Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Birding in France, Part 5: Refuge de la Glére and Lac de l'Aigue Longue

After an already epic morning, we returned back to Refuge de la Glére after birding the Col du Tourmalet. We sat under the shade of a tree to rest and eat lunch, but it only took a few bites in for us to start jumping around and checking out the birds that were flitting around.

Wearing my American Kestrel Partnership shirt while watching Common Kestrels

Juvenile Black Redstart 
A juvenile Black Redstart looking like a crybaby

Mostly we saw our old friends, the Black Redstarts. Our target was the Citril Finch, which has a pretty limited range. We had failed to pick one up the evening before and earlier that day. Alas, we did not ever get that little yellow finch, but we did turn up a cute little yellow European Serin.

European Serin

Another little juvy Black Redstart

A nice-looking adult Male Black Redstart

As we wandered around, we soaked up the view and saw various shades of gray when we found a few other familiar faces, including Water Pipit, Chaffinch and Gray Wagtail. 

Lovely mountain view

Water Pipit


Gray Wagtail

After we finally gave up on the Citril Finch, we drove around the narrow streets of town to run the clock on the rest of the day. We managed to pick up a few new species, including Marsh Tit and Cirl Bunting. After an amazing two days birding with Charles, we bid him adieu, but not before he gave us some pointers on other places to go birding nearby. 

Cirl Bunting

Nick with our guide, Charles

The next day we wanted to visit the little town of Pau (pronounced Po) to get a little bit of our culture on. But before that, we wanted to do a bit of birding, of course. We first checked out the Lac de l'Aigue Longue in the Aquitaine region. We got great views of Northern Lapwings – truly the most beautiful of shorebirds. They have gorgeous iridescent feathers with hints of purple and green. And who couldn’t love that little “wispy crest” (as described in the Collins guide)?

A pair of Northern Lapwings

Little coneheads

Looks kind of hoppy

As we walked around the lake, we picked up some other shorebirds feeding in the mud, including Ruff and the adorable Little Ringed Plover. It’s too bad the Ruffs weren’t in their full Liberace-esque plumage, but still a great sight!


Ruff taking a stretch

Little Ringed Plover

In the shrubs and trees (including some wild chestnut trees) flitted LBJ’s (little brown jobs). We had a tough time getting good looks at them, but we were able to at least identify Common Chiffchaff and Greater (or Common) Whitethroat. And a bright little Blue Tit was a nice pop of color. 

Greater (or Common) Whitethroat

Blue Tit

Chestnut tree

The non-birds, including butterflies, lizards, and a dead mole (?), were also some good finds. That mole had quite the big, shovel-like, digging hands with creepy little fingers. 

Holly Blue
Speckled Wood

Dead mole?

In the lake, we got some nice looks at Great Cormorants, Eurasian Coots, and nice flyby views of Gray Heron and Little Egret. But it was another bird that would fill me with the most glee...

Great Cormorants

European Coots

Gray Heron

Little Egret in flight

Mostly Cattle Egrets with a couple of Little Egrets mixed in

Look at these beautiful Great Crested Grebes! We had gotten some OK looks at some before at Réservoir de Magnoac, but there were so many here and at much closer range. These birds are absolutely gorgeous, and such a delight to watch. We made use of the blind at the lake to catch some fun glimpses of a baby grebe nagging and following its parent, who seemed all too annoyed at it.

Just a bit of elegant preening

I could have watched these guys all day. They’re so lovely and elegant, yet spunky at the same time. They almost have a David Bowie quality to them. And those crests are indeed great!

Maybe my favorite GCGR pic

A nice look at those crests

It was a fun morning checking out the lovely birds and other critters at the lake. But the rest of the day was spent eating crepes and enjoying the sights of Pau. More birding would have to wait until the next day.

In Pau

Chateau de Pau

Our first funicular ride! It was only for a couple of minutes, but fun!


  1. Nice Kestrel shirt!

    It's funny, like half of these birds I have never heard of before, and the other half I picked up while doing a semester in Italy. As a total ignoramus of European aviana, I wonder how much crossover there is?

    Great Crested Grebe shots are shots; always love a Bowie reference too. Cosmically Magisterial.

    1. Thanks! I'm sure there is a lot of crossover in Europe. Some of these species are pretty wide spread, it seems. And love that phrase "cosmically magisterial"! :)

  2. There is too much to comment on here! Amazing stuff!!!

    1. Thanks, Jen! It's fun to relive these moments with these awesome birds.

  3. Gray Wagtail. Wow. Such great photos all around. I also really like your shirt :D