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Butterflies & Birds of the Eastern Pyrenees

Tour code: BLAG1-19

Tuesday 16th to Tuesday 23rd July 2019

This trip is developed in partnership with the Catalan Pyrenees regional park

and local non-profit organisation the Groupe ornithologique du Roussillon 

 Catalan Pyrenees regional park     GOR 

The French Eastern Pyrenees are home to a remarkable number of butterflies,

with over 150 species recorded in the area. 

We expect to see 75-100 species (possibly more!) during the trip.

Target butterfly species include 

(scroll down for daily itineraries and more target species) :

Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Geranium Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Silvery Argus, 

Turquoise Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Niobe fritillary, Scarce Copper, Purple-edged Copper, 

Purple-shot Copper, Chestnut Heath, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Large Ringlet, Yellow-spotted Ringlet, 

Bog Fritillary, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Mountain Alcon Blue, 

Esper’s Marbled White, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Purple Emperor, Dark green fritillary

Birds we would hope to see include:

Griffon vulture, Short-toed eagle, Red-backed shrike, Iberian grey shrike, Crag martin,

quite possibly Lammergeier... The trip also coincides with the beginning of autumn migration.

8 days / 7 nights • English tour leader • Local butterfly expert • Guest British butterfly guide

• From 1620€ pp • Group size 7 - 10

A brand new butterfly trip...

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

Mountain and Mediterranean butterfly species in the Eastern Pyrenees

The French Eastern Pyrenees are home to a remarkable number of butterflies, 

more than 150 species have been recorded in the area.

This trip is organised to coincide with the flight period of many of the area’s specialities 

whilst being at a time of year when the weather should permit their observation in good conditions.

With expert local knowledge and the advice of a British butterfly tour guide, the trip is designed in order that 

the maximum number of interesting species will be seen without too much difficulty. 

We expect to see well over 70 species during the 8 days of the trip.  

We will almost certainly see good numbers of Apollos, many species of the Ererbia ringlets and 

southern European species such as Spanish Swallowtail, Cleopatra, 

Southern White Admiral, Spanish Gatekeeper, Black Satyr… 

We also expect to see many species of blues and fritillaries. 

Local specialities such as Chestnut Heath will provide added interest.

We won’t hesitate to look at the very interesting bird species that occur in the area, including 

Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Crag Martin, Red-backed shrike, Iberian grey shrike and quite possibly Lammergeier. 

The birds will be the focus of our field excursions if the weather is unfavourable for butterflies.  

Accommodation is at a delightful hostelry offering comfortable accommodation, 

an open-air swimming pool and delicious food!

Zoom in on the map below to see Catalan Pyrenees regional park (click the "+" sign bottom right).

Scroll down below the map for the detailed itinerary!

Butterflies & Birds in the Catalan Pyrenees regional park


Two-tailed pasha ©YAL-GOR


Transfer from airport

to our accommodation

at the Orri de Planès

For those arriving early we will stop on the way to look at butterflies and have lunch.

Those arriving on later flights will do the same on day of departure!

Welcome drinks & dinner

Yellow spotted ringlet - ©YAL - GOR


Habitat: Mountain lakeside, high-altitude meadows and pine forest habitats

This morning we will be looking for the following species:

Eros Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Apollo, Western Brassy Ringlet, Dewy Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet, Idas Blue, Chestnut heath

After our picnic lunch, we will move on to a river valley with wet meadows and pine forests where we will be looking for:

Clouded Apollo, Apollo, Geranium Argus, Little Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Silvery Argus, Turquoise Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Niobe fritillary, Scarce Copper, Purple-edged Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Chestnut Heath, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Large Ringlet, Yellow-spotted Ringlet, Bog Fritillary, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Turquoise blue - ©YAL - GOR


Habitat : dry prairie meadows and eroded limestone shale. 

Our target species this morning are:  Spanish Argus, Damon Blue, Apollo, Mountain Alcon Blue, Turquoise Blue, Esper’s Marbled White, Chestnut Heath, Great Sooty Satyr, Black Satyr, Hermit, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Lesser Purple Emperor, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Sloe Hairstreak

In the afternoon we will move on to  a different spot with 

high altitude meadows and a boggy area along a mountain river. 

