Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Golden Orioles in Gagnac

In the last two weeks there has been a pair of male Golden Orioles calling from the woods across the valley.  I have yet to see them and they don’t seem to call every day.  Perhaps they sing only in warm weather but they have been spotted not far away having a fight in the trees. Confusingly the french word for Oriole is Loriot (you don't pronounce the t).

The male is striking in the typical oriole black and yellow plumage, but the female is a drabber green bird. Orioles are shy, and even the male is remarkably difficult to see in the dappled yellow and green leaves of the canopy.  There are very few good videos of them on Youtube.
I wasn’t aware that they are in this part of France but this  Wikipedia article states that their breeding range extends from Portugal, Spain and France across the United Kingdom and Scandinavia to Poland, Russia, the Balkans, Turkey and West Asia to the Caucasus up to Mongolia and China. They winter in central and southern Africa. They generally migrate during the night, but may travel during the day in the spring migration. During the fall migration they migrate via the Eastern Mediterranean where they feed on fruit; they are often considered a pest in this region because of this.

Their call is a screech like a jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard. It carries a long way and this morning one could be clearly heard in the distance.

The Eurasian Golden Oriole inhabits a range of habitats. In Western Europe they prefer open broadleaf forests and plantations, copses, riverine forest, orchards and large gardens; in Eastern Europe they may inhabit more continuous forest as well as mixed or coniferous forests. They generally avoid treeless habitats but may forage there. In their wintering habitat they are fond in semi-arid to humid woodland, tall forests, riverine forest, woodland/savanna mosaic and savanna.
They feed on insects and fruit. They build neat nests in tree forks and lay 3-6 eggs.
I hope that they keep coming back to Gagnac.