Winter Wallcreeper Break 2024
Tour dates: Monday 4th to Saturday 9th March 2024
Tour code: BLWWB-24
Winter Wallcreeper Break in Languedoc south of France
Now extended to cover a wider range of habitats, including rocky gorges for the Wallcreeper, Blue rock thrush and Alpine accentor; montane heathland for vultures and other raptors; open agricultural land for Iberian grey shrike and Great spotted cuckoo; and coastal lagoons for Greater flamingo and other waders! See details below for target species and the trip report from 2022.
- 5 nights / 6 days
- From 1,300€
- Charming accommodation at a wine estate
- Local expert guides
- English speaking tour leader
- Group size = 7 to 10
Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.
This trip has been extended! Still centred around the spectacular sites in the Minervois hills favoured by both Wallcreeper and Alpine accentor as overwintering grounds, our research with resident local birders has enouraged us to add two extra days birding so that we can show you a number of additional spots and widen the range of species to be seen.
So in addition to scanning craggy rock faces we will cover a wide range of habitats from open agricultural land, to upland heath, steep sided gorges and coastal lagoons and reed beds!
Such a variety of habitats combined with our local knowledge as residents, offers participants the possibility of seeing not only our main target species of Wallcreeper, Alpine accentor, Great spotted cuckoo and Iberian grey shrike, but also an outside chance of White-winged snowfinch and Citril finch, with a Griffon vulture and a few Greater flamingo thrown in for good measure!
Please see the Target species tab for a more complete list of species we will be aiming to see on this trip.
Transfer from Carcassonne airport to accommodation
Welcome drinks & dinner
This morning we will be looking for Wallcreeper
After a picnic lunch we will move on to a birdwatching spot with very different open agricultural habitat where we will be looking for Great spotted cuckoo, Iberian shrike, Little bustard, Little owl…
Back to our accommodation for a rest before evening drinks, the bird list and a delicious dinner.
First we will head for the impressive village of Minerve, which sits on a rocky platform at the confluence of the Cesse and Briant rivers where we will be looking for Wallcreeper, Alpine accentor, Blue rock thrush, Crag martin and Golden eagle amongst others.
We will enjoy our picnic lunch along the Cesse river gorge on our way to Caunes Minervois where we will visit a number of sites with gorges and cliff faces to look for Wallcreeper and a range of other species.
If we have time, we might call in at the GSC site on the way back to our accommodation.
Today we will drive up into the Caroux hills (weather permitting) and start by walking up a longish track to a high viewpoint to look for some of the resident species such as Golden eagle, Black vulture, Raven, Woodlark, Crested tit, Firecrest and possibly spot some Moufflon! Migrating species at our first spot may well include Black kite, Short-toed eagle and possibly Booted eagle. Overwintering rareties that we just might see here include Alpine accentor, Citril finch, Crossbill and White-winged snowfinch and just possibly Wallcreeper!
We will then have our picnic with a spectacular view! From here we will be looking for Peregrine falcon, (not on a church spire!) Goshawk, Rock bunting,
And today we will have a complete change! We will visit some of the coastal lagoons looking for waders but also reed bed birds. We may well also catch some early migration. Target species include: Flamingo, Glossy ibis, Kentish plover, Slender billed gull, Penduline tit, Purple swamphen, Moustached warbler and on migration Black kite, Short-toed eagle, White stork, …
After our picnic lunch we may continue at the coast or we may head back for another look for Iberian grey shrike, Great spotted cuckoo, Little bustard at Monday afternoon’s site.
Departure after breakfast
We will birdwatch in the morning before heading back to the airport for departure (depending on flight times).
We will mainly be looking for overwintering species such as Wallcreeper and Alpine accentor, but also early spring arrivals…
Wallcreeper and Alpine accentor abandon their high mountain breeding sites to overwinter at lower altitudes. It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack… and there is no guarantee of seeing these species, but we will be visiting a number of spectacular sites where they are seen on a regular basis. And there are plenty of other interesting species to see too, such as recently returned Great spotted cuckoo and resident Iberian grey shrike and Blue rock thrush. The trip has now been extended to include other habitats (open heathland and coastal lagoons), increasing the bird list to a wider range of species!
