Plaine de Roussillon

Posted on May 20, 2013

Yesterday I drove to Montpellier to meet a Frenchman called Patrick, then we carried on south to a Roller nestbox site which he’s involved in monitoring. It’s just north of Perpignan, in the shadow of the Pyrenees – a pretty fantastic location.

The rain in Spain

The rain in Spain

It’s a bit more picturesque than the Vallee de Baux, with more vineyards & orchards and fewer rice paddies & cereal fields. There are lots of nestboxes and natural cavities, which host breeding Roller, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Jackdaw, Starling, Spotless Starling & Scops Owl. We didn’t see the latter 2 species, but found a Little Owl on eggs and lots of Jackdaw chicks. Lots of Rollers about, including several ringed individuals, but no sign of any eggs yet. This means that breeding is delayed compared to last year, despite the earlier arrival this year – probably something to do with all this rain… No sign of any geolocators either, but Patrick reassured me that it’s very difficult to read Roller colour rings without a hide – so tomorrow I’m off to Decathlon to buy some camo netting! We also saw some unexpected residents checking out a nestbox – a pair of cockatoos!

Unwelcome visitors

Unwelcome visitors

Towards the south of the site, the nestboxes are all on pilons, and pretty much all of them are occupied, the majority by Rollers – the 3 lines of pilons are known as ‘Roller Street’, ‘Roller Avenue’ and ‘Roller Highway’. 

Roller highway

Roller highway

Rollier

Rollier

This afternoon, back in Provence, I set up 36 pitfall traps, as well doing some sweep net and visual invertebrate transects. The weather was grand, but my body is punishing me for spending 5 hours running through clouds of pollen.

Pitfall traps

Pitfall traps

Back in Provence

Back in Provence