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FatBirder's Guide to French Hotspots - Although not as exotic as
Spain or Greece, France
has a lot to offer to the travelling birder, its central position in Western
Europe means that there is a wide variety of habitats including the "Guarrigues"
and "Maquis" of the Mediterranean coast, 0a choice of montane habitats,
mature oak forests of central and eastern France. As Birding is still a
"connoisseur" hobby in France, there are plenty of opportunities to find
your own birds. But this also means that nature reserve are rare and not
very user friendly.
France - by Martin Tribe. This extensive report identifies the
birding sites in Provence, identifying a multitude of specific sites inside
and surrounding the Parc Regional de Camargue.
to watch birds in France (Où observer les oiseaux en France
ornithos avec cartes]) - although this site is in French, the maps are
readable in any language!
libre - here's another great website for those of you who
French. Includes checklists for both Europe and France, and a list of reserves.
Marsh - The estuary's bird-life is one of the richest in
Europe with over 230 species.
The marsh is home to thousands of birds such as ducks and other protected
Ornithological Park - although this site is in French,
it does provide a map to
get to the park.
to watch birds in Touraine - this site (in French) provides
a map with the best birding
sites in the area marked. Each site has a description of the location and
the birds to be found there.
to see birds on the French Northern Coast - by Gregory
Lepoutre. This bilingual
website contains a brief list of key birding locations between Boulogne
and the Belgian border as well as information on recent sightings and photos
of common birds of the coastal area.
in the natural reserve of the Seine estuary - The Seine estuary
one of the most interesting bird watching place of our country, especially
for swamp and palearctic species.
Sites in the Charante Maritime Area - Brief site descriptions
are provided by John Girdley.
Follow the Europe, then France, then Charante Maritime link on the main
page. Click on the map or titles for detailed maps of area.
France - by Martin Adlam. On the west coast of France lies the
Gironde, an area renowned
for its local speciality of Oysters, particularly from the famous beds
at Marennes. It's also an excellent area for birdwatching especially within
the Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park, just north of La Rochelle. These
low-lying grazing marshes are typical for this area and are home to many
breeding species such as Black-winged Stilt, Purple Heron and Marsh and
Beyond the French Riviera - The Camargue is like
its own little country.
Once you're a few minutes south of Arles, you enter the atmosphere of
the area, with its series of long, level roads criss-crossing the marshes
and farmlands. Eagles, hawks and harriers soar in the blue skies and muskrats
swim along the little canals, often making unsuccessful attempts to cross
d'Armor: Cap Fréhel, Sept Iles, Sillon de Talber, Abbaye de
by J. P. Paris. All the coast is remarkable, like for example the "point
of Mina". Bays allow to observe any species of waders as for example the
"Cove of Yssiniac" near Saint Brieuc. Not very far from Perros-Guirec,
you can make a small wlak around the swamp of Quelen.
Birding - by John Cantelo. The Calais/Boulogne
area harbours some very
interesting species and has superb birding sites (despite many areas being
heavily shot over). For birders based in south-east England the area makes
a very good day trip, but a long weekend is really needed to explore all
the sites mentioned. For a bird list for the Calais area - see Didier
Godreau's report on a short trip to Calais, January 25 - 26, 1999.
from uk.rec.birdwatching - by Stephen Poley, Barendrecht,
Holland. "Your main target
should certainly be the Camargue. One of the best spots is Mas d'Agon,
just north of the Etang du Vaccares (marked on the relevant Michelin road
map). The Etang du Fangassier is where the flamingos breed but you can
come across them anywhere in the Camargue. The Pont du Gard (W. of Avignon)
is a good spot to combine woodland birds with a historic site. Get there
early in the day. Blue rock thrush breeds around the interesting historic
town of Les Baux de Provence. Spend at least one day high up in the mountains
(eg Mont Ventoux) and look for things like alpine swift, alpine chough
and rock thrush. If you fancy a few hours walking once you've seen the
more common birds, try the Plaine de la Crau, just east of the Camargue.
