Birding day trip Aude river plain May 2024

Lesser kestrels galore!

For today’s Global Birding big day – we spent most of the day around the Aude river plain where the mixed habitat of river, riparian forest, vineyard and uncultivated fields is host to a wide variety of birds. We finished the day on the coast near the Pissevaches lagoon and the filtration ponds, reaching a total number of 68 species seen or heard.
The morning started with a superb view of  a striking male Woodchat shrike which landed on a pine tree  just next to the cars. As we continued our walk around the Aude river flood plain, we were thrilled with the number of Lesser kestrels hunting the area…

Read more or download the trip report with a full bird list here.

Golden oriole

Golden oriole male –  © P.Gourdon

French name: Loriot d’Europe 

Scientific name: Oriolus oriolus

Interesting information

The male is bright yellow with black wings while the female is duller. The young look like the female with a duller yellow on the back and a white breast streaked with black. If its song is heard from afar, the Golden oriole remains very shy and is rarely well seen.

Call and song

The call is a screech like a jay, but the song is really melodious and sounds like a tropical bird.

Distribution and habitat

Aude river - © K.Martorell

This summer visitor appreciates deciduous trees. In the region, it is often associated with riparian forest and is therefore at the edge of wetlands. The nest is built at the top of a tree and looks like a kind of hammock. It feeds on insects and fruit.
Locally, the Golden oriole is present throughout the region and the Aude department but absent at altitude and in north Lozere.

Distribution maps: region and county

Breeding birds Atlas – Languedoc Roussillon (2012-2021) – source:

Breeding birds Atlas – Aude (2012) – source: LPO11

Conservation status and population trends

The population trend in Europe appears to be stable. In France, despite significant inter-annual fluctuations related to weather conditions, the populations are stable or even increasing. The IUCN red list for the Languedoc-Roussillon considers the species as least concern (quite common in the region). Golden oriole does not seem threatened and is quite common at the moment.

When to see this species in the Languedoc-Roussillon

The Golden oriole can be seen in the Languedoc from mid-April but especially early May. It leaves for its winter quarters at the end of August. The graph below shows the average numbers of Golden oriole seen in the Languedoc by month.

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