Occitanie

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea ©Ashley Beolens Website
Birding Occitanie

Occitanie, the warm and sunny region of southern France is an administrative region of France that was created on 1 January 2016 from former French regions Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The new Région Occitanie is named after the wider cultural entity of Occitania, of which the new administrative region is part. Occitanie covers an area of more than 72,724 km2 (28,079 square miles) with a population of 5,626,858. It borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Aquitaine on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean sea on the other side.

There are three distinct climate zones in the region. All along the coast, there is a Mediterranean climate, which is known for its dryness and its warmth, with long and hot summers and brief winters dominated by chilly winds and rain. This zone in particular is known to be expanding north and west due to climate change, and the region has suffered from an increase in forest fires. Further west on the plains and hills, the climate is cooler and influenced by the Atlantic, with more rain. The Pyrenees have a mountain climate, which is cooler still and characterised by much greater precipitation, including snow in the winter. So, it is a region of contrasts with the cool majestic Pyrenees mountains and the sun-drenched Languedoc plain, Mass tourism at Lourdes or bustling Toulouse and sleepy villages surrounded by traditional agriculture. Prominent among its wilder areas are the Parc National des Pyrénees rich in diversity that includes the critically endangered Brown Bear and Parc National de Cévennes made up of chestnut-clad low mountains where a handful of wolves still roam and reintroduced Griffon Vultures soar. Don’t forget Occitainie has part of the Camargue too – La petite Camargue, or Camargue Gardoise, is found west of the Petit-Rhone in the department of the Gard and in l’Hérault.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 419

    (As at March 2019)
Useful Reading

  • Les oiseaux du parc naturel régional du Haut-Languedoc

    | By Nathalie Biau, Jean-Marc Cugnasse & Christophe Maurel | Editions du Rouergue | 2001 | Paperback | 351 pages, Colour Illustrations | ISBN: 9782841562909 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Wildlife of the Pyrenees

    | By David Guixé | Illustrated by Toni Llobet François | Brau Edicions | 2017 | Paperback | 144 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9788415885535 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Cévennes

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cévennes National Park is a national park located in southern France, in the mountainous area of Cévennes. The park includes several mountains and plateaus, including: Mont Lozère, Mont Aigoual, Causse Méjean, France. Mont Lozère is the highest peak in the area, reaching 1,699 metres.
  • NP Pyrénées

    InformationSatellite View
    The eastern portion of the national park forms part of the French section of the Pyrénées - Mont Perdu World Heritage Site that straddles the border between France and Spain.
  • NR Maison de la Nature

    InformationSatellite View
    At the heart of the Lattes area, the biological richness of these riverbanks gives rise to the diversity of the environments: reed beds, salt marshes, reclaimed land and new woodland. Once upon a time, canals and irrigation channels led to cultivation, and since 1985 the banks have been designated protected sites under the auspices of the Conservatoire du Littoral (coastal protection agency). Ever since then, water levels have been maintained to attract flora and fauna.
  • NR Prats-de-Mollo

    InformationSatellite View
    60 km southwest of Perpignan , the territory of the nature reserve is in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales in the town of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste in Occitania.
  • RNP Haut-Languedoc

    InformationSatellite View
    Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park is a regional natural park in the south of the Massif Central within the Aveyron, Hérault, and Tarn departments. The park provides a habitat for more than 240 species of birds, in a stunningly diverse range of climate and scenery. It also provides a home for mouflons, successfully reintroduced from Corsica.
  • RNP Narbonnaise

    InformationSatellite View
    The vast Regional Natural Park of Narbonne in the Mediterranean covers 80,000 hectares in the east of the department of Aude. It has a truly diverse countryside, from lagoons and fine sandy beaches on the Mediterranean coast, to vineyards and garrigue in the Corbières, as well as the rocky escarpments of the Clape massif. With a particularly wide range of habitats the park hosts one of France’s richest ranges of birdlife, with over 40% of the Western Palearctic species observed here (residents, seasonal visitors or on migration).
Guides & Tour Operators


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  • Birding Languedoc

    Tour Operator
    Did you know that over 40% of the birds in western Europe can be seen in the Languedoc area of southern France? Resident species, summer visitors, on migration and over-wintering, what attracts them is the Languedoc’s unique geographic diversity, which offers some of the best birding in France.
  • Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays

