Day trip Bagnas – St Pons de Mauchiens

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

 

Day trip Gruissan April 2022

Day trip 12th April 2022 – Gruissan

Guide of the day: Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson
Participants: 10
Weather conditions: Cloudy all day with a fresh onshore wind. Temps ranging from 10°C to 16°C.

Highlights of the day: White stork (on the nest and bill clapping), Marsh harrier, Yellow wagtail, Purple heron, Woodchat shrike

We started with reed beds, nesting White stork, Purple heron and a very shy Purple swamphen… and ended the day in a quarry ogling a beautiful male Blue rock thrush with a dazzling blue head! Saltpans, waders, vineyards and Woodchat shrike and so much more in between!
Varied habitats and a wide variety of 70 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 and bird list 2022.12.04 – Gruissan

 

Thekla’s lark

French name: Cochevis de Thékla

Scientific name: Galerida theklae

Interesting information

This species is very similar to the Crested lark. To distinguish them, the Thekla’s lark has a shorter beak with pectoral stripes that are more distinct than the Crested lark. In its strongholds, identification is simplified by knowing where one is found without the other!

Call and song

The song is very close to that of the Crested lark, but the Thekla’s song is more fluted and  with shorter sentences.

Distribution and habitat

If the Crested lark can be found in garrigue habitat as well as in agricultural plain, the Thekla’s lark will prefer more wild scrubland and dry steppes. It requires very open landscape with dry grassland where it will make its nest on the ground. The nest is well camouflaged in the Brachypodium retusum or bunch grass. This species is strictly Mediterranean with populations confined to the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales. The population strongholds are very localised in the limestone hills of the coastal Corbières, Villesèque-des-Corbières, Port-la-Nouvelle, Salses and Rivesaltes.

Distribution maps: region and county

Breeding birds Atlas – Languedoc Roussillon (2012-2021) – source: faune-lr.org

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

Conservation status and population trends

The French population is estimated at 270 to 430 pairs. But numbers are declining across the species’ distribution. For example, in the Corbieres hills, there was a 26% decrease in the number of pairs between 1996 and 2009. With this decline and low numbers, the Thekla’s lark is now considered to be in danger on both the national and regional red lists.

When to see this species in the Languedoc-Roussillon

The Thekla’s lark is visible all year round. Like most sedentary breeders, it is more demonstrative in spring. The graph below shows the average numbers of Thekla’s lark seen in the Languedoc by month.

Black-eared wheatear

French name: Traquet oreillard

Scientific name: Oenanthe hispanica

Interesting information

This species is easy to identify: its cream colour contrasting with black cheeks, throat and wings. The female is much less contrasted with the wings, cheek and throat tending be more brown rather than black. It therefore has a more overall brownish appearance.

Call and song

Distribution and habitat

The Black-eared wheatear prefers open arid environments. A patchwork of bare soil, rocky outcrops or dry stone walls, as well as clean vegetation is essential to its presence.
In France, 90 % of the population is in the  Languedoc-Roussillon region and mainly in the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales departments.
In the Aude, the population is declining and is confined to the dry grassland and low scrubland of the coastal fringe.

Distribution maps: region and county

Breeding birds Atlas – Languedoc Roussillon (2012-2021) – source: faune-lr.org

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

Conservation status and population trends

With less than 500 breeding pairs in France, this species is considered rare. A decline of 40 to 70% of the population has been observed since 1999. That’s why the IUCN Red List considers this species as endangered in France and in the region. The main threats are related to the gradual closure of its habitats (abandonment of pastoralism and maintenance of garrigues, reduction of fires).

When to see this species in the Languedoc-Roussillon

The Black-eared wheatear can be seen in the Languedoc from mid-April. It leaves for its winter quarters at the end of August/September. The graph below shows the average numbers of Black-eared wheatear seen in the Languedoc by month.

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