Winter Wallcreeper Break 2023

 

Tour dates: 5th to 10th March 2023

Tour code: BLWWW-23

Short break looking for Wallcreeper and other overwintering & resident species in the Minervois hills

  • 5 nights / 6 days
  • From 1,200€
  • Charming accommodation
  • Local expert guides
  • English speaking tour leader
  • Group size = 6 to 10

Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.

 

 

A short winter break visiting some spectacular sites in the Minervois hills, looking for Wallcreeper and Alpine accentor, both species that overwinter at lower altitudes. We may also see Bonelli’s eagle, Iberian grey shrike and recently returned Great spotted cuckoo. Click on Target species for a more detailed list…

 

 

Sunday

Transfer from Carcassonne airport to accommodation

Welcome drinks & dinner

Monday

This morning we will be looking for Wallcreeper
at two main sites including
amongst the spectacular dolomitic chimneys at the
Cirque de Mourèze.
Other species that we will
keep an eye out for include:
Bonelli’s eagle, Blue rock thrush, European serin, Sardinian warbler…

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.

 

Tuesday

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 WallcreeperAlpine accentorBlue 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.
Black vulture are occasionally  seen in the area!

If we have time, we might call in at the GSC site on the way back to our accommodation.
Evening drinks while we run through the bird list before dinner.

 

 

Wednesday

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 seen here include Alpine accentor, Citril finch, Crossbill and White-winged snowfinch.

We will then move on to a car park with a spectacular view for our picnic. From here we will be looking for Peregrine falcon,  (not on a church spire!) Goshawk, Rock bunting,

 

Thursday

 

Friday

Departure after breakfast

We will birdwatch in the morning before heading back to the airport for departure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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 shrike. White stork and Black kite on migration, Griffon and Black vulture, but also coastal species such as Greater flamingo, Spoonbill, Glossy ibis and many more!

“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

 “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

 

By train!
Come by train and choose the #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!

SNCF French trains in English

Eurostar website in English

By plane
For this trip, we normally meet flights into Carcassonne from Manchester 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!)

Flight Manchester –  Carcassonne

Other options may be available, please contact us with your preferred departure airport in the UK.

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

 

INCLUDED

  • Transfers from / to Carcassonne airport or a local train station
  • All local transport
  • High quality ensuite accommodation
  • All meals from dinner Friday to breakfast Monday
  • Pre-dinner drinks and wine with dinner
  • Expert local guides
  • English speaking tour leader

NOT INCLUDED

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

This weekend trip explores several spectacular sites in the Minervois hills.

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

Karline Martorell - Independent Guide

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

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!

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