TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
17th - 26th May 2003
Bruno Veillet (Vercors)
Saturday 17th May
For many (or should that be all?) the day began a little early with a scheduled 8 a.m. flight. Push-back was virtually on time but our take off was a little delayed, as other planes seemed to take a degree of priority. And thankfully we then left the grey skies and rain of England behind.
We arrived at Montpellier to hazy sunshine and groups of Greater Flamingos in the etangs that we flew over. As we taxied towards the terminal building, a bird was seen walking along the tarmac almost beneath the wing. It was a fast-stepping, male Little Bustard! As we left the aircraft and walked towards passport control, we all managed to secure views of the bird (and we were even prepared to share it with the Naturetrek group, which had been on the same flight). We cleared customs, secured our minibuses and met up with Linda and Jim, who had arranged to meet us at Montpellier, and were about to head off when Jim indicated his desire to see the bustard. A short walk later had us looking at it ........ and another one flew in. Two Little Bustards!
We drove via la Grande-Motte, seeing a few Flamingos and a couple of Black Kites on the way, and had a relaxing lunch close to the harbour. Afterwards, the drive towards Aigues-Mortes was interspersed with numerous stops to check for birds. Flamingos were plentiful and we also found a group of Shelducks, a pair of Pied Avocets and a few other things.
To the south of Gallician we made frequent stops to look over the reed beds and pools. Reed and Great Reed Warblers were frequent though very elusive while overhead Mediterranean Gulls were numerous; we ended up with about 150; far more than a Travelling Naturalist group has seen before in this region. Marsh Harriers flew at various levels over the reeds. Some were quite high and were seeing off intruders from their territories while others were more obviously in hunting mode. A Great Bittern 'boomed' infrequently from the green expanse and an occasional Bearded Tit dashed across the road to pastures new (any bird with a reed-bed territory either side of a fast road like this may not last long!). Various egrets and herons flew past with Purple Herons being the most prized.
Further along, an open area of water held a Great Crested Grebe, a few Mallards and 3 Red-crested Pochards.
By now, people who had made an early start were beginning to feel the need for some rest before the evening meal and so we headed for the Hotel Robinson where a warm welcome, and some cool orange juice, awaited us. After a rest, a typical and delicious Provençal meal was prepared for us. This brought the day to a suitable close though one member of the group remained awake enough to hear a Tawny Owl calling in the darkness.
Sunday 18th May
Before breakfast we took a walk behind the hotel up to the scrubby 'maquis' habitat. Before leaving the hotel we were able to compare the two types of Redstart, Black and Common. The first of these was nesting in one of the hotel buildings while a fine male Common Redstart was singing for ages from the top of a conifer tree. A Nightingale was singing in the distance while a Sardinian Warbler led us a merry dance and a few managed an occasional glimpse. A couple of Cirl Buntings seemed to be having something of a disagreement and a Blackbird sang a short distance away and our first Bee-eaters of the day flew over calling. We also heard Green Woodpecker and Greenfinch and saw Grey Heron, Jay, Common Swifts and a Sparrowhawk though the latter was only glimpsed.
After breakfast, we set off and headed towards Fourques seeing a few new birds including Kestrel, Black Kites and Tree Sparrows. On the road towards Saliers, we made frequent stops to admire birds or just to look for them. Species seen included Crested Larks, Gull-billed Tern, Bee-Eaters and many Little and Cattle Egrets. At a wetter area, a pair of Black-winged Stilts were in residence as was a lone Squacco Heron however, at this location, we did not find the hoped for Collared Pratincoles. On scanning around we saw a Marsh Harrier and, in the distance, about 20 Pratincoles; in fact, we had to retrace our steps to get closer views of them.
At the Musee Camarguais, Tree Sparrows were nesting in the roof of a building and as we began our walk, a Cetti's Warbler sang loudly and then gave us a low level fly-past while a Fan-tailed Warbler bounded around its territory in typical song flight. A Nightingale showed well and a Melodious Warbler was in a track-side tree. These took our attention until a Black-crowned Night Heron flew past.
Out in to the more open areas, Eurasian Bee-Eaters were in their usual nesting location but there only seemed to be one pair present. Eurasian Skylarks sang overhead as we continued our walk and an occasional Yellow Wagtail flew past.