Species we will be looking for on this trip:
Wallcreeper, Alpine accentor, Blue rock thrush, Bonelli’s eagle, Crag martin, Sardinian warbler, Great spotted cuckoo, Iberian grey shrike, Little bustard, Stone curlew, Griffon and Black vulture, White stork, Black kite and Short-toed eagle on migration, Purple swamphen and Reed bunting in the reed beds, but also coastal species such as Greater flamingo, Spoonbill, Glossy ibis and many more!
Please refer to the Trip reports and bird lists to get a more complete overview of the species actually seen on this trip!
View/download the Trip report by clicking on the link below:
Apologies to all, the 2023 Trip report and bird list got lost in the ether… but the trip did happen and we did see Wallcreeper!
“The trip was great and exceeded all my expectations.” SM March 2022
“What a marvelous introduction to not only the birds but the scenery, culture and life in Languedoc. It was very impressive and very well organised… We also saw the birds!” MB March 2022
“Very well organised. Carefully planned with thought to the species likely to be found and suitable accessible locations”. KH March 2022
“Well organised, friendly people, fantastic birds.” DG March 2022
“Very well organised and very successful. Sites were well picked and interesting.” PM 03 March 2020
“Well planned, well researched, great food and accommodation – lucky with weather and birds.” GE 04 March 2020
“A good crowd/fun/well planned and executed/good food and accommodation/really lucky with the Wallcreepers, over and above that ‘luck’ which attends good planning.” AB 04 March 2020
“Well organised, wonderful diverse locations to visit, good guiding.” JG 05 March 2020
“Most enjoyable, well organised.” SG 05 March 2020
Before you throw your hands up in horror, thinking that getting to the south of France by train might be just too hard… please check out this most useful website about traveling by train to Paris on the Eurostar The man in seat 61. The site is full of very practical tips and advice! There is even a section about traveling through to Narbonne! If you travel by train to join one of our tours we will give you a 50€ discount on the tour cost!
A comfortable and surprisingly fast way of getting to the Languedoc, more and more people are choosing to come by train.
Joining a Birding Languedoc tour by train is the perfect, relaxing #lowcarbonbirding option!
It’s really quite easy and you get to see more of the beautiful French countryside.
A participant on this trip in 2020 came by train, travelling south via Paris and Bordeaux and 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!
Transfers to/from flights mentioned below are included in the price of the tour.
Other options may be available, with a surcharge, please contact us with your preferred departure airport.
Click on the links below for flight details and pricing (track the price to get the best deal!)
We recommend that you do NOT book your travel arrangements until the trip is confirmed!
A short break exploring several spectacular sites in the Minervois hills on the southern edge of the Haut Languedoc regional park.
The team for this trip combines the local knowledge of a local ornithologist and a resident British tour leader for the logistics
Karline Martorell - Independent Guide
Local ornithologist and bird guide - French, English & Esperanto
Drawn to wildlife conservation from a very young age, Karline then studied Biodiversity Analysis and Surveying Techniques. She is an active naturalist, with a focus on birds, reptiles and amphibians. Particularly passionate about birds, Karline volunteers for migration counting and local bird surveys in her spare time. Wildlife trips abroad have helped widen her knowledge base and she previously spent 5 years working for a consultancy firm specialised in ecological impact studies, carrying out bird and reptile surveys. Karline's highly developed knowledge of bird song and her eagle eyes, mean that we see more birds, reptiles, butterflies and all other wildlife!
Philippa Benson - Birding Languedoc
Founder/Tour Leader - English, French & Spanish
Like many Brits, Philippa has a keen interest in nature and is always curious to learn more about the amazing birds and wildlife of the Languedoc. Resident in this unspoilt area for over 15 years, she has a good working knowledge of where the best spots are for birds, flowers and other species and enjoys sharing these with interested visitors.
Her background in project management and hospitality combined with being fully bilingual are useful skills for organising and hosting tours, and Philippa has a particular focus on customer service!