There's a reserve there called Peau et Meau. I can't remember exactly where
it is - we came across it by chance - but you could ask locally. I think
it was on the west side of the Crau. Not many birds here, but several specialities,
such as woodchat and great grey shrikes (even lesser grey if you're very
lucky), little bustard, tawny pipit and short-toed lark. None of them easy
to find though." - August 5, 1998.
Report: Birding in the Béziers Area, Southern France,
July to 27th July 2003, by Mike Crawley.
Report: Provence and the Camargue, February - March 2003 -
Rupert Higgins & Dawn Lawrence (with Matilda). The following are a
few notes on a ten day trip to southern France. With a toddler on board
proper attention couldn't be given to birding, and we also fitted
in a few cultural attractions, so we dipped on some fairly obvious species
like little bustard, pin-tailed sandgrouse, white-tailed eagle and
eagle owl. More attention was given to the two species I needed - wallcreeper
and greater spotted eagle.
France in winter: Alpilles, Camargue, Crau and Nice,
Chris Batty. The trip potentially presented me with five new Western Palearctic
birds: Wallcreeper, Greater Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Yelkouan
Shearwater and Indian Silverbill. All these were seen along with some other
excellent birds. I was accompanied by my tolerant non-birding girlfriend,
a committed crew would probably have seen much more following a similar
Report: Camargue France - April 4 - 8, 2001. By Ivan Steenkiste.
on the Trip Report button to locate this lavishly illustrated trip report.
My wife and I visited the Camargue (Regional Parc) located in the South
of France at some 100 km west of the city of Marseille. Apart from being
known for their white (wild ?) horses, the Camargue is also a real bird
National Park - this commercial site nevertheless provides
a map, and a brief description
of some key birding species within the park.
of Gavarnie and the Cirque de Gavarnie - this area is
considered a prime birding
and hiking location. This website, although there is little mention of
birds other than Griffon vultures, describes the area.
Report: Brenne, France - May 23 to 27, 2001. By Ivan Steenkiste.
Region of Brenne, also called "la Région des 1000 étangs
/ the Region of the 1000 Ponds" is little known by tourists but very liked
by birds (and ornithologists) because of the quietness of the landscape,
the multitude of biotopes (hedgerows, moorland, woods, fields) and the
presence of about 600+ ponds / lakes. The reserve has several hide
facilities, such as La Chérine (there is a guide present in the
morning from 10 to 12 except on Fridays, though this pond was completely
dry during our visit), at Etang Massé in front of Le Blizon, and
at the new place called Le Foucault (three hides). All these places have
a car parking. There are almost everywhere well indicated paths for
Nature Parks in France - this site contains detailed
maps and informationon the
French nature parks and is well worth browsing. A selection of some
of the parks that would be of particular interest to the birder include:
Boulonnais Regional Nature Park - The Cap Gris-Nez, less than 30 km
from the coast of England, constitutes, with Dungeness, just across the
Channel, the sides of a funnel for the entire British Channel. It is an
ideal vantage point to watch seabirds.
Brière Regional Nature Park - Dotted with inhabited islands,
the Grande Brière marsh alone contains 7,000 ha of prairie land,
reed beds and bodies of water. Located in the lowest part of this wetland
region, the marsh is the most beautiful and least tamed portion. During
periods of reproduction, the secretive reed beds hide a wide range of birds
that have benefited from their expansion. Safely ensconced, the secretive
rails, spotted crakes and bitterns will probably escape notice by the casual
Armorica Regional Nature Park - The Aulne, a coastal river, has its
source in the Monts d'Arrée and flows to meet the ocean in a vast
fjord-like estuary that opens into the port of Brest. The 20 km of the
Aulne near the coast are bounded by marshes, reed beds, and mud flats that
extend to the mouths of nearby creeks at low tide. The wetlands play host
to rich and varied wildlife including herons, cormorants and otters to
name but, a few species.
Audomarois Regional Nature Park - The Saint-Omer marsh is right in
the middle of Audomarois. A nature reserve, le Romelaere, boasts a wide
range of flora and avian wildlife (such as cormorants, herons, little bitterns,
marsh-harriers, etc.). There are paths provided specially for the bird-watchers.
