumping everything; ftse 100 was down nearly 3% but signs of a rally on dow/nasdaq late-on in New York. Did do a bit of buying today: taking back stock sold 12-24% higher just a few weeks ago! Am talking at ANPA in Liverpool University mid-August on Logic and Emotion! As go to bed, a Little Owl is calling outside with its neighbour weakly echoing!

July 4th: maximum 27C, minimum 18C, light NW breeze, sunny day except for ttime when cloudy and threatening again, dry. Sun came out at 17:00 to spur the raptors to some fine display. Had total of 7 Black Kite, with some display by pairs of adults 1  2, no doubt looking forward to their young fledging soon; a Black-winged Kite in active territorial mode from 17:04-17:20 at top of nearby hill to SW, hovering over area and also sitting on the tops of perches, bare twigs above ground below 1  2  3  4; a Booted Eagle, soaring high at 17:53 1, and a female Honey-buzzard floating over the area at 17:27 with copses to SW 1 (12208). Also had 2 Hoopoe in total of 17 bird-types for main daytime. Had restful day: shopping at hypermarche €192, paid by me for food, also indulged in a French chapeau for €9.90. Then drink on the square at Marciac, salad lunch at the ranch, with supper at Le Beouf sur la Place, €145; I had thon (tuna), really beautiful. We’re booked up for a chamber-music concert at Tillac on Sunday, rumoured to be some Shostakovitch! Lovely to be in SW France!! xx XX Can complete update from last Friday on funds; on week 14k, ytd +271k (gross, +15.4%), +232k net, compared with (all ytd) ftse 100 minus 2.9%, ftse 250 minus 20.6%, dow minus 15.5%, nasdaq minus 30.0%, bitcoin minus 58.1%. Continuing to fight a valiant rearguard action; do think today’s heavily negative sentiment is a little overdone, particularly in natural resources. As go to bed, a Little Owl is calling outside with its neighbour weakly echoing! This makes 17 bird types for day.

July 3rd: maximum 28C, minimum 21C, light W breeze, hot on arrival, violent thunderstorms later, very wet on arrival. So what’s travelling like in 2022. a pain! Enormous queues at NCL boarding pass check and at LHR T3 boarding pass check and security. BA/Heathrow hardly had their act together with no buses available to take passengers off their flight from NCL. So delays at every turn, maybe symptomatic of a system still recovering from lockdown. Don’t want to be too hard as the lockdown measures inflicted on airlines were disproportionate, almost cruel to anyone trying to run an airline business, Absolutely knackered, up at 04:00, at NCL airport at 04:40, Toulouse by 14:40 on time and at Marciac by 17:00, in time for a really good meal: Piazza Napoletana, salad, chips, beer, red wine: revived amazingly. Farmhouse at Juillac, Gers, is improved , marvellously comfortable. We all made it: brother-in-law struggling but great he’s here and marvellous family reunion. Had a Common Kestrel near Toulouse Airport, 2 Black Kite near Marsan and a Common Buzzard past Auch. But weather was deteriorating all the time and no surprise it went into a spectacular storm. To bed early. 2moro we will have very lazy morning and then get out for shopping and lunch. Hoping to see more raptors if the sun gets out, French farmers growing much maize and sunflower in response to Ukraine shortages! Tethered Android hotspot seems to be working.

Nick Rossiter 2023