Spring birding & flowers in the Western Mediterranean
with Dominic Couzens
Tour dates: Monday 25th to Friday 29th April 2022
Tour code: BLASBF-22
Enjoy a spring birding break in the coastal Corbières with active migration and Mediterranean wild flowers.
Dominic Couzens will be our special guest guide.
- 5 days / 4 nights
- From 960€ per person
- Low carbon discount of €50 if you travel by train
- Expert local bird and flower guides & English speaking tour leader
- Group size = 6 – 12
Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.
A spring break exploring the lagoons, vineyards and upland habitats of garrigue in the coastal Corbières for resident species (Blue rock thrush, Sardinian and Dartford warblers, Kentish plover…) but also all the newly-arrived summer nesting visitors (Short-toed eagle, Orphean warbler, Subalpine warbler,…). This is also a wonderful time of year for wild flowers and we should see a good variety of orchids and other garrigue species.
The programme may be modified to take advantage of weather and other variables.
Transfer to accommodation
Welcome drinks & early dinner before heading back out to a good local spot for Eagle owl
Departure after breakfast and transfer to departure points.
(birding opportunities on the way time permitting!).
Coastal dunes and lagoons
Picnic at La Franqui while we look out onto the lagoon for Slender billed gull, Black-winged stilt, Kentish plover, Little tern + other gulls and shore birds.
As we take a back road through the vineyards we will stop and have a look for Greater short-toed lark (possibly a bit early…)
La Palme salt pans
Inland garrigue and vineyards
The open grassy areas are perfect habitat for a range of orchids and other wild flowers including Ophrys lutea, Ophrys scolopax, Muscari comosum, Tulipa australis (possibly a little late..),
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
Opoul agricultural plains
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.
The edges of the aerodrome are also good for serapias and Ocellated lizard.
Then we will head up into the hills enjoying our picnic by a river on the way.
Our next stop will be near a Bee-eater nesting site where we should see a few recent arrivals. Then we will head further up into the hills where we will be looking for Subalpine warbler, Dartford warbler and Common cuckoo. This is also a good spot for raptors (Golden eagle, Griffon or even Black vulture) and active migration may also add to the day’s list. There is also a outside chance of seeing the (not so) Common rock thrush!
We will be looking for resident Mediterranean species, summer nesting arrivals and other birds on active migration…
We will visit coastal lagoons and sea cliffs, vineyards and open agricultural land, upland garrigue and craggy limestone escarpments. Birds
Local resident species include: Blue rock thrush, Bonelli’s eagle, Crag martin, Crested lark, Eagle owl, Glossy ibis, Kentish plover, Rock sparrow, Sardinian warbler, Serin, Slender-billed gull, Spotless starling, Thekla’s lark, Zitting cisticola…
Summer breeding species include: Bee-eater, Black-eared wheatear, Black-winged stilt, Great spotted cuckoo, Hoopoe, Orphean warbler, Short-toed eagle, Subalpine warbler, Tawny pipit, Woodchat shrike…
On migration we will be looking for: Bee-eater, Black kite, Booted eagle, Common crane, Greater flamingo, various hirundines including Alpine swift and Red-rumped swallow, White stork
April sees a wide variety of plants in flower and this is when the garrigue comes into its own.
The flowering period for many of these species is extremely variable from one year to another, but we will be looking for:Cephalantera damasonium, Erodium foetidum, Gladiolus italicus, Ophrys scolopax, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys anthropophora, Orchis purpurea, Lavandula stoechas, Linus narbonense, Tulipa australis…
We offer a discount of 50€ if you come by train and choose the “low carbon birding” option!
It’s really quite easy and you get to see more of the beautiful French countryside.
There are various routes and one client travelled south via Paris and Bordeaux, returning north via Narbonne and Lille.
See the Getting here page in our DIY birding section, and do get in touch if you need any help!
See the links below for train times and bookings all the way through from London St Pancras to Narbonne.
We do recommend however, in order to avoid the stress of potential missed connections, that it is better to take the Eurostar to Paris the day before and then catch the TGV down to Narbonne the day the trip starts. We will pick you up at Narbonne train station. Timetables and tickets are available 3 months in advance. Or you can talk to your local travel agent to book your tickets through them!
Click on the links below for flight details and pricing (track the price to get the best deal!).
• Flight Manchester – Carcassonne
• Flight London Gatwick – Toulouse*
Transfers from Toulouse may incur a small surcharge due to the extra distance.
Other options may be available, please contact us with your preferred departure airport in the UK.
We recommend that you do NOT book your flights until the trip is confirmed!
This short break explores the coastal Corbières and lagoons
The team for this trip combines the local knowledge of a resident professional ornithologist and a resident British tour leader
Local Bird Guide - French, English & Esperanto
Drawn to wildlife conservation from a very young age, 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 number of wildlife trips abroad have helped widen her knowledge base and she spent five years working for an environmental consultancy firm carrying out doing bird and reptile surveys.
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 a particular focus on customer service and being fully bilingual are all helpful skills for organising and hosting tours.