Gourmet spring birding and wine in the Languedoc

Tour dates: Monday 16th to Monday 23rd May 2022

Tour code: BLMGBW-22

This trip is developed in partnership with the Narbonnaise regional park.

A week-long tour that combines some superb birding (most of the emblematic Mediterranean species) with exceptional accommodation at a 4*  hotel serving top food and the opportunity to taste some great Languedoc wines – a truly unique combination!

  • 8 days / 7 nights
  • From €1680 per person
  • 50€ Discount for travel by train
  • Local  expert birding guide
  • English speaking tour leader
  • Group size 6 – 12

Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.

Our Partners for this trip

This week-long trip combines the highlights of the birding season in the Western Mediterranean, unique accommodation, gourmet food made with local produce and the opportunity to enjoy some excellent Languedoc wines!

An exceptional opportunity to see many of the emblematic Mediterranean species, whilst at the same time enjoying some creature comforts!

After the challenging times of the past few months, we think you deserve a treat!

The programme may be changed or re-arranged to take advantage of the weather conditions or other last minute birding opportunities!

Monday

Transfer from Carcassonne airport / train station to our accommodation at
the
Hotel 19-21 in Leucate

Welcome drinks & early dinner 

Evening outing to try and spot Eagle owl

 

Tuesday

Aude river plain &
Coastal lagoons
We start the day inland amongst a patchwork of flood meadows and steppe habitat  looking for Little bustard, Great spotted cuckoo,  Woodchat shrike and
Golden oriole.

The open pasture and vineyards near the Aude river should add Hoopoe, Lesser kestrel, Bee-eater, Roller and Spotted flycatcher with Ortolan bunting a bonus if we are lucky.

We will picnic in Fleury as we watch the Lesser kestrel  swirl around over the village roofs.

Then it’s over to the coast to check out some filtration ponds for various terns and Purple heron, plus the nearby reed-beds for Moustached warbler, Bearded reedling, Great reed warbler. Open patches of samphire and low shrubs offer a good chance of seeing Yellow wagtail and other passerines resting on migration. We may also spot the Bonelli’s eagle hunting in this area.
Then we will explore the lagoons of the northern Narbonnaise regional park, where we will be looking for waders, gulls and terns including Kentish plover, Slender-billed gull, Audouin’s gull, together with Gull-billed, Caspian and Little tern…

We will also

Wednesday

Migration, “garrigue”, vineyards & lagoons
If the prevailing NW wind is blowing, we’ll start at the spectacular south facing migration spot above Leucate-Plage where we will watch birds fly along the narrow strip of land between lagoon and sea as they migrate north. Species we may see include: Bee-eater, Honey buzzard, Osprey, a wide variety of hirundines including possibly Red-rumped swallow, plus Common, Pallid and Alpine swift, Serin, Yellow wagtail… We may also see  various pelagic species such as Yelkouan shearwater, which move
around the Mediterranean
on feeding trips!

Then we’ll have a walk around the garrigue habitat of the Leucate headland where we may see nesting species such
as: Tawny pipit, Black-eared wheatear, Hoopoe, Spotless starling, Sardinian warbler, Orphean warbler, Great spotted
cuckoo, Woodchat shrike, Corn bunting, Cirl bunting, Serin and Crested lark.
Coffee stop in Leucate, before we head along  a back road through the vineyards looking for Crested lark, Woodchat shrike and possibly Great-spotted cuckoo and Greater short-toed lark, before moving on to explore the salt-pans for Little tern, Avocet, Black-winged stilt, Kentish plover, Purple heron, Greater flamingo, Slender-billed gull…
And if we have time we can continue on up the hill to look for Blue rock thrush, Black-eared wheatear, Dartford and Subalpine warblers.

 

Thursday

Inland garrigue and vineyards
More mixed habitat looking for Orphean, Sardinian, Dartford and Subalpine warblers, Black-eared wheatear, Tawny pipit, Ortolan bunting, Thekla’s lark, Crested lark, Rock sparrow and Short-toed eagle

Coffee break

Former ochre quarry: Rock sparrow, Black-eared wheatear + Ortolan bunting, Bee-eater and Roller on  migration. Other active migration possible: Honey buzzard, Black kite…)

Picnic at quarry

Inland agricultural plains
Thekla’s lark, Woodchat shrike, Black-eared wheatear

Coastal orchards
We will finish the day checking out the Roller nesting boxes installed by a local birding organisation near some  orchards (they like stone fruit!), so we have a very good chance of seeing them.

There are also some reed beds we can check out too and the surrounding wild flower meadows are also known for  a range of orchids.

