Day trip 28th May 2021 – Feathers, scales and prickles!
Guide of the day: Karline Martorell accompanied by Philippa Benson and Dominique Jalabert
Weather conditions: agreeably overcast with little wind, temps ranging from 19°C to 23°C+
Highlights of the day: Black-eared wheatear, Woodchat shrike, Tawny pipit, Thekla’s lark, Golden oriole, Zygaena lavandulae, Three-toed skink, Lizard orchid and a large number of cacti, agaves, dasylirions and yucca!
This day trip was sponsored by the Narbonnaise regional park as part of a programme called Découvrons ENSemble, which consists of over 180 free natural history outings organised by the Aude département and the regional park.
We spent the morning searching for summer-visiting garrigue birds such as Black-eared wheatear, Woodchat shrike, plus Orphean, Subalpine and Spectacled warblers (not all very cooperative – singing well but skulking in trees and shrubs). Karline explained the different strata used by each species: Sardinian and Dartford in the lowest shrubs, Subalpine and Spectacled (rare) in the mid-sized bushes, with the largest of all the warblers present locally – Orphean- to be found in the taller bushes and shrubs and even in small to mid-sized trees. This might help narrow the options when you see a bird skulking!
As we arrived back in the village, a Golden oriole was showing well just opposite the winery where we had a mid-day break tasting 3 wines by the characterful Alban Michel from the Sabots d’Hélène.
Then we enjoyed our picnic with a curious Woodchat shrike before visiting the family-run Jardin Botanique de Foncaude with founder Dominique Jalabert. Over the past 30 years, with the help of family and friends, Dominique has planted over 2,000 species across 7 hectares in a wild, natural setting amongst the rocky garrigue habitat. As we visited the botanical garden, we were able to add scales (a Three-toed skink and a Water snake) and prickles (cacti, agaves etc.) to the morning’s feathers!
Just click on the link below to read or download the detailed trip report and bird list.