It's an unremarkable part of the world (although admittedly, it's quite pretty!) - a km or so of road through rural south west Franceshire, but my one or two visits per year have thrown the odd surprise my way.
On my first ever trip, in winter, I was delighted to find rock buntings hopping around in the stubble fields among cirl buntings, and big flocks of chaffinches and Brambling with the odd serin thrown in for good measure. Flocks of woodlarks went over occasionally and the odd hen harrier and Merlin spooked the masses. More recent winters have also delivered close encounters and some real quality time with hawfinches - a species I don't see enough if at home.
However, the biggest surprises have been during passage. Being an east coast birder I'm familiar with falls, but I'd had no prior experience of them inland. After heavy rain in spring and autumn you can pretty much guarantee that there will be a smattering of interesting additions to the local black redstarts and blackcaps. I've a theory about why this happens - the proximity of the Pyrenees must play a role, blocking birds on their way south in autumn, and creating blocking weather for those that set off northbound from the sunnier side of the chain in spring. Why it happens is not too important though - it's just great to be there when it does! Nightingale, pied flycatcher, wryneck, melodious warbler are regular and can appear overnight in good numbers. More recent additions to the patch list on my last trip included whitethroat and red backed shrike, and other one offs have been golden oriole, redstart, Montagu's harrier, tree pipit, and water pipit. Not a bad selection for a few walks down a lane!
Do you have a second patch? Mine keeps me entertained on holiday, has given me loads of pleasant surprises, and made me think about the mechanisms behind migration and falls in a context far removed from that I'm used to. It's also inspired me to get into butterflies - which take up as much of my time as the birds do these days when I'm in France these days. Patching can add so much to your holidays, as well as your time at home!