After two outstanding winters, 2017 counting falls back down to a more classical level. Indeed the huge voles’ populations between 2014 and 2016 enhanced the great red kite wintering, but the voles population collapsed in spring 2016. Only the “Chataigneraie catalienne” seems to still offer such conditions and hosted a good wintering. Early November snow chased some birds but December was mild with little snow which melted rather quickly (except in La Planèze de Saint-Flour). The persistent frozen soil during the counting week obviously disturbed the birds, and led to an important roosts mobility. Furthermore, it seems that migrating birds from central Europe chased some of the local species. Therefore, the number of birds might have been underestimated, especially in west Cantal and Haute-Loire. An intense fog complicated the counting on the biggest roost in Puy-de-Dôme. Read more here (French).
Romain Riols, LPO Auvergne