Unfortunately the Etang held much less water than in previous years and as a consequence; many of the birds were missing. However, we did see a further 3 Black-crowned Night Herons, a few Purple Herons, numerous Black-winged Stilts and about 140 Greater Flamingos.
Back at the car park we enjoyed a typically sumptuous Hotel Robinson picnic before setting off for the eastern side of the Camargue. From the tower between Méjanes and Agon, we saw more Black-winged Stilts, a couple of female Ruffs and a Lapwing.
The usual 'lake' beyond the Mas d'Agon was dry so there was nothing to see but on the other side of the road, an area of shallow flooding held 4 Squacco Herons while birds that flew past included Purple Heron, Cuckoo, 2 Gull-billed Terns and 2 more Lapwings.
We drove towards the Etang du Fangassier and close to la Capellier we saw a Eurasian Spoonbill flying close to the road. As it descended behind a row of tamarisks, we were able to stop but despite peering through various gaps, we could not see it again ....... until it took off and was seen in flight at fairly close range.
At Fangassier, there was little to see except one Greater Ringed Plover, lots of Yellow-legged Gulls, some of which had chicks, and thousands of Greater Flamingos. With the nesting colony on view in the distance, line after sinuous line of Flamingos were making their way to or from their feeding grounds. Unfortunately, there was little else to be found here so we began our journey back to the hotel.
At the imaginatively named Marais du Grenouillet (Frog Marsh!), there was a good flock of 'marsh terns'. This contained 60 or more Black Terns and perhaps a dozen Whiskered Terns. A number of Black-winged Stilts were present and a Great White Heron stood in the midst of a patch of reeds.
Beyond the Tour du Valet, we made a brief pause to see a nest of 1 adult and 2 well grown chicks of White Stork; the other adult was feeding on the opposite side of the road. During this stop, a Red Fox appeared not far away. During the remainder of the journey, the only other stop we made was to view a European Roller, which was perched on overhead cables fairly close to the road.
Monday 19th May
The pre breakfast walk took us up the hill as yesterday but then we returned via the old disused railway line. Both Common and Black Redstarts were present and Sardinian Warblers rattled their calls from the depths of the bushes. Many of the species that we think of as 'regular' birds in Britain (Robin, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren, Great Tit and Blue Tit for instance) were passed by in favour of more local specialities. Jim however, was keen to see everything but we did not manage to secure him any views of the last of these species!
After breakfast, we paused during our journey towards Remoulins and at one location, we saw a couple of Bee-Eaters, a Turtle Dove, some Serins and Starlings. Most prised here though were the Golden Orioles which, at first, were only heard singing but following a few whistles from the leaders, both male and female were well seen in flight.
At Remoulins itself, the devastation from the winter flooding became apparent. A patch of riverside woodland was missing, as was much of the shallow dam across the river. Within the remnants of the dam, a battered car now paid testament to the power of water! With few overhanging trees remaining, we failed to see a Kingfisher here at our regular place but a nesting pair of Great Crested Grebes were a fine substitute. A pair of Little Ringed Plovers were on a gravel island that had not been present before and nearby, a Little Egret paddled about in the shallows. Cetti's Warbler and Nightingale sang nearby.
At the fabulous Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard, more vegetation was missing but the bridge remained thankfully unscathed. But then again, it must have withstood many similar flooding incidents in its 2000 year history. Birds were again in fairly short supply but there were still plenty of Alpine Swifts and a few Crag Martins flying around. A Short-toed Treecreeper was joined by a family of Black Redstarts while passing raptors included 2 Short-toed Eagles and 2 Honey Buzzards.
After lunching close to where the River Gardon joins the Rhone, we headed for the hills of Les Alpilles and the hill top town of Les Baux. More Crag Martins flitted along the cliffs and numerous Black Redstarts could be seen around the various ancient buildings. Sardinian Warblers were present, but again remained elusive, a male Cirl Bunting put in a brief appearance while a Common Kestrel and another Short-toed Eagle both drifted past.
Postcards and other items caught the eye as we took our own routes back to where the minibuses were parked and once we were all assembled, we headed back to the hotel via St. Remy.
