Cross-channel birding at its very best
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.