    Tour Operator
    If you are looking for a quality natural history holiday, this is a great place to start. The Honeyguide programme offers a mix of the very best of wildlife in fascinating parts of Europe..
  • Jean-Marie Espuche: Ornithologist

    Guide
    Accompanying guide, discovery of nature and traditions Camargue. The House Guide Camargue also offers a cottage in a terraced house.His naturalistic and scientific commitment, his participation in the local life, his deep knowledge of the Camargue world, his humor and his fluency have made him an extraordinary character...
  • Languedoc Nature

    Tour Operator
    Languedoc is a major place for ecotourism, outdoor activities, wine tours and nice restaurants. Languedoc Nature can organize your holidays to hike in the Cévennes, ride on the Larzac plateau, paddle surrounded by the Tarn Gorges or visit the Cathare Chateaus. The diversity of sceneries expect you to spend plenty of different holidays.
Trip Reports


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  • 2010 [06 June] - Honeyguide - Cévennes

    PDF Report
    Our first Bonelli’s warbler was introducing itself from a nearby pine tree; it was a bird we were to become very familiar with during the week. There was a blackcap singing too, an intermittent whitethroat and a distant woodlark.
  • 2011 [05 May] - Mike Nelson

    Report
    Tim and his birding friend Peter met us there with a nice picnic along the river. No sooner had we gotten out that we were looking up the huge rock face at a Lammergeier along with Eurasian Griffon, Red Kite and a lone Egyptian Vulture. Several Red-billed Choughs circled around at the top and we had several flyby’s of the Lammergier with another above it and one perched atop a rock way up the cliff face. The scope really helped here and we all had looks at the bird. In the trees around us we also had European Blackbird, Chaffinch and along the river we had a Grey Wagtail.
  • 2011 [06 June] - Honeyguide - Cévennes

    PDF Report
    Telescopes were trained on a griffon vulture at its nest site on the cliff, with two choughs in attendance, and then our telescopes were directed to an excellent view of two black vultures – an adult and an enormous juvenile – on their nest in a pine tree across the gorge.
  • 2011 [06 June] - Honeyguide - French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    The morning started with a lively talk – with impromptu arrangements for a sheet screen and a precariously balanced projector – from the LPO’s Gwenaëlle Plet about the work being done to protect the lammergeier in the Pyrenees and to receive the Honeyguide cheque.
  • 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".
  • 2012 [09 September] – Chris Durdin – French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    ...everywhere the cropped turf was punctuated by the pale purple of merenderas. Autumn flowers, short-toed eagle, golden eagle, red kite, a swarm of butterflies in the sunshine: this was the Pyrenees in September at its glorious best."
  • 2012 [09 September] – Chris Durdin – French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    ...everywhere the cropped turf was punctuated by the pale purple of merenderas. Autumn flowers, short-toed eagle, golden eagle, red kite, a swarm of butterflies in the sunshine: this was the Pyrenees in September at its glorious best."
  • 2013 [01 January] – Chris Durdin

    PDF Report
    Local birds included woodlark, cirl bunting, serin, black redstart and Sardinian warbler. Derek collected us and took to the wonderful old Cathar town of Minerve into which two gorges lead, the Cesse and the Brian. The gorge had a wintering hen harrier overhead, a fine male blue rock thrush and scores of wintering blackcaps, attracted by berries on ivy and Mediterranean buckthorn.
  • 2013 [05 May] - Rob Macklin

    PDF Report
    Rock sparrows, black redstarts, swifts and house martins were seen around the Château after breakfast and a migrating Montagu’s harrier flew north.
  • 2014 [06 June] - Rachel & Robin Hamilton – Cévennes

    PDF Report
    We drove the 6 km or so to our final destination of the day, the Maison des Vautours, the Vulture Visitor Centre, at le Truel. We were expected, and given the ‘red carpet’ treatment as their guests because we were to present the Honeyguide conservation donation to the LPO, which part-funds the vulture projects.
  • 2014 [09 September] - Ivan Nethercoat & Chris Durdin - French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    ...It wasn’t long before we found not one but two wallcreepers feeding on patches of rough ground alongside the dam and then on the dam wall itself right underneath us. We watched the birds, red wings flashing as they danced, climbed and flew around the walls and the reservoir edge for over an hour...
  • 2015 [06 June] - Ivan Nethercoat & Chris Durdin - French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    ...Chris in the lead minibus drew in here, having seen white flashes of snowfinches. We stopped to investigate and, sure enough, here was a splendid snowfinch feeding on the open ground a few feet away.
  • 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!
  • 2017 [06 June] - Rachel & Robin Hamilton - The Cévennes

