In Association with:


Trip Reports Available:

Costa Rica
Ecuador (South)
Ecuador (Galapagos)
Finland / Norway
India (Bharatpur)
India (Goa)
India (Himalayas)
Kenya (1)
Kenya (2)
Lesvos (Greece)
Papua New Guinea
Pyrenees (Spain)
Spain (Extremadura)
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Texas (USA)


BRITTANY  (woodpeckers)    24th  -  26th  March  2000


DAY 1     Friday 24th  March

Everyone met at Plymouth ferryport in plenty of time. It didn’t take long before we were through the formalities and on the ship ready to sail to Roscoff. The ferry left a little late but was still scheduled to reach Roscoff at 08.00.

DAY 2   Saturday 25th  March

A fairly calm crossing saw us arrive just as the sun was rising. From the back of the boat we watched Gannet, a Manx Shearwater, some Brent Geese, and a couple of Shelduck as well as most of the commoner gulls. As we docked we found Rock Pipit and White Wagtail. It then took us two hours to drive down to the woods near Rennes. There were some heavy showers en-route but bright sunning gaps looked promising. As soon as we arrived at our site we got out of the minibus and made our way into a close section of wood. Nuthatches could be heard calling and a Middle Spotted Woodpecker was heard but not seen. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was then found and everyone watched it before it flew away over the track. As with the previous three weekends there was no sign of Grey-headed Woodpeckers at the site where they have been for the last ten years, and even after playing a tape to attract the birds there was no response at all. Several Marsh Tits showed well and Short-toed Treecreepers were also spotted. We walked further down the track and searched the area beside an avenue of mature trees, but to no avail. A few faces were looking slightly dejected as the weather was clearly not as nice as the previous trips. We then walked much further than normal to an area of old mature deciduous trees and here our spirits were soon picked up when a pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were soon found, and after they had chased each other around we all enjoyed good telescope views as they sat motionless allowing all their identification features to be seen. After searching the rest of this wood and only finding a Great Spotted, we decided it was time to head back for our picnic lunch. As we came back to an area we had previously searched, and beside a pile of logs, a small green woodpecker flew off and into the trees. It certainly looked interesting in flight, and Simon who had quite a good view of it was happy that it was a Grey-headed. This was soon confirmed by the rest of us when the bird then gave its slightly mournful but wonderful call. We soon located the bird and even though it had now began to shower we all got superb views of this, a stunning male. More than happy we returned to the minibus, drove a hundred yards up the road to a different site and tucked into our food. I was quite dumbfounded that we had found this bird as all the previous weekends had thoroughly searched the same area but with no success. After we had finished our lunch we took a short stroll from our bus and there in the woods I pointed out a large hole in a tree. All of us were then pleasantly surprised to see the head of a male Black Woodpecker look out to see what was going on. He then came out and sat in full view for everyone to see. Well, five species of woodpecker seen and we had only just finished lunch. We decided to walk back and check our earlier site. Crested Tit was found and seen by most of us while Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and some excellent flight views of another Black Woodpecker were had. Back to the minibus and time to search for our last woodpecker. We parked in the road beside some open farmland and in no time at all a Green Woodpecker was watched flying along the field before crossing the road. We had done it! We had seen six species in a single day, excellent! We then decided to try a totally new area of the woodland, somewhere we had never checked before. After a few miles driving we came to an area beside a lake, here we saw Great Crested Grebe and a Kingfisher, and nearby there was another small pond and a good looking wood. We walked to an open area and as a finale to the day we enjoyed several Short-toed Treecreepers, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and then three Black Woodpeckers which chased each other around and sat in full view on top of some dead trees allowing us to see the differences between male and female. As if this wasn’t enough excitement a Red Squirrel was then seen and a Coypu swam across the pond. With everyone more than happy with the day we then made the journey back to Roscoff and our awaiting ferry.

DAY 3   Sunday 26th  March

We all had a good nights sleep and arrived in Plymouth at 08.00 where after disembarking we drove to the car park and said our farewells.   

Steve Bird   

FOR BRITTANY    24th -26th March

SPECIES                                Scientific name
Great Crested Grebe             Podiceps cristatus
Northern Gannet                    Morus bassanus 
Manx Shearwater                  Puffinus puffinus
Great Cormorant                   Phalacrocorax carbo
European Shag                       Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Grey Heron                            Ardea cinerea
Common Shelduck                 Tadorna tadorna
Brent Goose                           Branta bernicla
Common Buzzard                   Buteo buteo
Eurasian Sparrowhawk         Accipiter nisus
Common Kestrel                    Falco tinnunculus
Common Moorhen                 Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot                        Fulica atra
Great Black-backed Gull       Larus marinus
Herring Gull                           Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull     Larus fuscus       
Yellow-legged Gull                 Larus cachinnans michahellis
Black-headed Gull                  Larus ridibundus
Feral Pigeon                            Columba livia (domest.)
Wood Pigeon                           Columba palumbus
Common Kingfisher               Alcedo atthis
Great Spotted Woodpecker   Dendrocopos major
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  Dendrocopos minor
Black Woodpecker                 Dryocopus martius
Grey-headed Woodpecker    Picus canus
Green Woodpecker                Picus viridis
Rock Pipit                               Anthus petrosus
White Wagtail                        Motacilla alba
Winter Wren                          Troglodytes troglodytes
European Robin                      Erithacus rubecula
Common Stonechat                 Saxicola torquata
Eurasian Blackbird                 Turdus merula
Song Thrush                            Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush                          Turdus viscivorus
Redwing                                   Turdus iliacus
Blackcap                                  Sylvia atricapilla
Common Chiffchaff                 Phylloscopus collybita
Goldcrest                                  Regulus regulus
Long-tailed Tit                         Aegithalos caudatus
Marsh Tit                                 Parus palustris
Coal Tit                                    Parus ater 
Crested Tit                               Parus cristatus
Great Tit                                   Parus major
Blue Tit                                     Parus caeruleus
Eurasian Nuthatch                   Sitta europaea
Short-toed Treecreeper           Certhia brachydactyla
Eurasian Jay                            Garrulus glandarius
Black-billed Magpie                 Pica pica
Carrion Crow                           Corvus corone
Rook                                           Corvus frugilegus
Common Starling                      Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow                          Passer domesticus
Chaffinch                                    Fringilla coelebs

TOTAL  =  54

Red Squirrel



birdseekers photos