Ruadhri and I joined SEPOL for 2011 – SEPOL being the Société pour l’Etude et la Protection des Oiseaux en Limousin. We got a letter today telling us about a survey aiming to determine how many of two different species of bird there are in France. The birds in question are the Pie-grièche à tête rousse (woodchat shrike) and the Pie-grièche grise (great grey shrike). They are both migratory songbirds.

Pie-grièche à tête rousse

SEPOL wants observers to walk or cycle along the paths and byways of Limousin and look out for these birds and report any sightings, giving as close a map reference as possible. The best time to look is apparently on warm days between April and July, when the parents are feeding their young and insects are more likely to be lively. There are two key target areas for this survey, both in Haute Vienne, but SEPOL wants people all over Limousin to take part so that they can get as much information as possible. Sounds like a fun thing to do!

More news from SEPOL is that winter 2010/11 saw 130,000 grey cranes – my beloved grues – flying over the area. Me and another 179 observers sent in 762 reports about sightings. This figure doesn’t take night flights into account (no-one sees those). And for the second year running, between 20 and 30 cranes overwintered in Creuse. I wouldn’t mind them staying in our fields!

Daily snippets for 6th May

Today’s saint: Saint Prudence

Famous French person born this day: in 1868 Gaston Leroux, journalist, writer – author of Phantom of the Opera

Famous French person who died this day: in 1951, Elie Cartan, mathematician

Today’s word: un vol nocturne – night flight

Today’s saying – in English this time: If it’s windy on St Prudence Day, the silly sheep will dance away.