Pyrenees Birds Birding Birdwatching | Raptor ID School





 Ariege  |  Vultures | Gite  | Nature Week





Ariege-Pyrenees Birdwatching Raptor ID & Naturalist Holidays


With 50% more trees than 100 years ago, a warm climate with regular Atlantic rainfall, the Ariege provides a lush, varied habitat for a wide range of birds, wild flowers, butterflies and insects.  All 3 vultures species, 3 eagle types, 3 harriers and 3 kite species make the Ariege a perfect raptor watching area.  We can provide raptor identification 'training' with the chance to observe several species in one day in some magnificent locations.  Prices start from 150 Euros per day, including accommodation for 2 people. 



Please contact us directly if you have some specific species you would like to see or other special requirements.  We can propose 2 day mountain trips in search of Wallcreepers & other high mountain species including a night in a refuge, accompanied by a qualified International Mountain Leader.  Please continue to read below more about us and what we can provide.


All our birding trips are carefully planned and directly supervised by Scott the Collie, our resident mountain guide!




Le Courtal 09130 Sieuras


e: [email protected]

t: 00 33 6 16 22 66 53


Picture credit: Albert Froneman.



Pyrenees Nature Discovery Week


19th-25th May 2019

Birds, butterflies & orchids of the Ariege.

Click for more information


'Apollo and Alpine Accentor field trip' (one day)

Medium level walking 9km 750m height gain. East terrain.


'Summer Wallcreeper'

Medium to difficult.  10km 1500m height gain. 2 nights refuge. IML led.



Easy to medium level walking. 4x4 (one day)


Bed & Breakfast (L'Oustal) or self-catering accommodation (Le Courtal)


e1: [email protected]

e2: [email protected]

e3: [email protected]

m: 00 33 6 16 22 66 53


Le Courtal 09130 Sieuras




We are ideally located 1 hour south of Toulouse airport (Ryanair/Easyjet/BA).  In the foothills of the Pyrenees and yet only one hour from the high mountains and the territories of 6 Bearded Vulture pairs.  Surrounded by a range of habitats that support an abundance of flora and fauna, such as some 65 species of orchid through the year and colonies of bee-eaters.  Butterflies are numerous.  From Mediterranean eco-systems to permanent snow, the Ariege offers many fascinating opportunities for the naturalist.




L'Oustal chambres d'hotes.


e: [email protected]

m: 00 33 6 16 22 66 53







11 years of field trips & walking in the Pyrenees has given us extensive local wildlife knowledge of what to see, where & when.  This includes the many raptors, summer migrants, wintering cranes and also orchid areas.  We have access to a 'live' wildlife database that can be used to identify observation locations during your stay.


We specifically offer:

Vulture observation field day.  A chance to observe Griffon, Bearded and Egyptian vultures, depending on the season.  Full day. 4x4 transport plus packed lunch.  Prices from 75 Euros per person.


Migration 'superhighway'.  A specific location where migratory birds are funnelled through a valley during their crossing of the Pyrenees.  Dates & costs on an individual basis via email.


Bee-eater hide.  For professional or semi-pro photographers.  Purpose-built hide near a local colony.



Our accommodation.


We can normally accommodate stays of a short duration, except in July & August when our apartment is only available on weekly lets (changeover Sat).  Spring is exceptional, with the arrival in mid-April of Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters, Black Kites, Wryneck, etc.  Rollers are here for 2 to 3 weeks around mid-August.  There is also a fascinating autumn migration from early to mid-Sep.  We help with Bearded Vulture conservation & breeding efforts during the winter period.  We have a very strong interest in all 3 main vulture species found in the Ariege: Bearded, Griffon & Egyptian (summer only).  We also recently observed a Black Vulture in the Ariege, a veritable 'Royal Flush' of Vultures!


Black Vulture. Summer 2016. Ariege.


During the Summer months there are many visiting raptors, including Booted & Short-toed Eagles, numerous Black Kites, Hobbies, Goshawk and Honey Buzzards.



We support and can provide information on the protection and development of Brown Bears in the Pyrenees.  We can also help you to hopefully observe other 'furry-friends' such as Marmots & Izzard, and possibly Otters.


We also have extensive knowledge of Cathar & local history, local fetes & customs, etc.  Please do contact us if you have any questions?






We are located 50 minutes south of Toulouse & 1.5 hours from Carcassonne.





'One of the Hidden Gems of France'.



'The Ariege is one of the hidden gems of France with its rolling hills, mixed farmland and deciduous woodlands. In one afternoon, we saw more than 50 species of birds, four species of reptiles and hundreds of insects. It really is a naturalists' paradise'.

Iolo Williams, Naturalist.


We assisted Iolo and his Aden Productions team to film

Bee-eaters and local wildlife in the Leze Valley in May 2011.




The Ariege.


The Ariege, due in part to small-scale, traditional farming, has an abundance of wildlife.  On the edge of the Mediterranean distribution, with such species as Bee-eaters, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole and Rollers, plus farmland, wetland, woodland and high mountain species, there is a huge diversity of birds in particular here in the Ariege.  In addition, there are the Spring & Autumn migrations over the Pyrenees, plus the later movement of Cranes.  Permanent residents such as the Bearded Vulture, Griffon and Golden Eagle are frequently observed throughout the year.  Booted & Short-toed Eagles plus Egyptian Vultures are 'relatively common' during the Summer months.  We observed Ospreys transiting the Pyrenees in Sep.  There are a number of gravel pits with associated wildfowl, Night Herons, Great Egrets, numerous waders plus a permanent Stork rehabilitation colony. 


Throughout the year there is always something special, exciting to hopefully observe.  The area is large and remote but with our help your chances of observing that 'something special' are significantly improved.  But, as we all know with wildlife, aside from a guiding hand, we cannot really promise anything except your enjoyment of the clean, clear air and magnificent views!





Autumn migration day with the Ariege Naturalist Association in 2015.



>About us



We live near the pretty village of Sieuras in oak woodland in the foothills of the Pyrenees, 30 minutes from the high peaks.  The rolling hills are reminiscent of the Cotswolds in England and in some places, Tuscany.  Oak woods dot the scenery, small hamlets and villages nestle on the hillsides and in the valleys.  The woods resonate with birdsong, the hedgerows a hive of activity, particularly Shrikes.  There are also thousands of orchids in the Spring and pastures teeming with butterflies throughout the Summer.  There are cooling lakes nearby.  Excellent restaurants offer high quality local cuisine; a mix of southern French & Catalan tastes & styles.  Art and music abound.  Enjoy & relax in this remarkable, unspoilt area. 


Please do contact us for more specific information and we look forward to hopefully welcoming you to the Ariege at some point in the future.


Richard & Yvett

April 2018