This afternoon we will be looking for: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Peak White, Gavarnie Ringlet, Western Brassy Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet, Lefebvres Ringlet, Chestnut Heath, Provence Orangetip, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Bog Fritillary and with a certain amount of luck a late-flying Violet Copper…

Apollo - ©YAL-GOR


This morning we start our search in dry grassy steppe habitat with areas of bare rock and we will be looking for: Apollo, Provence Orangetip, Hermit, 

Dusky Meadow Brown, 

Lesser Spotted Fritillary, 

 Great Sooty Satyr and Black Satyr.

After lunch we will move on to an area of mixed habitat along a canal and then a river, with alternating patches of open forest and meadows varying from dry to wet.

Our targets this afternoon include:  Tufted Marbled Skipper, Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Provencal fritillary, Amanda’s Blue, Turquoise Blue, Chestnut Heath, Tree Grayling, False Grayling, Sloe Hairstreak

Spanish Gatekeeper ©PJB - Birding Languedoc


Today's butterfly search takes us to dry rocky areas of Mediterranean vegetation where we will be hoping to see: Cardinal, Lulworth Skipper, Lesser Purple Emperor, Southern Small White, Spanish Gatekeeper, Spanish Swallowtail, Striped Grayling, Tree Grayling, Dusky Heath, Purple Hairstreak

After lunch we will head to an area of cliffs and mainly rocky habitat, looking for Apollo, Chalk-hill Blue, Great Sooty Satyr, Southern Small White, Southern White Admiral, Spanish Gatekeeper, Spanish Swallowtail, Purple Emperor, Rock Grayling

Apollo ©YAL-GOR


Quite a different habitat today at high altitude with a large area of open mountain steppe vegetation. Our target species this morning include: 

Glandon Blue, Lefebvre’s Ringlet, Pyrenees Brassy Ringlet, Apollo, Large Ringlet, Niobe Fritillary, 

Dark Green Fritillary

Then in the afternoon we move to lower altitudes in the valley bottom where the habitat is cooler and damper, 

with wooded areas.

Target species for this afternon include: Geranium Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Mountain Alcon Blue, Silvery Argus, 

Esper’s Marbled White, Chestnut Heath, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Purple Emperor

Spanish purple hairstreak ©YAL-GOR


Dryish prairie habitat with areas of shale, some pine forest fringes and high altitude mountain stream banks are this mornings habitat. 

Targets include: 

Esper’s Marbled White, Apollo, Chestnut Heath, Hermit, Cinquefoil Skipper, Chalkhill Blue, Bright-eyed Ringlet, etc.

And this afternoon's habitats vary from very dry meadows to wet meadows and stream banks

We will be looking for:

Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Brown Hairstreak (occurs in GB but still quite good, it might be a bit early), Safflower Skipper, Olive Skipper, Catalan Fritillary [Melitaea ignasiti : closely related to and until recently thought to be a subspecies of Lesser Spotted Fritillary – newly (re)discovered in France], Chestnut Heath, Esper’s Marbled White, Provencal Short-tailed Blue, Lesser Marbled Fritillary


Departure after breakfast

An early departure for some with a more leisurely day for those with later flights allowing for more butterfly spotting and lunch on the way !

Transfer to airport for departure.

Each day we follow roughly the format below,  

the "roughly" is because as with all wildlife trips we want to make the most of the weather 

and take advantage of surprise opportunities, 

adjusting the programme where appropriate to your advantage!

Early risers can go birdwatching before breakfast 

& there is plenty to see around the accommodation

• Breakfast is self-serve from 7am-8:30am

• We set off for the day in the minibus at about 9am

• 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 for 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 Scops owls and Tengmalm's owl

• 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
  • Local butterfly expert
  • Guest British butterfly 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

Flight into Béziers..

Flight into Perpignan...

Flight into Perpignan...

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

Butterflies & birds of the Eastern Pyrenees

Tuesday 16th to Tuesday 23rd July 2019   

Tour code: BLAG-19

Butterflies & birds of the Catalan Pyrenees regional park - Eastern Pyrenees

  8 days / 7 nights  •  Local butterfly expert • From 1620€ per person • Group size 7 - 10  •  

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 butterfly expert: Aurélien Gaunet

Aurélien is a butterfly guide for the local biodiversity protection society le Groupe Ornithologique du Roussillon (G.O.R.). He has a master’s degree in Biodiversity and Ecology. Fascinated by butterflies, he is a member of the Butterfly Diversity and Evolution Laboratory team (Barcelona). 

Guest butterfly 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 leading British tour operators. This invaluable experience and his willingness to share have been much appreciated in developing the Birding Languedoc tours. 

We are lucky to have him with us on this trip!