Brenne Regional Nature park - The Brenne of 1,000 ponds - The Brenne
dœs in fact have over one-thousand ponds just between Lancosme Forest to
the east, La Claise and the Preuilly forest to the north, and the Creuse
River to the south. The ponds are not natural, but they have created an
exceptionally interesting and complementary natural environment that hosts
an abundance of plant and animal life. Just 2 km from Saint-Michel-en-Brenne,
the Chérine nature preserve, on 144 ha, of which 40 are covered
by water, reproduces the diversity of the wildlife in the la Brenne including
ponds, prairies, heaths, woods and willow bogs. Its ponds harbor several
types of endangered herons as well as ducks, harriers, reeds, frogs, dragonflies,
etc. Its copses and forests harbor boar and deer, sparrows and birds of
Report: Corsica May 4th - 11th 2002, by Peter Rueegg.
is the 4th largest Mediterranean island with a total surface area of 8722
km2. Most of the island is rugged and mountainous, cut by many gorges,
ravines and valleys. The highest peak is Monte Cinto. It reaches 2710 m
above sea level. In many parts Corsica is covered by the famous macchia.
In the more remote parts, pine forests still occur. In flatter areas, heavy
agriculture is predominant. It is not the sheer number of bird species
that draws a birder's attention to Corsica. It is rather species poor,
but it is blessed with many interesting endemic subspecies and one of the
very few true European endemics, the Corsican Nuthatch. The prime target
of this trip was to find the Nuthatch as well as Lammergeier and Marmora's
Report: Corsica: May 1998 by J. P. Paris. I often have the
to ring birds. In May 1998, I set 3 weeks to Corsica and I participated
to a ring program on migration birds duriong 2 weeks. This program took
place between April 15th still May 15th every year and allowed to ring
a lot of species.
Report: France - Spring 2001. By Daryl Rymes. This was a short
holiday to the Atlantic
coast of France from 4th-12th May 2001. It was not a birding holiday as
I was with my (non-birding) partner Laura, but nonetheless I did spend
most early mornings out locally and we did drop in at other sites during
the day. The area we stayed was near Les Matthes, about 20 minutes drive
from Royan to the east. The area is definitely well worth a trip, probably
at any time of the year and whether you are birding seriously or just casually.
I did not really do much birding at all and the area is potentially very
good for ‘finding your own stuff’ (actually that’s probably the only way
to do it!).
Nancy - A weekend in the French Lorraine. 13th to 16th
1999. By Keith Martin. The French Lorraine is vaguely centred on the city
of Nancy, some 100km south of the Luxembourg border. It is a region of
rolling hills, tidy orchards, green fields, reed fringed lakes and scattered
oak woodlands, not to mention a maze of small villages, with their sandy
walls, peeling plasterwork, collapsing barns, barking dogs, blind corners,
dusty pavements and rusting Renault vans.
birding trip to N France August 1999 - by John van der
Convinced that a 100 % sun eclipse is much and much more than the 97 %
that would be possible in our home country Holland, we made a trip of a
few days to Northern France for the total eclipse. We were curious not
only to see this outstanding physical phenomenon on that 11th of August,
but also to watch the reactions of the birds.
Report: Brittany "Chasing Woodpeckers" - 24th - 26th
by Steve Bird and Phil Edmonds. A Birdseekers
Report: Brittany. October 2000 - by Gerard Joannes. This area
famous among French birdwatchers so, although no rarities were seen there,
I still thought my trip might interest foreign visitors. You will also
get some touristic information there. See also Gerard's Causses
Trip Report from August 2001.
Report: Morbihan. April 2002 - by Gerard Joannes. I stayed
the Gulf of Morbihan from 6 to 17 April 2002. Each day, half a day was
dedicated to thalassotherapy, the other half to exploring the region and
particularly its ornithological resources. I thoroughly enjoyed both activities.
Trip Reports - Urs Geiser's trip report archive holds a
of France trip reports. Click on Europe and then search for France in the
Trip Reports - you can also find French trip reports on
Girdley's BirdTours website.