Birding/camping trip France 25 May - 10 June 2006
John van der Woude  www.jvanderw.nl
 
This was a combined trip for general 'nature leisure' and real birding, plus having a great time at wonderful and yet nearly empty campsites, all in sunny weather. We did a sort of Tour de France, going to the Doubs valley near Dijon first, then down to the Ardèche region, from where we traversed to the West and had a succesful try-out of the area north of the central Pyrenees, then spent some days at the Dordogne region, and had a stopover at the Sologne south of Orléans on our way back to Holland. After the Ardèche we wanted to visit the Camargue/Crau/Alpilles region, but the mistral (the feared very strong wind from the North) made us decide to try that unknown area north of the Pyrenees instead.
We are keeping a 'tent list', i.e. all bird species seen or heard from near our tent (near = us being positioned within about 20 m from the tent). This made us search for birdy campsites in all the regions mentioned above. We added great species to the tent list, like Montagu's Harrier and Bee-eater at the Doubs river, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Alpine Swift at the Ardèche river, Booted Eagle and Bonelli's Warbler north of the Pyrenees, Melodious Warbler in the Dordogne, and Kingfisher in the Sologne. After this trip, the tent list stood at 114 species.
The campsites were: 
1. Les Bords du Doubs, along the Doubs river at Petit-Noir (SE of Dijon).
2. Les Peupliers, along the Ardèche river at Vogüé (S of Aubenas).
3. Pré Fixe, at Cassagnabère, N of St. Gaudens, N of the central Pyrenees.
4. La Chataigneraie, at Alvignac, E of Rocamadour in the Dordogne.
5. Municipal de la Varenne, at Neung-sur-Beuvron in the Sologne (S of Orléans).
In terms of overall quality nr. 3 was the best one of these (and very good!) and nr. 4 the least one. For birding around the tent, all were good (nr. 4 the least).


Old branch of the Doubs river near Petit-Noir. Great Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier.


Doubs river at Fretterans. Stone Curlew at the gravel bar.


Floodplain of the Doubs river near Petit-Noir (dike is left). Many flowers, Curlew.

 
Mediterranean vegetation near Lanas, Ardèche. Subalpine Warbler, Woodchat Shrike.

 
Tanargue hills between Ardèche and Massif Central (E of Aubenas). Crossbill, Coal Tit.

 
Ardèche river N of Vogüé (S of Aubenas). Crag Martin, Little Ringed Plover.

 
Beaver damage along Ardèche river. Next to this was a tree lying flat already.

 
Lovely scenery with very quiet roads at Cassagnabère, N of central Pyrenees.
Black Kite, Red Kite, Corn Bunting, Hoopoe.

 
Néouvielle nature reserve in central Pyrenees (S of Tarbes), about one hour drive from Cassagnabère. Water Pipit, Ring Ouzel, Citril Finch.

 
View on Pyrenees from Cassagnabère. Black Kite always in the air.

 
Causse de Gramat S of Dordogne river. Less birds than expected.

 
Dordogne river seen from Beynac castle (famous from Chrichton's thriller Timeline; the rival castle Castelnaud is just visible in the distance, above the river).

 
Marshy lake near Neung-sur-Beuvron in the Sologne (S of Orléans). 
Whiskered Tern visible on photo.

 
Species list
D = Doubs area; V = Ardèche (= from Vogüé); C = Cassagnabère plus nearby Pyrenees.
For Dordogne and Sologne no list was kept.
X = common everywhere.

D         Little Grebe
D         Great Crested Grebe
D         Cormorant
DV
      Night Heron
D         Little Egret
D         Great White Egret
D         Grey Heron
D         Purple Heron
D         Mute Swan
D         Mallard
V         Honey-buzzard
DVC
    Black Kite
C         Red Kite
C         Griffon Vulture
D         Marsh Harrier
DV
      Montagu's Harrier
DVC
    Buzzard
C         Booted Eagle
DVC
    Kestrel
DVC
    Hobby
V         Red-legged Partridge
D         Quail
D         Pheasant
D         Moorhen
D         Coot
D         Stone Curlew
DV
      Little Ringed Plover
D         Curlew
D         Common Sandpiper
D         Black-headed Gull
DV
      Mediterrean Yellow-legged Gull
D         Common Tern
           Whiskered Tern: Sologne
           Black Tern: Sologne
V         Stock dove
DVC
    Wood Pigeon
DVC
    Collared Dove
DVC
    Turtle Dove
DVC
    Cuckoo
V         Scops Owl
D         Long-eared Owl
DVC
    Swift
V         Alpine Swift
DV
      Kingfisher
DVC
    Bee-eater
VC
      Hoopoe
DVC
    Green Woodpecker
DVC
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
V         Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
DVC
    Wood Lark
DVC
    Sky Lark
D         Sand Martin
VC
      Crag Martin
DVC
    Barn Swallow
DVC
    House Martin
C         Water Pipit
D         Yellow Wagtail
VC
      Grey Wagtail
DVC
    White Wagtail
X         Wren
X         Dunnock
X         Robin
DVC
    Nightingale
D         Bluethroat
DVC
    Black Redstart
D         Whinchat
DVC
    Stonechat
C         Wheatear
C         Ring Ouzel
X         Blackbird
D         Song Thrush
C         Mistle Thrush
D         Reed Warbler
D         Great Reed Warbler
DV
      Melodious Warbler
V         Dartford Warbler
V         Subalpine Warbler
V         Sardinian Warbler
D         Lesser Whitethroat
DVC
    Whitethroat
D         Garden Warbler
X         Blackcap
C         Bonelli's Warbler
VC
      Chiffchaff
VC
      Goldcrest
C         Firecrest
V         Spotted Flycatcher
VC
      Long-tailed Tit
C         Marsh Tit
VC
      Crested Tit
VC
      Coal Tit
X         Blue Tit
X         Great Tit
C         Nuthatch
DVC
    Short-toed Treecreeper
DVC
    Golden Oriole
DVC
    Red-backed Shrike
DV
      Woodchat Shrike
X         Jay
X         Magpie
C         Red-billed Chough
V         Jackdaw
D         Rook
X         Carrion Crow
DV
      Starling
X         House Sparrow
X         Chaffinch
DVC
    Serin
C         Citril Finch
DVC
    Greenfinch
DVC
    Goldfinch
DV
      Linnet
C         Crossbill
V         Bullfinch
DVC
    Yellowhammer
VC
      Cirl Bunting
D         Reed Bunting
DVC
   
Corn Bunting