Friday, 17 September 2010

Within the Pale

Me and Phil had a quick day trip Wednesday for a birding poke round the Calais area, staying well within the old boundaries of what used to be part of England, a fence known as the pale - hence the expression "beyond the pale" I believe!!
Unfortunately it was a poor day by any measure, mostly due to a very strong wind, not helped by a bit of a bump somewhere in Calais, minor damage but even so the bill is going to be £700 or so - bloody hell! I own up to it being my fault too
Anyway, the day list of birds was 47, including a Shag on Dover Harbour wall as we left, Great and Arctic skua on the crossing, and this fine and (for the uk, unusually large) flock of House Sparrows on the cliff edge at Blanc Nez

Around to Gris Nez there was this pleasant view, and nearby there were 4 Curlew and a Buzzard

and at Audresselles there was the most bird-busy spot by the track own to the beach with Whinchat, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit beside the fence, but the wind kept moving them all so no photos here

Near to Wissant we went out into the Sea Buckthorn scrub and struggled through the sand for no birds at all on this flash

A few minutes later on that hilltop over there we found this superb young Wheatear which was so tame it can hardly have seen humans before

Here too were some Butterflies, sheltering from the gale, and lots of dragonflies, Hawkers and Damsels too, but too difficult to photograph well - here's a Red Admirals underside and a couple pics of a Small Copper

On to Bois de Guines for even less  birds, I had hoped for Hawfinch, not even a Chaffinch, doh! Then into the Marais de Guines, a delightfull reserve not unlike Stodmarsh, where we briefly watched a Honey Buzzard fly away out of a pollarded Willow, flushing a real suprise, a Great White Egret into the gale

Back into Calais not a little disappointed, and round to the ferryport where the ship was 90 mins late, the only highlight of the wait being an Atlantic Grey Seal in the harbour as we waited to sail into the sea and spray, a full gale with no birds moving at all now, and so home


  1. Hi Peter, you've made me do some research!
    I thought beyond the pale just applied to Ireland, but although the expression was used there in 1447, it had also been used, as you say, in France the previous century. Since then it has applied in Russia and other places. Glad you mentioned it, I hadn't realised it was a more general expression.