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Autumn Birding in the Eastern Pyrenees 

& Narbonnaise - South of France

Monday 9th to Monday 16th September 2019

Tour code: BLPQG1-19

A week of early autumn birdwatching combining  

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

Target species: from Flamingo to Lammergeier and much in between!

Coastal & mountain resident species, autumn migrants 

& lingering summer visitors (see below for details).

8 days / 7 nights  • English tour leader + Local expert guides 

• From 1620€ 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 organisation the Groupement ornithologique du Roussillon


A unique twin-base trip...

All photos are copyright (hover your mouse over each photo for details)

Resident Mediterranean species of the coastal lagoons, lowland hills and mountains

+ autumn migration & lingering summer visitors...

This two centre trip offers some very contrasting autumn birding

starting in the dramatic mountains and high plateaux of the Catalan Pyrenees regional park,  

including a short trip on the famous Little Yellow train

This is followed by a few days spent exploring the coastal lagoons and lowland hills 

of the Narbonnaise regional park.

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 :

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!

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

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

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


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 the "+" sign bottom right).

Scroll down below the map for the detailed itinerary!

Autumn Birding in the Catalan Pyrenees 

& Narbonnaise regional parks


Black woodpecker ©JDA-GOR


Transfer from Carcassonne airport to our accommodation at the 

Orri de Planès

where Booted eagle, Crossbill, Black woodpecker and Tengmalm's owl are just some of the species that can be spotted nearby. 

Welcome drinks & dinner

Evening outing to try 

and spot Tengmalm's owl

Spectacled warbler ©JDA-GOR


Sunny banks

and hillside villages

 with experienced local

guide Quentin Giraudon

of the G.O.R.

As we head 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 reach an overall length of up to 90cm!

Iberian grey shrike ©ALA-GOR


Open dry pasture / steppe with experienced local

guide Quentin Giraudon

of the G.O.R.

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 martin 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 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.


Forest and mountains 

with experienced local 

guide Quentin Giraudon 

of the G.O.R.

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 also be looking for Lammergeier, Griffon vulture, Golden, Booted and Short-toed eagle,  Alpine chough, Rock bunting, Crossbill, and Ring ouzel. As we head back at the end of the day we will also have a look for Capercaillie


Today we transfer to the Narbonnaise regional park 

A short trip on the 

Little Yellow train 

takes us down to 

Villefranche de Conflent, 

looking out for Lammergeier, Griffon vulture, Golden eagle and other birds on our way down the valley, which is one of the main migration routes across the Eastern Pyrenees. 

At Villefranche we will be looking  for Blue rock thrush on the roofs and Egyptian vulture on the outskirts of the town.  

After lunch we will bird as we drive north, keeping an eye out for groups of Bee-eater and various migrating raptors

Arrival at our 2nd hostelry late afternoon.

Welcome and early dinner

Possible evening outing to try and see Eagle owl.


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 falcon. Bonelli'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 Flamingo, Black-winged stilt, Slender-billed gull + various terns and check out two spots for Pallid swift


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 Flamingo (possibly in large numbers) and Kentish plover, Slender billed-gull + other waders, terns and gulls.


Departure after breakfast

We travel across country birding on the way and stopping for lunch probably in Lagrasse 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 make the most of the weather 

as well as take advantage of surprise opportunities, 

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 at about 8:15am

• A coffee stop is planned every day mid-morning

• A scrumptious picnic lunch is enjoyed somewhere en-route 

• As appropriate/required we will try and include a pit stop in the afternoon

• We aim to be back at our accommodation 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 7:45pm

• After dinner 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
  • Experienced Birding Languedoc guide


  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 below for flight information...

Recent changes to Ryanair cabin bag rules:

The new "Priority & 2 Cabin Bags" option costs £6 per sector

allowing you to carry on board a small wheelie case AND a small rucksack or handbag.

This means you can avoid putting your spotting scope in "check-in luggage" that may well be thrown into the hold!

You can select the Standard fare and click confirm - the "Priority & 2 Cabin Bags" option is on the following screen.

Printing your return boarding pass (without access to a printer while you are away):

Paying for a selected seat, allows you to check-in & print outbound and return boarding passes before you leave home. 

Pricing and enquiries

Twin-base Autumn birding in the Narbonnaise and Eastern Pyrenees

Monday 9th to Monday 16th September 2019   

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

  8 days / 7 nights  •  Local guides • From 1620€ per person • Group size 6 - 10  •  Tour code: BLQG-19

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 nearly 15 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 other nature lovers.

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!

Local expert birding guide: Quentin Giraudon

Quentin is the bird guide for the local biodiversity protection society the Groupe Ornithologique du Roussillon (G.O.R.). With a master’s degree in ecology and a strong attachment to the local traditional landscapes and their rich biodiversity, 

working for the GOR really makes senses for Quentin. 

"I'm really happy to share my experience with passionate people".