Wednesday - Today we headed for the Cirque du Troumouse area. We stopped at Gedre and I scanned the enormous cliff to the west. I was soon looking at a distant Lammergeier patrolling the ridge. We moved on to the picturesque Lac du Gloriettes. My targets here were Rock Thrush and Wallcreeper (very optimistically). Neither were seen but the walk was lovely amongst superb scenery. I did add Yellowhammer and Red-billed Chough to my lists.
Then it was on to the Cirque. We stopped off at Haus for a much needed cool drink…and a Magnum! We then started the ascent to the Cirque. The scenery as always was spectacular. My dream then came true as I spotted a Lammergeier patrolling the nearby slopes. This time it was close…real close! The beast then landed on a rock some 200yds away. As I was setting my scope to show Louise it unfortunately took off…but fortunately flew right towards us and over our heads!!!
A truly memorable moment, especially after my lack of success on my previous visit. The close pass was what I was after...and boy did I get it!
Thursday - A mercifully cooler day today...only 21c. A blanket of cloud covered the Gave valley so it was time to bird low. It was also time to try to put to bed one of my nemesis species...Rock Sparrow. Locally common...but not where I've been! Charles once again had some great info' on a site just north of Lourdes. I was up at 5.45 and on site by just after 7. Excellent directions had me walking towards the correct spot soon after. A bird landed on a wire, I lifted my bins...ROCK SPARROW!!!
I spent the next hour obtaining some pics and just enjoying the success. It was good to study the species in detail and FINALLY catch up with it. I was going to head further north to try for Black-shouldered Kite but the weather closed in so I returned to St Savin to pick Louise up.
We tried a couple of spots locally but as soon as we gained any height the weather predictably deteriorated. It was time for Pibeste. This is an area just north of Argeles-Gazost. As we left the town I looked to my left and c50 Griffon Vultures were circling low over a wood! Some even landed in the trees...quite a spectacle. Also present were at least 15 Black Kites and 5 Red. With further help from Charles we eventually found another site by a dis-used quarry. Within 10 minutes I was enjoying extended views of a family of Melodious Warblers. I couldn't locate the hope for Bonelli's however. Our final stop was at the north end of Agios Vidalos. We pulled into a large car park by a visitor centre. In the next 30 minutes I enjoyed views of Egyptian Vulture (2), Short-toed Eagle (2), Booted Eagle (2) plus more Black Kites, Red Kites and Griffons.
Tomorrow we head for a big day out around Gavarnie. There won't be a report as I'll be er...knackered! Also you'll have noticed the lack of pics. Again due to internet speed...or lack of it, I've decided to leave it until I get home when I'll do a summary of sightings and sites. I'll also post a detailed trip list which may help you or someone you know if/when you visit this area in the future.