The Cesse river gorge stop, also drew a blank for Wallcreeper but we saw a fine pair of Cirl bunting in a bush and a Stonechat in a vineyard.
On to the lovely site at Notre Dame du Cros for our picnic, where we quickly realised that with the number of families around with small children birdwatching would be unfruitful – otherwise we could have started up the gorge a little way to look for… yes, you guessed – Wallcreeper! On our way back to the cars we did see a soaring Sparrowhawk. So it was on up the hill to the top end of the same gorge, where the task was challenging to say the least!
Searching for a small grey bird on a grey rock face some several hundred metres high and as many wide, posed a serious challenge. But quite amazingly Astrid’s eagle eyes picked out a Wallcreeper fussing around in the shadows of a shallow recess in the rock. We managed to follow this individual for several minutes as it worked its way up and down the rock face looking for spiders and insects in the cracks. It flew left and we soon lost it. But as a lifer for several people in the group, despite being a distant view, it was nonetheless a clear view through the scope, and Keith got a record shot to prove that we saw it!
With that achievement under our belts we walked back down the hill to enjoy the spectacular view south to the snow-clad Canigou and the whole range of white-topped Pyrenees stretching westwards. After seeing a pair of Kestrels attacking a buzzard, a further four Buzzards appeared to the south, seemingly in two pairs, giving us a bit of a display. A Sardinian warbler was flitting around in the garrigue below us – noisily warning of our presence and that of two daredevil young boys who we managed to deter from sliding down a vertical shale bank…
Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Common brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) as well as Wall brown (Lasiommata megera) butterflies were spotted as were a number of non-identified whites and other butterflies all out enjoying the warm sunshine.
We also saw plenty of flowering Mediterranean spurge (Euphorbia characias ); Dwarf or Crimean iris (Iris lutescens), Etruscan Honeysuckle (Lonicera etrusca), and quite amazingly a Grey-leaved cistus (Cistus albidus) in flower!!! There were also Rush-leaf jonquils (Narcissus assoanus ) in flower up the hill (seen by Keith and Mandy).