Great spotted cuckoo
Transfer from Carcassonne airport to accommodation in Leucate village at
Welcome drinks & dinner
Evening outing to try and spot Eagle owl
Coastal lagoons and
the Aude river plain
We start today with waders, terns and reed-based passerines resting on migration, then move on to the Vendres lagoon for opportunities to see Purple gallinule, Cattle egret, Purple and Squacco heron, Glossy ibis, Red-crested pochard, Osprey, Whiskered and Black tern and Fan-tailed warbler may all be seen.
On the banks of the River Aude, and in the surrounding meadows and vineyards we should find Hoopoe, Lesser kestrel, European bee-eater, Woodchat shrike, Ortolan bunting and hopefully Roller if they are back.
A little bit further inland, flood plain and steppe habitat can provide sightings of Little bustard, Great spotted cuckoo, Woodchat shrike and possibly the very rare Lesser grey shrike.
If there is a storm at sea, we can go and watch sea birds from Cabanes de Fleury.
Coastal lagoons, former salt pans and reedbeds of the Narbonnaise marshes
After a peek at the White stork nest and the Grey heron at the heronry and hopefully Purple heron on the nest, we will then move on, if the prevailing north westerly wind is blowing, to follow the spring migration on the edge of the Ayrolle lagoon where we can watch migratory birds as they skim the low over the water. Birds to spot include: Montagu’s harrier, Bee-eater, White and Black stork and occasional rarities such as Pallid harrier.
If the wind is not favourable, we can have a look around the Ile St Martin to spot Hoopoe, Orphean warbler, Black-eared wheatear, Dartford warbler and Sardinian warbler and explore the Gruissan salt-pans for waders and other seabirds. Towards the end of the afternoon we can also have a look around the St Louis marsh/reedbeds to spot Bearded reedling, Purple heron, Moustached warbler and Bittern.
Bugarach – vulture observation platform, a Cathar Castle and the Galamus gorge. On our way up into the Corbières hills we will have a brief stop at one of the spectacular Cathar castles perched on top of craggy limestone outcrops, and where various raptors including Golden eagle, Short toed eagle, Hen harrier, can be seen. Then we’ll move on to the observation platform and look across to the cliffs that are home to a group of Griffon vultures and where the Egyptian vulture has been known to nest. If we are lucky and a carcass is put out at the feeding station, we may also see Black vulture and possibly even Lammergeier, as well as Red-backed shrike and Booted eagle. On our way back we will drive down the spectacular Galamus Gorge where we will look for Alpine Swifts, Crag martins, Blue rock thrush and Peregrine falcon.
Our first stop is to the coastal lagoons south of Narbonne to see Avocet and Black-winged stilt and hopefully a few Flamingo.
On the headland we may see some late migration with Bee-eater, White stork and Honey buzzard passing over, with Montagu's harrier and Short-toed eagle possible sightings over the vineyards.
Coffee in Peyriac de mer.
As we move across to the La Clape headland, we may have a chance of spotting Bonelli's eagle gives us a chance of spotting these shy raptors.
On our return in the afternoon we will call in at a rocky canyon where we may see Blue rock thrush, Rock thrush, Crag martins (nesting), and various raptors.
Lagoons and garrigue
The south facing migration lookout spot above Leucate-Plage if the wind is a moderate to strong NW: Roller, Honey buzzard, Osprey, and possibly a few Alpine swifts in amongst the Common swifts, Sand martin, Crag martin and Red-rumped swallow, Serin, Yellow wagtail...
Coffee in Leucate
Scrubby “garrigue”, vineyards, stone walls and chalky cliffs.
Nesting: Tawny pipit, Black-eared wheatear, Hoopoe, Spotless starling, Sardinian warbler, Orphean warbler, Great spotted cuckoo, Woodchat shrike, Corn bunting, Cirl bunting, Serin, Crested lark.
Picnic lunch at La Franqui where we may see Slender billed gulls and Little tern as well as other terns.
Coastal lagoons where we should see : Little tern, Avocet, Black-winged stilt, Pied oyster catcher, Kentish plover, Purple heron, Cattle egret, Little and Great white egret, Greater flamingo, Slender-billed gull…
Dry open pastures/steppe and rocky escarpments.
Fitou - Feuilla
Birds typical of the garrigue include many passerines as well as several raptors. Nesting and overwintering: as per the Leucate plateau, plus: Dartford and Subalpine warbler, Ortolan bunting, Thekla lark, Rock sparrow, Rock bunting, Crag martin, Short-toed eagle, Montagu’s harrier, Hen harrier, Bonelli’s eagle, Golden eagle, Rock thrush, Blue rock thrush .
Departure after breakfast
We visit the medieval town of Lagrasse where you can birdwatch, visit the abbey or just wander the narrow streets!
Lunch in Lagrasse
Transfer to Carcassonne airport for departure.
"A great group of people to spend a week with in a relaxed atmosphere.
All round knowledge of birds, butterflies, plants and local history was excellent.
The three wine tasting events were all very enjoyable and made a pleasurable break from bird watching." P.Russell
"Very enjoyable, good variety of habitat visited and hence variety of species seen." G.Russell
"Great food, French atmosphere, helpful people, good guides, attractive countryside." S.Kimsey
Personal medical and repatriation insurance
Drinks other than wine with meals
Lunch on the last day