Spring birding & flowers in the Western Mediterranean
with Dominic Couzens

Tour dates: Monday 25th to Friday 29th April 2022

Tour code: BLGTSBF-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 €900 per person
  • Local expert guides
  • English speaking tour leader
  • Maximum group size = 12
  • Minimum number of participants required = 7

Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.

A short break exploring the lagoons, vineyards and upland habitats of garrigue, rocky canyons and limetone escarpments for resident species but also all the newly-arrived summer nesting visitors (Short-toed eagle, Orphean warbler, Subalpine warbler,…)

 

The programme may be modified to take advantage of weather and other variables.

Monday

Transfer to accommodation
at L’Embrésienne

Welcome drinks & early dinner before heading back out to a good local spot for Eagle owl

Friday

Departure after breakfast and transfer to departure points.

(birding opportunities on the way time permitting!).

Tuesday

Coastal garrigue
The scrubby Mediterranean garrigue is home to a number of resident Mediterranean species and is also a good spot for seeing birds coming north on migration. Residents: Sardinian warbler, Dartford warbler, Blue rock thrush and Thekla’s lark; Summer nesting: Black-eared wheatear, Woodchat shrike, Short-toed eagle (and just maybe Spectacled warbler…)
On migration: Bee-eater, White stork, Common crane, Black kite, and other raptors

Coffee at La Franqui

Coastal dunes and lagoons
The patchwork of open grassy areas, abandoned vineyards, a scrape and filtration ponds, makes this spot a favourite migratory halt for a number of species including Penduline tit, Yellow wagtail and Bluethroat.
Also summer visitors Great spotted cuckoo, Hoopoe, Bonelli’s warbler and resident species Sardinian warbler, Cetti’s warbler and various reptiles including the spectacular Ocellated lizard

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
Nesting and migratory birds: Little tern, Avocet, Black-winged stilt, Kentish plover, Purple heron, Cattle egret, Greater flamingo, Slender-billed gull

Wednesday

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

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..),

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

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

Salses
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.

 

 

 

Thursday

Aerodrome
This area is one of the top Little bustard areas in the Languedoc. We will make a couple of stops near the aerodrome where in the past we have seen Montagu’s harrier and Eleonora’s falcon. Woodchat shrike and Tawny pipit are other potential highlights, together with good numbers of cooperative Skylark – perching on bushes instead of just teasing from the long grass or high in the sky!

The edges of the aerodrome are also good for serapias and Ocellated lizard.

Then we will head up into the hills via a picnic next to the Orbieu river

Fontfroide range

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…

The wide range of habitats within a small area allows for a broad diversity of species to be observed.
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

Flowers
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…  

This is a new extended version of a shorter trip. Click the link below for a trip report of the shorter version:

 

 

By train!
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!

By plane
For this trip, we normally meet flights into Carcassonne from Manchester and London Stansted and will post a link to flights as soon as they are available.

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

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!

 


INCLUDED

  • Transfers from/to Narbonne train station
    or Carcassonne airport (enquire re other options)
  • All local transport
  • High quality ensuite accommodation
  • 4 nights Dinner B&B + 2 packed-lunches
  • Pre-dinner drinks and wine with dinner
  • Expert local guides
  • English speaking tour leader

NOT INCLUDED

  • Flights
  • Cancellation insurance
  • Personal medical and repatriation insurance
  • Drinks other than with meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Lunch on the first and last days

 

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

Karline Martorell

Karline Martorell

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 few wildlife trips abroad have helped widen her knowledge base and she currently works for a consultancy firm specialised in ecological impact studies, doing bird and reptile surveys.

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 a particular focus on customer service and being fully bilingual are all helpful skills for organising and hosting tours.

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