Cross-chan­nel bird­ing at its very best

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go BIrding - PAUL TRODD

LIV­ING IN KENT, and only a short drive from the Chan­nel Tun­nel ter­mi­nal at Folke­stone, the lure of a day’s bird­ing in north­ern France is reg­u­larly taken, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the spring. Book an early ‘shut­tle’ and, just 35 min­utes later, coastal Pas-de­calais beck­ons with a chance of species that you could only dream of back home, such as Ken­tish Plover, Crested Lark, Zit­ting Cis­ti­cola, Bluethroat and Black-winged Stilt, and, if a hin­ter­land wood is in­cluded in the trip, Short-toed Treecreeper, Mid­dle Spot­ted and Black Wood­peck­ers and Wil­low and Crested Tits are also on the menu. The Platier d’oye na­ture re­serve is a half-hour drive east from Calais and cov­ers 391 hectares of scrub, sand dunes, salt­ings, wa­ter mead­ows and old gravel work­ings, all pro­tected by a broad bar­rier beach, home to breed­ing Ken­tish Plovers. Patches of wood­land around old WW2 block­houses are worth check­ing for passer­ines, while farm­land to the south har­bours good num­bers of Grey Par­tridge and pass­ing har­ri­ers. There is a well­marked cir­cu­lar walk around the re­serve from the car park, although many bird­ers rarely stray far from the nearby hide over­look­ing the main wet­land, a large shal­low lagoon, which plays host to a wide range of breed­ing and mi­grant birds. Those seen in­clude Broad-billed Sand­piper and Tem­minck’s Stint.

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