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

La Calade b&b, Montouliers, Hérault

La Calade offers B&B accommodation in Montouliers, Hérault – but you can also rent the whole house

At La Calade you will find 4 beautiful, sunny bedrooms. All of them have fabulous en-suite bathrooms. You can also enjoy the large bright lounge, dining room, kitchen and sunny garden. The rooms can be booked separately or all together to make the most of spending time with family and friends

You’ll be made to feel welcome as soon as you arrive at La Calade and you’ll be well looked after during your stay – enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast in the secluded garden, discover local wine during a wine-tasting in the bar area or spend an evening chatting over a sharing platter.

Enjoy some amazing birdwatching in the area!

From Montouliers you can easily get to Minerve where from mid November to March you have a chance of seeing Wallcreeper, Crag martin, Blue rock thrush, and depending on water levels Dipper, Grey wagtail and Kingfisher. In the spring and summer a whole range of birds return to breed in this area including Golden oriole, Roller, Bee eater and Great spotted cuckoo on the Aude River Plain. The reed beds at Portiragnes and the coastal lagoons of the Narbonnaise offer different habitats again. Here you might spot Great reed warbler and Penduline tit amongst others. Or check out the Flamingoes and other shorebirds and waders in Gruissan.

You will find plenty more resources for independant birdwatching in the DIY birding section of this website. And why not book yourselves in at La Calade and join us for a couple of day trips! You will find the day trip programme on the Calendar page.

Find out more and make a booking directly with La Calade B&B

La Calade twin room

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

 

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

 

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