 

Friday

Marshes, reed-beds, vineyards & migration
After checking out the White stork nest and the Grey heronry, we may also have a look around the St Louis marsh/reed beds to look for Bearded reedling, Purple heron, Moustached warbler, Reed warbler and
Great reed warbler.
After a coffee break if the prevailing NW wind is blowing, we will have a look at the spring migration spot on the Ayrolle lagoon where  birds skim low over the water on their way north.
Birds to spot include: Montagu’s harrier, Bee-eater, White and Black stork and occasional rarities such as Pallid harrier.
The vineyards are good for Hoopoe, Black-eared wheatear, Rock sparrow and Sardinian warbler.
We will end the day having a look for Pallid swift and seeing if the terns are on the nest at the nearby beach.

 

Saturday

Cliffs & Galamus gorge
As we drive up into the Corbières we may stop on the way if we spot a Golden eagle and to have a look at some orchids! Then a walk through the charming village of Bugarach and along a stream will hopefully get us a decent view of Red-backed shrike.

Coffee break in the village.

Today’s main focus however,
is the vulture observation platform. This provides good views of some cliffs where a group of Griffon vulture roost.  Egyptian vulture and Lammergeier are also present occasionally.  We will picnic here and the area around the platform may well turn up Cirl bunting and Red-backed shrike.

After lunch we will drive down the spectacular Galamus Gorge where we’ll be looking out for Alpine swifts, Crag martins,
Blue rock thrush and Peregrine falcon.

 

Sunday

Mixed agricultural and steppe habitat & rocky escarpments
We start out exploring that area around a small airfield known for Little bustard, but also Stone curlew, Greater short-toed lark, Tawny pipit, Iberian grey shrike, Great spotted cuckoo and various raptors on migration e.g. Montagu’s harrier, Eleonora’s falcon.
After a picnic lunch near the river, we will head up into the hills where there is a good spot for Bee-eater, Subalpine warbler and Common rock thrush. This is good raptor country too and we have previously seen Short-toed eagle, Golden eagle, Griffon vulture…

Monday

Some morning birding before transfers to station / airport for departure.

 

Bee-eater, Roller, Golden oriole, Woodchat shrike, Iberian shrike, Blue rock thrush, Common rock thrush, White stork, Woodchat shrike, Ortolan bunting, Lesser kestrel, Spotted flycatcher, Black-winged stilt,

 

• Bird list from 2018

• Bird list from 2017 

 

 

 

By train!
Come by train and choose the “low carbon birding” option!
You can get a train from London to Narbonne via Paris or Lille.
See the Getting here page in our DIY birding section for more information or contact us directly.

By plane
Transfers are included from Carcassonne airport and nearer the time we will give details below of the flights we meet as part of the included transfer.
Other transfer options may be available, but may incur an additional cost, please contact us with you preferred departure airport in the UK.

Click on the links below for flight details and pricing (you can track the price to get the best deal!).

We recommend that you do NOT book your flights until the trip is confirmed!

• Manchester <-> Carcassonne

Stansted <-> Carcassonne

 

INCLUDED

  • Transfers from / to Carcassonne airport or train station
    or Narbonne train station
  • All local transport
  • High quality ensuite accommodation
  • 7 nights full board
  • Wine with dinner
  • Expert local guides
  • English speaking tour leader

NOT INCLUDED

  • Flights
  • Cancellation insurance
  • Personal medical and repatriation insurance
  • Aperitifs and drinks other than wine with dinner
  • Personal expenses
  • Lunch on the first and last days

This trip explores the Narbonnaise regional park

The team for this trip combines the expert knowledge of a local ornithologist and a resident British tour leader for the logistics.

Karline Martorell - Independent Guide

Karline Martorell - Independent Guide

Local Expert Bird Guide – French, English & Esperanto

Drawn to wildlife conservation from very young, Karline studied Biodiversity Analysis and Surveying Techniques. She continues to be an active naturalist, with a particular interest in birds, reptiles and amphibians. Particularly passionate about birds, Karline volunteers for migration counting and bird ringing. A few wildlife trips abroad have helped widen her knowledge base and she currently works part time for a consultancy firm specialised in ecological impact studies, doing surveys of birdlife and herpetology.

Philippa Benson - Birding Languedoc

Philippa Benson - Birding Languedoc

Co-founder/Tour Leader – English, French & Spanish

Like many Brits, Philippa has a keen interest in natural history and enjoys learning about the amazing birds and wildlife of the Languedoc. Resident in this lovely area for over 15 years, she now has a good working knowledge of where the best spots are for birds, flowers and other species and enjoys sharing these with interested visitors.
A background in project management and hospitality combined with being fully bilingual are helpful skills for organising and hosting tours, and Philippa has a particular focus on customer service!

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