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Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Shrike
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio ©Gerd Rossen Website

The region consists of the Departments of: Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Haute-Alpes, Bouches-du-Rhone & Vaucluse. The traditional Provinces of: Provence & Cote d`Azur.

The Mediterranean coast…

La Camargue: brilliant not to be missed breeding birds include Collared Pratincole, 8 species of Heron, Gull billed Tern, Slender billed Gull (oh yes, and Flamingos) etc… In the winter huge number of wildfowl overwinter as well as Spotted Eagle. Migration time is the best with Sandpipers and Plovers in the saltpans (South of Salin de Giraud, Phare de la Gachole); fresh water waders (including good numbers of Marsh Sandpiper); Marsh Terns and Herons in the north (Basse Méjane, Mas d'Agon, Salin de Badon and La Capellière) and good passerines falls in bushes by the sea (Phare de la Gachole and Beauduc). Good information can be obtained at La Capellière which has a decent set of hides as well as quite good exhibit on the local Ecology.

La Crau: the only French desert with Stone Curlew, Little Bustard, Roller and small population of Pin-tailled Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark and Lesser Kestrel. In recent years a few (up to 10) Richards Pipits have been found overwintering.

Les Alpilles: Limestone hills with a chance to see Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle and Eagle Owl.

Le Narbonnai : Very good area for visible migration (La station ornithologique de Gruissan) in both spring and Autumn… Pissevache (near Narbonne Plage); Les Salin de Lapalme and La Franquie (near Leucate) are all very good for water birds as well as providing good passerine falls. Cave has a small population of spotless Starlings and the hills north of this little village have the only French population of Thekla Lark. The whole area has a good population of Great-spotted Cuckoo. For information about this area contact the LPO-Aude.

Top Sites

Les Marais du Vigueirat

Satellite View

Les Marais du Vigueirat (the Vigueirat Marshes) is a natural site situated in the Eastern Camargue, between La Camargue and La Crau, south to les Alpilles. It is a protected area of 1000ha; the propriety of the Conservatoire du Littoral (French Government). It has a great natural richness and biodiversity, and is one of the most remarkable wetland areas of the mediterranean French coast. You can see more than 280 bird species including up to 35,000 ducks in winter…

Useful Reading

Books, CDs etc

For guides to France in general, or more than one region see the Fatbirder France page…

Oiseaux de Camargue et Leurs Habitats

by Paul Isenmann, Buchet Chastel 2004

ISBN: 2283020190

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Oiseaux Remarquables de Provence

M Lasceve, C Crocq & B Kabouche, Delachaux et Niestle 2006

ISBN: 2603013912

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Guides & Tour Operators

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Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Honeyguide - The Camargue

Tour Operator

The wild and beautiful marshes of the Camargue cover a huge area of the Rhône delta in the south of France. At the heart of the Camargue lies the Étang de Vaccarès, a vast shallow lagoon surrounded by natural marshes and sand dunes. Here, not only do we find a profusion of wildlife but also the roaming herds of 'wild' bulls and the exciting long-maned white horses so characteristic of the area…

Wildlife Provençale

Tour Operator

Wildlife Provençale is an independent wildlife holiday company specialising in regional wildlife tours of Provence in the South of France. We are the regional experts for natural history holidays in this spectacular location with 11 years of highly successful wildlife tours…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2006 [03 March] - Mike Robinson

Report

A team of three spent a week in Provence based at La Barben east of Salen seeking the winter specialities of the area whilst still finding time for sampling the local food & culture. A gentle approach was taken but still most key birds seen; however no doubt a slightly more dedicated effort would have yielded more…

2006 [06 June] – Nick Mason – France – The Camargue and the Cevenne

Report

Marshes surrounded by reedbed were viewable on both sides of the road. Squacco Heron, Whiskered Tern, and Cattle Egret gave good views, with Black Kite and Marsh Harrier quartering overhead. Only the mosquitoes drove us back into the car!

2007 [05 May] - The Camargue - Honeyguide

Report

Pdf

2007 [06 June] - Séamus Feeney

Report

…Here was my 1st. tick of the trip a Stone Curlew flushed from almost under my feet the site also held a few Cetti’s Warblers lots of House Sparrows (these were to be my constant companions throughout the trip.) and White Wagtails…

2008 [02 February] - Mark Finn

Report

This tour was arranged as a private trip for clients from West Sussex and France. Although slightly later in departure we managed to find most of the regions specialities including Little Bustard, Calandra Lark, Wallcreeper, Citril Finch, wintering wildfowl and birds of high-alpine habitats. A few surprise birds were observed notably large flocks of Black-necked Grebes and Mediterranean Gulls near Berre and in the town itself a wide range of shorebirds. In woodland above Carpentras an amazing sight of four Black Woodpeckers in a single tree…

2008 [03 March] - Chris Hall

Report

…Constantly clinging to its vertical world, it is surely the most aptly named of all birds. En route back to ‘base’, a stop at a site for Eagle Owl produces Crested Tit, and as dusk approaches, we faintly hear the deep booming ‘song’ of ‘Le Grand-duc’ but he declines to show ce soir…

2009 [09 September] - Mike Read

Report

There were a few birds about as we taxied into the terminal building but similar species were seen once we had met up with the other members of the group. Species noted at this location were House Sparrow, Magpie, Barn Swallows, many Yellow- legged Gulls and about 20 Cattle Egrets. These last two species were especially seen when loud bangs were used to scare birds away from the runway area at the airport…

2011 [05 May] - The Camargue - Honeyguide

Report

… a rice paddy where lots of black-winged stilts were courting, feeding, squabbling and nesting. A nightingale was singing, we could hear a distant turtle dove, the soft call of bee-eaters filled the air and we watched the aerial ballet as they fed.

