Autumn birding in the Narbonnaise and Eastern Pyrenees

Autumn Birding in the Narbonnaise

& Eastern Pyrenees - South of France

Friday 14th to Friday 21st September 2018

Tour code: BLPB4-18

A week of early autumn birdwatching combining  

the coastal lagoons of the Narbonnaise and the mountains of the Eastern Pyrenees.

Target species: Lowland & mountain resident Mediterranean species, autumn migrants 

& lingering summer visitors (see below for details).

8 days / 7 nights  • English tour leader + Local expert guides • From 1560€ pp • Group size 6 - 10

This trip is developed in partnership with the Narbonnaise and Catalan Pyrenees regional parks. 

Narbonnaise regional park    Catalan Pyrenees regional park

and local birding organisations the Groupement ornithologique du Roussillon and the LPO Aude

 GOR  LPO Aude

Only 4 places left...

All photos are copyright Groupement Ornithologique du Roussillon (hover your mouse over each photo for details)

Resident Mediterranean species
coastal, lowland hills and mountain birds, 

autumn migration & lingering summer visitors...

This two centre trip offers some very contrasting autumn birding, 

with the first few days spent exploring the coastal lagoons and lowland hills

 of the Narbonnaise regional park, followed by time spent in the 

dramatic mountains and high plateaux of the Catalan Pyrenees regional park 

including a short trip on the famous Little Yellow train.

Two areas with such contrasting habitats and altitudes will allow us to see a very 

diverse range of birds, including many of southern France's iconic species.

Target species :

Narbonnaise: Eagle owl, Bonelli's eagle, Black-eared wheatear, Sardinian, Orphean and Subalpine warblers, 

Tawny pipit, Bee-eater, Roller, Woodchat shrike, Blue rock thrush,  Greater flamingo, Slender-billed gull... 

plus migrating White and Black stork, Honey buzzard and other raptors

 Catalan Pyrenees: Lammergeier, Griffon & Egyptian vultures, Golden & Booted eagle, Chough, Citril finch, 

Crossbill, Rock bunting, Iberian grey shrike, Lesser kestrel, Black woodpecker 

and possibly Dotterel, Ring ouzel, Capercaillie, Snowfinch (at a pinch!) and Tengmalm's owl... if we're lucky!

Accommodation is at two delightful hostelries both offering 

comfortable accommodation and delicious food!

Zoom in on the map below to see the Narbonnaise and Catalan Pyrenees regional parks (click + sign bottom right).

Scroll down below the map for the detailed itinerary!

Autumn Birding in the Narbonnaise & Eastern Pyrenees


Fri 14th Sept

Transfer from Carcassonne airport to accommodation.

Welcome drinks & dinner

Evening outing to try 

and spot Eagle owl

Sat 15th Sept

Flooded fields, migration + coastal lagoons

These attract a whole host of birds including White and Black storks on migration & some vagrants (Temminck’s stint & 

Pectoral sandpiper in 2017). 

Then to the Roc de Conilhac migration spot, with its 360° view of birds heading south. 

A well known spot for the passage of large groups of White stork (300-400) and Honey buzzard, plus a variety of raptors, some of which pass very close - including Osprey, Short-toed eagle, Hobby, Booted eagle + possibly Eleonora’s falconBonelli's eagle can also be seen hunting here.

 After eating our picnic lunch we will have a look at the coastal lagoons up the coast for Greater flamingo, Black-winged stilt, Slender-billed gulll + various terns and check out two 

spots for Pallid swift

Sun 16th Sept

Rocky gorges, escarpments

+ open dry pastures

Our first stop today is at a rocky gorge where we may see Golden eagle, Raven, Chough, Crag martin and Blue rock thrush. Then after a coffee stop we will look for Rock bunting, Bonelli's eagle, Tawny pipit, Dartford and Subalpine warblers,  Short-toed eagle, Montagu’s harrier, Hen harrier, 

Bee-eater and Roller.

After our picnic lunch we will move on down to the coast to the salt-pans that have been put back in production and where we are likely to find Greater flamingo (possibly in large numbers) and Kentish plover, Slender billed-gull + other waders, terns and gulls.

Mon 17th Sept

Transfer to the Eastern Pyrenees

Birding on our way south, we will be looking out for groups of Bee-eater and various migrating raptors. Late morning we will arrive in Villefranche-sur-Conflent where we can look for Blue rock thrush on the rooves and Egyptian vulture on the outskirts of the town. We will then take the Little Yellow train up the Têt valley, watching out for Lammergeier, Griffon vulture and Golden eagle and other birds as we follow the migration route taken by many birds crossing the Eastern Pyrenees.

