Birdwatching France Birding Blog Highlights Observations


Beautiful Pyrenees Accommodation

Set in lush gardens & woodland. Great views.

Excellent exploring location.

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Some Notes from


the Diary




During 12-14 June I worked with a filming team (right) from Aden Productions and presenter Iolo

Williams on a project to film Bee-eaters in our local area plus Marmots, Izzards, Golden Eagle in the higher Pyrenees, Ariege.


In mid June in this wonderful location in the Ariege Pyrenees I observed a Bearded Vulture, a pair of Choughs, 4 Griffons, a huge number and array of butterflies & insects, mountain roses, high lake is naturalist's delight. Near Tarascon, Ariege.


In a 20 minute period on the 25th June 2011, we saw 20+ Griffons, a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Buzzard, the eagle turning on its back in defence (this battle continued for over 20 minutes!). A male Merlin flew by then just as we sat down for lunch, an Egyptian Vulture appeared overhead - amazing!  We continued to see Griffons for the rest of the time we were on the ridgeline (see right), before dropping back into the forest where we found an incredible number of butterflies (below left) and day time flying moths.  Near Foix, Ariege.


Spectacular Sep...


6th September at Roquefixade watched for some time a hovering Short-toed Eagle.


7th September near Pamiers, a Roller.


Late Migration? It is thought that 'climate change' is making many species migrate later.


We saw Cranes preparing to cross the Pyrenees on the 17th of November.  Do you have views on Global Warming, climate change and the effect on bird & animal species, including changing such well established patterns such as migration?



During November we also saw a Griffon just outside Le Fossat; it is rare to see these magnificent birds in the lower valleys; but during the winter months individual birds will travel further afield in search of food.





Last week (Jan 12) we watched a pair of Crag Martins perform a wonderful aerial display at Chateaux Montsegur; a truly magnificent setting.


After a very cold spell during February, spring has arrived late in the Ariege. But it certainly has now arrived...25 degrees in the sun in the third week of March.  Strangely though no sign of Swallows yet (saw some in Provence 16th March).  Seen Blackcaps 28th March.


First Cuckoo & Swallows 30th March.......


April has been wet and quite cold; all the usual early spring arrivals are now here.  I am busy renovating so not had a chance to be out a great deal, but I have seen numerous Hoopoe and 2 (fleeting) sightings of Golden Oriele.  Looking forward to the first glimpse of the Bee-eaters and Egyptian vultures, a particular favourite of mine!


From our terrace we have a good view of our 'woodpecker tree'; an ancient old stump about 5m high, peppered with holes from a very energetic Greater Spotted Woodpecker....very amusing to watch him at work! The picture right is of our (new) garden, looking SSE towards Carla Bayle and the eastern Pyrenees beyond....a great place for bird watching & relaxation!


Bee-eaters arrived in the Leze Valley on 3rd May.


9-10th May watched a pair of Hobbies above our local river & woodland. Red Backed Shrike & a male Hen Harrier gliding serenely over the spring cornfields on my way home from 'work'.


June... 2 pairs of Golden Oriole in woods surrounding our garden.  A Black Woodpecker on one of our old cherry trees near the house....possibly Booted Eagles high above....


Stunning view of a Bearded Vulture in the 'Troumouse'.


Second week in August...a large group of Bee-eaters (20+) gathering above the garden...preparing for the long trip south!?


23/26 August....Roller on a telegraph wire just north of Le Fossat.


20th October....a group of House Martins and some Swallows feeding above a maize field before crossing the Pyrenees.


During the Winter 12/13 we have seen many Great Egrets interspersed amongst the resident Grey Herons & Buzzards in the fields around Le Fossat....not sure what they are all 'hunting' (together in a mix group on the ground) at this time of the year?






22 Feb saw a formation of around 100 Cranes flying extremely high above our house, Le Courtal, Sieuras.


16 Mar first sighting of a Hoopoe.


21 Mar. Goshawk.


22 Mar first Swallow.  A week to 10 days later than some years.


26 April Arrival of the first Golden Orioles.  The weather has been particularly cold and wet this late April.


May. Bee-eater colony established in the local area.


June. Unconfirmed sighting of Bonelli's Eagle above our garden.  Black Woodpecker in the garden.  Civet seen locally.  


July. Golden Eagle & Griffon at the Etang de Lers (right).


20th July. Egyptian Vulture above Foix.


Mid August. A pair of Rollers.


22nd Sep. Possible sighting of a Booted Eagle on the top of a limestone crag near Foix.


Nov.  Migrating Cranes heard at midnight above our house.


27th Dec. Crag Martins wheeling between the arches of the Pont du Gard.



First week of March 200+ Cranes flying north over Le Courtal, Sieuras.


9th Mar    Bearded Vulture, Pech de Therme.


19th Mar Black Kites are back.


1st - 5th April. First Cuckoo & Hoopoe. Goshawk.


14th April. Bee-eaters are back.


21st April. Golden Oriole in the garden woodland.


May. Wryneck in our local woodland.


14 Aug. 3 Rollers


20th August. Bearded Vulture on Mt Valier.


13th Sep ANA migration day near Tarascon. Multiple Golden Eagle, Marsh Harrier, 3x Osprey, Bearded Vulture + more


8th Nov Bearded Vulture in the Bethmale valley.


13th Nov Ringed Ouzel pair near Pech de Therme, Barguillaire.






7th Jan.    Little Egret and Black Woodpecker. Lezat & Sieuras.


Jan. Black Winged Kite (pair wintering).


21st Feb. Bearded Vulture. (1 in flight).


28th Feb. Alpine Accentor (14 flying and on the ground feeding).


8th Mar. Golden Eagle flying with a Buzzard.


17th Mar. Golden Eagle flying with a Buzzard. Pallid Harrier.


5th April. Bearded Vulture & Short-toed Eagle near Foix.


6th April.  Wryneck. Local.




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