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.

Day trip Bagnas – St Pons de Mauchiens July 22

Day trip 7th July 2022 – Bagnas Nature Reserve and St Pons de Mauchiens

Guide: Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson. Also Guilhem Duvergé for the Bagnas Nature Reserve
Participants: 12
Weather conditions: A hot and sunny hot day saved by a moderate to a strong wind, temps ranging from 25°C to 32°C

Highlights of the day: Lesser kestrel, Purple swamphen, Whiskered tern, Avocet, Black-winged stilt

We spent the morning on a private visit to the Bagnas Nature Reserve enjoying a very well managed wetland area with large open areas of water surrounded by high quality reed beds. There were plenty of Whiskered terns and we also had excellent views of Purple swamphen out in the open with young. Plenty of Greater flamingo and a Purple heron too.
Then after a rather superior lunch break (eating our picnic in the shade chez Withers – merci Karen and Andy) we headed off to nearby St Pons de Mauchiens to enjoy the endless antics of the Lesser kestrel as we looked down onto the roof tops.

What a great way to end an amazing season of day trips! Thanks to all who participated 🙂

You can read read and download the full trip report and bird list via the link below and don’t hesitate to share the link 🙂

Trip report Bagnas – St Pons de Mauchiens 2022


Day trip Béziers – Portiragnes – Lespignan April 2022

Day trip 22nd April 2022 – Béziers airport – Portiragnes – Lespignan

Guide: Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson
Participants: 5
Weather conditions: Mostly sunny with light winds and temps ranging from 10°C to 20°C.

Highlights of the day: Little bustard (good views in flight and on the ground), Bearded tit, Whiskered and Black tern, Lesser kestrel

Starting with both ends of Béziers airport, we were treated to a flight of 40 Little bustard, disturbed by a Marsh harrier. Also Tawny pipit and Corn bunting.
We then moved on to the reed beds and lagoons at Portiragnes, via a very active lush meadow with a lovely group of very glossy Glossy ibis, showing their bronze and green highlights and accompanied by a very active group of Jackdaw. At the reedbeds we enjoyed watching the Whiskered and Black terns in the distance (a tower hide would be perfect here!) and managed to get a glimpse of a male Bearded tit.
To end the day we moved on to Lespignan, a typical old Languedoc village with pan-tile roofs that provide good nesting opportunities for the growing colony of Lesser kestrel. A success story as they were reintroduced in nearby Fleury d’Aude and are now colonising other villages in the area!
Varied habitats and a wide variety of 76 species in total.

Read the full trip report and bird list via the link below and don’t hesitate to share the link 🙂

Trip report Bézier – Portiragnes – Lespignan 22nd April 2022


Aerial displays of terns, swifts and Lesser kestrel

Day trip 29th June 2021 – Réserve national du Bagnas & St Pons de Mauchiens

Guides of the day:Lætitia Marras pour la Réserve du Bagnas and Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson
Participants: 10
Weather conditions: Sunny with a light breeze, ideal for the end of June, temps ranging from 18°C to 28°C+

Highlights of the day: Aerial displays of terns, swifts and Lesser kestrel provided a grand finale to the Birding Languedoc Spring 2021 season! Excellent views of Purple swamphen and Pallid swift were also very rewarding.

The Réserve nationale du Bagnas is reputed for being a great place to see Purple swamphen and it did not disappoint! We had excellent views of several individuals out in the open and even saw a young one. The terns were another highlight of this vast wetland reserve (only accessible through guided visits), with five species present: Common, Little, Black, Gull-billed and Whiskered tern. A few Pallid swift were spotted amongst the constant ballet of Common swift not far above our heads. And who can resist a “humbug” Great crested grebe chick hitching a lift on a parent seemingly keen to get rid of its young load!
The Lesser kestrels gave us a fantastic display in the afternoon at St Pons de Mauchiens, with close-up views allowing us to see the variety of prey they were bringing to the nest. These stunning birds were then photo bombed by a Short-toed snake eagle sucking up a snake like a piece of spaghetti mid-flight!

What a wonderful finale to a spring season that offered a combination of great birding and great company.
Thank you to all those who joined us, sharing our passion for the wonderful birds and other wildlife of the Languedoc!

You can read and download the detailed trip report and bird list by clicking on the link below.


Trip report and bird list 2021.29.06 Réserve nationale du Bagnas & St Pons de Mauchiens

Birding day trip around Portiragnes

Day trip 12th May 2021 – A real bonanza of birds with good views of top species!

Guide of the day: Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson
Participants: 6
Weather conditions: Clear windless weather all day, temps ranging from 11°C to 19°C+

Highlights of the day: Little bustard, Collared pratincole, Great reed warbler and Reed warbler (both heard and seen), Purple swamphen (out in the open again!),  Black-winged stilt (good close views), Caspian tern, Purple heron, Lesser kestrel…

Starting with superb views of a displaying male Little bustard in full view, the day just got better and better!
With interesting birds in every direction and new ones appearing every couple of minutes – the excitement was exhilarating. We topped our list at a more than respectable 75 species and had a really good day – and I suspect everyone slept well!

Just click on the link below to read or download the detailed trip report and bird list.


Trip report and bird list 2021.12.05 Portiragnes


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