    PDF Report
    A cuckoo was calling as we arrived and, from the top of a thorn bush, a singing whitethroat gave us a brief view. We watched a lovely tree pipit song-flight from an ash tree and back to the same perch again and again, a common buzzard soared by, and while we admired a wood ants’ nest Ron called out in time for us to see a black kite.
  • 2017 [09 September] - Chris Durdin - French Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    After breakfast we gathered for a stroll down towards ‘dipper bridge’ to get a feel for the area. The clouds were slow to rise but it was dry and eventually sunny and warm. Black redstarts, white wagtails and migrant tree pipits, blackcaps and a garden warbler kept us company. The dippers, though, proved elusive but from the bridge area Helen picked up a very distant accipiter perched on electricity wires, giving a passable impression of a male goshawk. Kestrels were also nearby and then several griffon vultures took to the air around the nearby peak. These were soon joined by two golden eagles, flying together and talon grappling in front of the hillside. Two more accipiters got up, a male and female sparrowhawk chasing each other over the ridge.
  • 2018 [09 September] - Jay VanderGaast - Camargue & Pyrenees

    Report
    Our visit to the Crau steppe was a bit more frustrating due to the limited access, which probably cost us a few species, but we still managed to find some great local specialties, including Iberian Gray Shrike (now split from Southern), a pair of Little Owls loafing atop a nearby barn, a striking Eurasian Hoopoe strolling through the stony plains along the Peau de Meau, and a trio of Greater Short-toed Larks doing the same. Nearby wooded areas also came through, with goodies such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Long-tailed Tit, and an unexpected Common Nightingale, a bird that is usually long gone before we arrive in France. Also unexpected were two different Bluethroats, both giving fine views just a year after we'd recorded this species for the first time ever on this tour!
  • 2018 [09 September] - Megan Edwards Crewe - Camargue & Pyrenees

    Report
    Clouds of dusty pink Greater Flamingos massed in area waterways. Hundreds of shorebirds snoozed or foraged in shallow lagoons, resting and refueling on their long journey from Arctic breeding grounds to African wintering areas. Busy flocks of European Bee-eaters flashed golden wings as they chased insects overhead -- or sat, like bright necklace beads, along utility wires. A Lesser Kestrel hunted from a metal post. Frosty-winged Mediterranean Gulls flew over a busy roadway in a near-constant stream. Little Bustards lurked along the edge of a busy airport. Tawny Pipits strode along a dried lagoon, flashing white tail edges as they shifted locations. A White-winged Tern flashed its distinctive pale rump among more evenly-colored Black Terns.
Places to Stay


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  • Borderline Holidays - Pyrenees

    Accommodation
    Our route guides, guided walks, wildlife walks, info on wildlife hot spots, specialist butterfly weeks ensure you can make the most of this wonderful area.
  • Gites du Canal

    Accommodation
    Our two self-catering holiday gites, situated in Argens Minervois, on the banks of the Canal du Midi, are available to rent on a weekly or short-break basis. The village is situated on a main European bird migration route and the natural surroundings provide a variety of habitats for a great diversity of flora and fauna.
  • La Maison des Guides de Camargue

    Accommodation
    A 15 mn des Saintes Maries de la Mer et d’Aigues Mortes, Christiane et Jean-Marie vous proposent un gîte dans le paisible hameau de Montcalm, au milieu des vignobles des Vins des Sable.
  • Les Sorbiers

    Accommodation
    Les Sorbiers is a fine period Napoleonic building in the heart of the village of Bareges, which we have sympathetically restored and modernised to the level expected of high quality family run pension, chalet, throughout the Pyrenees.
  • 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.
  • Villa - Laroque des Albere

    Accommodation
    Welcome to our villa with private pool in the sunny south of France, between Perpignan and the Spanish border. The villa with pool in Laroque des Alberes, France is available to rent for your holiday by Mediterranean beaches and the Pyrenees.
Other Links
  • Bird watching in Languedoc Roussillon, South France

    Information
    Bird-watching enthusiasts who come to Languedoc Roussillon have 4 exciting areas to choose from - two mountainous (the Cévennes and the Pyrénées) and two wetlands (the Camargue and the Etangs of Narbonne).
  • Languedoc Nature

    Website
    Adventure stays and trips in Occitanie Languedoc Roussillon & South Massif Central

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