The train will drop us in Planès and we can look for birds in the vicinity of our accommodation, including Booted eagle, Crossbill and Black woodpecker

Tue 18th Sept

Forest and mountains

Today we will be concentrating on forest and mountain species.

Starting with Black woodpecker, Crested tit and Citril finch as we make our way in turn to two different valleys where we will be looking for .

Then we will explore two valleys offering the opportunity to spot Lammergeier, Griffon vulture, Golden, Booted and Short-toed eagle, Citril finch, Alpine chough, Rock buntin, CrossbillRing ouzel and Black woodpecker amongst others.

As we head back at the end of the day we will also have a look for Capercaillie

Wed 19th Sept

Sunny banks 

and hillside villages

As we head back down the Têt valley, we will visit the sunny south facing hillsides,  where we will be looking for Spectacled warbler, Ortolan bunting, Rock bunting, Chough and Alpine chough as well as Blue rock thrush and, if we are lucky, the elusive Ocellated lizard!  

There is a vulture feeding station nearby, so if a carcass is put out we could see a feeding frenzy of mostly Griffon, but just possibly Black vulture too.

In the afternoon we will explore various valleys around Villefranche,  where we will be looking for Lammergeier, Griffon vulture, Black woodpecker, Crested tit and hopefully another chance to spot the beautiful Ocellated lizard: Europe's largest, which can sometimes reach an overall length of up to 90cm!

Thurs 20th Sept

Open dry pasture / steppe

Today we will keep an eye out for the usual suspects amongst the large raptors and corvids but should be able to add to our list: Iberian grey shrike, Woodchat shrike, Rock thrush and Lesser kestrel, Crag martins  while we have coffee. Then a quick stop at a spot that 's good for Rock thrush, Wryneck and Orphean warbler before we have our picnic and head off up a forestry track to an altitude of 2300 metres to look for Dotterel, Chough and Alpine chough and to see if we can spot Snowfinch, Lesser kestrel and maybe even Black vulture...with Golden eagle and Lammergeier other possibles. 

On the way back to our accommodation, we might call in at the Eyne migration spot which is on the main route for birds, sometimes in large numbers (esp. Honey buzzard and Short-toed eagle) as they come up the valley and head south into Spain.

Fri 21st Sept

Departure after breakfast

We travel across country birding on the way and have lunch probably in Limoux before heading to Carcassonne airport for departure.

Each day we follow roughly the format below,  

the "roughly" is because as always with birding we want to take advantage of surprise opportunities and 

make the most of the weather, adjusting the programme where appropriate to your best possible advantage!

Early risers can go birdwatching before breakfast 

& there is plenty to see around both bases

• Breakfast is self-serve from 7:15am-8am

• We set off for the day in the minibus between 8am and 8:30am

• A coffee stop is on the itinerary every day mid-morning

• A scrumptious picnic lunch is consumed somewhere en-route 

• As appropriate/required we will stop for a cup of tea in the afternoon

•We aim to get back to the accommodation around 5:30-6pm

• We do a check list of what has been seen during the day while we have an apéritif at approx. 7-7:30pm

• A three course dinner including wine is served at about 8pm

• In the evening we may go and look for Eagle owl, Scops owls, 

Tengmalm's owl and hear/see the deer rutting

• No strenuous walking is required on this trip but sturdy walking shoes are recommended

What's included and what's not...


  • Comfortable accommodation with ensuite or private bathrooms
  • Breakfast
  • Tasty picnic lunches (not sandwiches!)
  • 3-course dinner including wine 
  • Experienced local birdwatching guides
  • Transfer from airport and all local transport
  • Bilingual Birding Languedoc tour leader


  1. Flights

  2. Cancellation insurance

  3. Personal medical and repatriation insurance

  4. Drinks other than wine with meals

  5. Personal expenses

  6. Lunch on the last day

We pick up from the following flights into Carcassonne

Click on links below for flight info ...

Pricing and enquiries

Two-base Autumn birding in the Narbonnaise and Eastern Pyrenees

  Friday 14th to Friday 21st September 2018  

  Autumn Birding in the Narbonnaise& Eastern Pyrenees - South of France

  8 days / 7 nights  •  Local guides  • From 1585€ per person •  Group size 6 - 10  •  Tour code: BLPB4-18  

Tour leader: Philippa Benson

Like many Brits, I have a keen interest in nature and will never tire of learning about the amazing birds and wildlife of the Languedoc.

After living here for over 10 years, I now have a good working knowledge of where the best spots are for birds, flowers and other species and I enjoy sharing these with interested visitors.

My background in project management and hospitality combined with being fully bilingual are useful skills for organising and hosting tours, and I have a particular focus on customer service!