Autumn birding in the Narbonnaise and Eastern Pyrenees

Autumn Birding in the Eastern Pyrenees & Narbonnaise - 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 + Guest guide Tony Williams + Local expert guides 

• From 1560€ pp • Group size 6 - 12

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 a few places left...

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

Resident Mediterranean species
mountains, coastal lagoons, lowland hills, 

autumn migration & lingering summer visitors...

This two centre trip offers some very contrasting autumn birding, 

starting with 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

Programme

Fri 14th Sept

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

Sat 15th Sept

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. 

Sun 16th Sept

Sunny banks

and hillside villages

 with experienced local

guide Quentin Giraudon

of the G.O.R.

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 reach an overall length of up to 90cm!

Mon 17th Sept

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 and 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.

Tue 18th Sept

Today we transfer to the Narbonnaise regional park 

via a short trip on the 

Little Yellow train, 

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. 

This takes us to Villefranche-sur-Conflent where we can look for Blue rock thrush on the roofs and Egyptian vulture on the outskirts of the town.  

After lunch Quentin will leave us and 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.

Wed 19th 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 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 gulll + various terns and check out two spots for Pallid swift. 


Thurs 20th 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 Flamingo (possibly in large numbers) and Kentish plover, Slender billed-gull + other waders, terns and gulls.

Fri 21st Sept

Departure after breakfast

We travel across country birding on the way and have 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 between 8am and 8:30am

• A coffee stop is planned every day mid-morning

• A scrumptious picnic lunch is consumed somewhere en-route 

• As appropriate/required we will try and include a pit stop 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 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...

INCLUDED

  • 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

NOT INCLUDED

  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!

Guest bird guide: Tony Williams

Tony Williams has lived in France for over 30 years and he has been instrumental in developing nature tourism in the Brenne area of central France over the past 25 years. Tony’s extensive knowledge and his knack of making beginners and experts alike feel comfortable, has made him a highly popular leader with a number of British tour operators. This invaluable experience leading tours and his willingness to share it have been much appreciated in developing the Birding Languedoc tours. We are lucky to have him with us on this trip!