This was a short family break to Euro Disney by coach from Aberdare. So it was four am in the morning at Aberdare bus station and it was tipping down with rain and there were no birds anywhere to be seen or heard.
At Cardiff West Service, I saw my first birds of the trip: a Pied Wagtail. There was a roost in a tree in the car park with around fifty birds.
Other species seen at the services were House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Gold Finch, Blackcap, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Magpie and three Mallard’s flying over.
The next bird was not seen until we were almost at the Severn Bridge: a Common Buzzard.
Once over the bridge, thing were very slow with only twelve species (Starling, Rook, 6 Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Great Created Grebe with young, Black Headed Gull, Collard Dove, Wren, Stock Dove, Blue Tit, House Martin, Feral Pigeon) seen and that was with a stop at a services station in Surrey called Cobham services and on to Dover.
One highlight was a pond at Cobham Services near the petrol station, which had no birds but there were dragonflies on the pond and I got my first Black Tailed Skimmer of the year. There were seven in total and there were also Damselfly which were Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselfly.
We arrived at Dover for our ferry ride over to Calais and a change of habitat. Once on deck, I started to see new birds almost straight away. The most common were Gannets; there were seventy in total and only three juvenile. We also saw twenty five Kittiwakes, mostly on the French side of the channel, and one common Tern, hundreds of Black headed Gulls, two Sandwich Terns, three Mediterranean Gulls and two summer plumages birds which were cracking in the sunlight.
Once docked and on our way, the first Kestrel of the trip showed up and the only Sparrow Hawk of the trip was seen being chased by House martin. There was very little else different apart from a White Wagtail and a Great Tit. There seemed to be miles of field and not a lot else.
Once at Euro Disney, we checked-in and I had a quick walk around the grounds of the Newport Beach Club. There were a couple of Mute Swans, Black Headed Gulls and Mallards on the lake, with lots of carp in the water.
In Downtown Disney, there was a fairly large Starling roost on the side of a small lake. There must have been a thousand birds in total and it was great to see. Over the next two days, I walked the grounds of the hotel twice a day and saw lots of the same birds over again. The birds were more or less the same as the in the UK.
Robins were very scarce; I only saw one in two days. Blackbirds and Blue Tits were common and breeding. Great Tit and Long Tailed Tit were seen to be breeding as well. I had four species of finch, which were Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Linnet, which were scarcer and I only saw them in one place. I also saw Wren, blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest , Great Spotted Woodpecker with one chick, one Short toed Tree creeper, Swift, House Martin, Swallow. I had four species of Warblers; Blackcap, Chiffchaff , White Throat seen and heard around the park and Reed Warbler seen in a small reed bed, feeding young.
There were two Cormorants and Grey Herons on the lake. Also present on some of the smaller ponds were a single Moorhen and three Coots. I had three different types of Gull: black headed gulls on the lake in small numbers and Herring Gull and Lesser black Backed Gulls flying over.
The hotel grounds were mixed woodland and lakes with three mute swans and about a dozen mallards. There were small waterways and one area was over grown and had a lot of scrub and a small reed bed. I think at different times of the year it could be very good for birdwatching and a break from the park.
I found mammals very scarce; I only saw two rabbits and a wood mouse which was feeding on pizza in Downtown Disney in the evening. I thought I would have seen Grey Squirrel on the grounds but no sign. There was also no sign of any dragonflies or damselflies. I saw two Butterflies, which were small white and Red admiral.
The weather was not very good; there were showers one moment and sun spells in the next. So maybe more stable weather would have resulted in more butterflies and dragonflies as the area looked good for them.
The trip back across France was a bit better as the weather had gotten better and I had some different birds for my French trip list, which were Lapwing, Rook, Jackdaw, Common Buzzard and a very pale white bird. I also had a Harrier species which was displaying, which I think could have been a Marsh Harrier.
Back at the Calais ferry port and back aboard the ferry for my final crossing, birds in the harbour were pretty much the same as my earlier cross. There were hundreds of Black Headed Gulls and a first summer Mediterranean Gull and the best surprise was a first summer Little Gull, which was feeding in the harbour and sixteen Common Tern and six Cormorants.
The crossing was very similar and there were twenty-one Kittiwakes. There were twenty-eight Gannets, a lot less this time and mostly in the Dover area. There were also two Fulmar, two more Common Tern being chased by a lesser Black Backed Gull until they dropped their fish. The three med gulls were in the same area as the earlier trip.
The highlight of the crossing was twenty-five Common Scoter, flying fairly close to the English side of the channel, going west and a single Harbour Porpoise. The trip from Dover to Aberdare was very poor and the only new birds were a Kingfisher and Greylag Goose. I thought I would have had Rose ringed Parakeet or Red Kite on the way home. The only mammals seen from the bus was red Fox and Rabbit.
After sixteen hours on the road, boy was I glad to be home.