Birding day trip Salses – La Salanque April 2024

A male Ferruginous duck was today’s highlight!

The day started with the group exploring the edge of the Salses lagoon with salt marsh, some filtration ponds (always good for birding) and the reed beds. A range of waders were found and a splendid male Ferruginous was the morning’s highlight and a lifer for some in the group.

Then a complete change for some steppe habitat just inland, which added Greater short-toed lark, Crested lark and Corn bunting to the list. The day finished with an area where we were hoping to see the first Roller and Little owl – but we dipped on both…  A group of migrating White stork, Black kite, Red kite and two Stone curlews saved the day!

 

You can read or download the trip report with bird list here.

Birding day trip Les Coussoules & La Palme March 2024

More Great spotted cuckoos!

Today’s day trip was somewhat of a challenge with the high water levels reducing the muddy margins at La Franqui to a point where not many waders were feeding. On our walk along the Coussoules area of low dunes between the lagoon and the sea, we did however manage to find a group of three or four noisy Great spotted cuckoos. All the group managed to get good views. Some were also interested in the Mediterranean tree frog sunning itself on the branch of a bush (not something you expect an amphibian to do – but then they are called “tree frogs”! On our way back to the cars Karline found us a beautiful Edwards’ sand racer that cooperated for the photographers.
We had a rather breezy picnic overlooking the lagoon at La Franqui and a cup of coffee before heading off to the salt pans at La Palme. We enjoyed looking at the Kentish plovers, Little stint and Avocets and Slender-billed gulls. Migration was slow but we did see a pair of Short-toed eagles and an Osprey before finishing the day looking for the Blue rock thrush at the old quarry. The male had already been seen in the distance from the salt pans, and the female was added to the list.

You can read or download the trip report here.

Birding day trip Ouveillan-Capestang March 2024

The Great spotted cuckoos are back!

On our recent birding day trip around Ouveillan and Capestang we were very happy to find Great spotted cuckoo. The GSC is a species in serious decline, so it is always a relief to find them at the beginning of a new season! A few early birders managed to get good views, with their noisy antics drawing our attention as soon as we arrived! Sadly, they did not stay around long enough for the rest of the day’s participants to see them.

We did however all get decent views of a lovely male Little bustard in his breeding finery. We then managed to add Stone curlew in flight and later on the ground. As we looped back to the lovely ruins of the Fontcalvy grain store, we were thrilled to get good views of Little owl. At the end of the morning, Steve managed to pick up the Iberian grey shrike – another species in decline. But the heat haze made it very difficult to see. A discussion about the identification of a male harrier was resolved when it was seen for a second time and confirmed as a Hen harrier (and not a Montagu’s as initially thought).

After a picnic in the shade, we moved on to the Capestang marshes. But after two years of drought there was very little water. A Penduline tit was one of few reed bed birds we managed to see. Migrating birds added interest the afternoon by providing good views of both Black and White stork, plus Black kite, Red kite and Short-toed eagle. Also several large groups of Glossy ibis (with 30-60 in each group we must have seen well over 200 coming into land in the marshes).

You can read or download the trip report here.

Winter Wallcreeper Break 2024 Trip report

Another successful winter birdwatching trip looking for Wallcreeper in the Languedoc!

The 2024 edition of our Winter Wallcreeper break has extended our success rate of finding the elusive Wallcreeper for a fifth year. This alpine species migrates to lower altitudes with some individuals  over-wintering in the Languedoc between November and March. Thanks to the group’s collective scrutiny of rock faces (and our skillful guide) we managed to find three individuals at three different sites, which allowed all members of the group to get distant views! The new extended version of this trip now includes a wider range of  habitats and offers some very varied birding and spectacular landscapes. During this fun 6-day trip in early March with a very international group, we managed to chalk up a grand total of 95 species – not at all bad for this time of year!

See the Winter Wallcreeper Break 2024 Trip report for more details and the bird list.

If you are interested in joining the 2025 Winter Wallcreeper trip, please contact us here.

BL Autumn social gathering 2023

The 2023 Birding Languedoc Autumn Social Gathering

Many thanks to all the lovely of people who attended our second annual gathering at the village hall in Saint Frichoux on Sunday November 5th, and sorry that some of you couldn’t make it! After coffee and biscuits, Philippa gave a presentation about Birding Languedoc / La Nature du Sud, with a quick recap of the highlights of 2023 and an overview of what is planned for 2024. The 2024 programme includes 12 birding day trips, (bookings are now open) and three (possibly four) residential trips. Also various Escapades (short trips away) and possible extras such as a Wildlife Photography course and a Pelagic trip. This was followed by a very interesting presentation  covering 20 years of results of an annual survey of common birds called the STOC (Suivi Temporel des Oiseaux Communs). Karline Martorell (our main BL guide) teased out some of the more surprising results – highlighting some of the species in decline and the ones on the rise. She also highlighted the difference between the results for France and the results for Occitanie. The results were a bit scary… but interesting nonetheless. You can download a copy of Karline’s presentation here.  We are also keen to share information about what the general public can do to help curb the decline in some species. More on this soon!

If you weren’t able to join us this year, we very much hope you can make it for our annual gathering in November 2024!

Wildlife Occitanie – a great success

At last year’s meeting we all agreed that it would be good to have somewhere to share what we have seen. This gave rise to the very successful Wildlife Occitanie Facebook group page, where those interested in all kinds of wildllife can share photos and ask for help with identifying what they have seen.

An unexpected range of habitats & species

After a delicious lunch washed down by some equally delicious wine from Les Fenals near Leucate (they have Hoopoe and Golden oriole around the property most years!) – Niall Corbet had the difficult* task of presenting a slideshow illustrating the surprising range of habitats and species he had not been expecting when coming to live in the south of France two and a half years ago! (*difficult because after lunch is always the hard spot with people nodding off!).

La Calade twin room

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