2012 [05 May] - Mike Witherick

Report PDF

…Having reached the Natural Park, we were impressed by two things. The first were the thousands of Common Swifts seeking food at very low altitudes. The second was the vast amount of surface water. Clearly, what we were seeing was not the result of just last night’s rain, but the cumulative effects of an unusually wet winter and spring…

2012 [09 September] - Megan Crewe & Jesse Fagan

Report

An Ortolan Bunting scrabbled on a stony path. A little group of Red-legged Partridges high-stepped through a herb-scented olive grove. A Eurasian Eagle-Owl moved higher and higher on a warm limestone cliff as the light faded, providing a satisfying dessert to our hors-d'oeuvres "supper"….

2013 [05 May] - Robin & Rachel Hamilton

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…The tall straggling tamarisk bushes (mainly the pink-flowered Tamarix gallica) that lined the road were alive with bee-eaters. They posed for us to catch them in the telescopes and to photograph them, and we watched their aerobatics as they darted after insects in the warm sunshine. Cetti's warblers and a nightingale were singing too. Stansted seemed much more than 24 hours away….

2013 [06 June] - David Walsh

Report PDF

…We weren’t in a rush and there was plenty of time to look at a male Red-backed Shrike and our first singing Melodious Warbler, whilst a Eurasian Hoopoe and two European Turtle Doves flew past all too quickly. We also studied a couple of the damselflies and they proved to be Mediterranean Bluets, another speciality of the area…

2013 [06 June] - Uffe Gjøl Sørensen

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…The ferry-trip between the islands offers great opportunities for watching seabirds – including a fair chance for Mediterranean Storm Petrel…

2013 [09 September] - Megan Crewe & Jay VanderGaast

Report

…Our luck with the weather unfortunately didn't hold, and the ensuing rains made birding a bit of a challenge for the next couple of days, but the occasional break in the weather allowed us to tally a number of other wonderful species: White-throated Dippers feeding along the swollen river, Red-billed and Yellow-billed choughs foraging in the alpine grasslands, a pair of fast-moving Firecrests showing well over our heads, and a number of migrants that were likely forced down by the weather…

2014 [01 January] - Phil Bentley

PDF Report

….I had a nominal list of some 10 target species I was particularly keen to see: of these Great Spotted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Eagle Owl, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Wallcreeper, Moustached Warbler and Alpine Accentor were the pick of the crop. In the end I saw about 3/4 of my target species which, on balance, was a reasonable return on effort. Frustratingly my two most sought-after species – Bonelli's Eagle and Moustached Warbler – continue to elude me. I've lost count of the number of days and hours I've spent looking for both species…

2014 [10 October] - Philippe Geniez - Camargue

PDF Report

Annotated list...

2015 [05 May] - Robin & Rachel Hamilton

Report PDF

...We met at the car park for the Réserve Naturelle Coussouls de Crau, on the northern edge of the vast stony desert, which extended into the misty distance in front of us. After a brief introduction to the area and to their work from Amine, we presented a cheque for 1000€, our contribution to the LPO’s project to conserve la Crau’s vulnerable breeding population of Lesser Kestrels.

2015 [09 September] - Jay VanderGaast & Eric Hynes - Camargue & Pyrenees

Report

Charismatic birds, fabulous food and wine, comfortable accommodations, spectacular scenery, nearly perfect weather, great camaraderie... who could ask for anything more. Thanks so much for choosing Field Guides and for joining Jay and me on an avian adventure in France. We did the Camargue and the Pyrenees up right!

Places to Stay

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Auberge du Mas de la Fenière

Accommodation

This charming old farmhouse is ideally situated at the foot of the Alpilles mountains and in easy reach of the famous town of Arles…

Bastide des Esperels

Website

This large yet comfortable house has been sympathetically renovated by the present owners, a British couple with young children of their own, whose aim is to provide luxurious and comfortable living for families and to make holidaying as easy and relaxing as possible for everyone.

La Conviviale

Accommodation

Located half way between Avignon and Tarascon in the delightful small town of Graveson, La Conviviale is the perfect setting for your holiday in Provence. Originally a priory for religious orders in the eighteenth century, La Conviviale has since served as an inn for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella; a centre for the production of silk; a wholesale centre for fruit and vegetables; and is now a homestead for vacationers in Provence.

La Maison des Guides de Camargue

Gites

Tour guide, discovering nature and Camargue traditions. The House of the Camargue Guide also offers a cottage in a terraced house.

Les Trois Puits - Carmargue

Accommodation

An English run B&B [and adjoining Gites] and a local birding service. We know our area well and can show visitors where to look for the best birding locally. We are British but speak 6 languages between us - English, Welsh, French, German, Spanish and Dutch. Congenies is ideally located to catch the first migrants on their way north or south. We also have a large resident population of Mediterranian birds of interest to the visiting birder.

Reserves

Conservatoire du Littoral - La Carmargue

Satellite View

La Camargue est un nom qui chante aux oreilles en évoquant les taureaux, les hautes herbes, les roselières et les oiseaux…

Marais du Vigueirat

Website

Satellite View

Description [in French] with a map and list of the top birds… mailto:marais-vigueirat@espaces-naturels.fr