Tuesday 20th May
This morning we drove to the Gardon River for our pre breakfast walk. As we arrived, a Grey Heron flew along the river and a Cirl Bunting was singing. In the riverside trees a Short-toed Treecreeper remained elusive despite calling frequently. A short while later, a group of 4 Honey Buzzards drifted over heading eastwards and a male Golden Oriole flew past from one area of trees to another. From the 'dam' 3 or 4 Little Egrets were actively fishing and fairly close to two anglers, 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plovers were seen.
After breakfast, we drove to Saint-Martin-de-Crau to obtain permits for Peau de Meau. West of Arles, 3 White Storks were sharing a field with a number of Cattle Egrets while Black Kites were numerous. As we drove from la Dynamite towards the Crau, a pair of European Rollers flew across in front of us and then perched nicely on electricity cables. Many more Black Kites were flying around as we began our walk and 2 more Honey Buzzards drifted past. Numerous damselflies were along the clear stream beside us but the birding on la Crau proved difficult, as the vegetation was fairly tall compared to previous years. Another birding couple had found a seated pair of Stone Curlews though we could only see their heads and necks among the flowers. Further along the track, Greater Short-toed Larks were singing and we eventually managed to find 3 in flight. From the malodorous hide, we managed to find another Stone Curlew ........ until it sat down again (!) and we had distant views of a Short-toed Eagle in one direction and a White Stork in the other. We often saw Kestrels but try as we might; we could not turn any in to 'Lessers'. As we made our way back to the minibuses, a Red-legged Partridge was calling from the plain as was a Turtle Dove from the woodland.
After the fairly short drive to the Marais du Vigueirat, we met our guide, Christophe, and then we drove to a private part of the reserve about 5 km away. En route we saw numerous European Bee-Eaters, Purple and Grey Herons and a Red Fox. During our walk with Christophe, we discovered that he was very good at identifying insects and birds as well as many other things. Instantly, our dragon- and damselfly list took a big leap forward with Black-tailed Skimmer, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Lestes viridis, the latter being very rare in Britain. A couple of Coypu seemed fairly unaware of our presence though a female Red-crested Pochard with at least 10 ducklings soon moved off as we approached. There were about 6 or 8 more of this latter species across the far side of a lake with a group of Mallards. From the hide we could see many more of the expected species as well as numerous Shelducks. Perhaps the biggest surprise though was a Greylag Goose, which was one bird of about 10 breeding pairs. While we walked through some reed beds, we naturally saw a number of Marsh Harriers and we heard Reed Warblers but sadly we did not add the hoped for Moustached Warbler.
On the return drive to the Vigueirat reception, we had some really good views of Purple Herons and European Bee-Eaters. We bade our farewells to Christophe and were soon on our way with one more stop to make before heading back.
A quiet road led along between areas of bushy 'hedgerows' and grazing land. Our first sighting of note was of a European Roller, which flew off at our approach. We stopped to scrutinise a Kestrel but concluded it was a Common. A little further along, we paused to scan for further raptors and were delighted when a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew into view and, after a circuit of the area, landed in a bush at fairly close range. This gave everyone superb views through the 'scope before it flew away. At another stop a male Red-footed Falcon flew around catching insects and another one soon joined it. Beyond them, a number of Kestrels were hovering and judging by the reports we had, some, if not all, were Lesser Kestrels but as we could not be fully sure, it was down to individuals as to whether they were 'ticked' or not.
We returned to the hotel a little later than anticipated and enjoyed another fine repast before walking up the hill with the aim of possibly seeing a European Nightjar. After standing around for a short while, one sang from the electricity wires before disappearing into the gathering darkness.
Wednesday 21st May
Another early visit to the river soon had us hearing Nightingale, Blackcap and Cirl Bunting. We spent some time standing on the low dam from where we added Great Crested Grebes (a pair was displaying), Little Ringed Plover and White Wagtail. A Common Sandpiper proved elusive for a while but in the end, everyone saw it. Other new species from here were Little Grebe and Great Cormorant then as we drove back down the track, there were hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies warming themselves in the morning sunshine.
On our way to Vauvert, we paused on the outskirts of St Gilles when a Hoopoe put in the briefest of appearances. Eventually, most of the group managed to see it before it disappeared in to a walled garden.
South of Vauvert we managed to find our way on to the correct narrow lanes (because I had "been to where we were going today before"!!) and one elevated view over grazing land had us looking at a nest of White Storks. Further on, the marshes held a number of goodies. There were various herons to be seen including a couple of Squaccos and the numerous Black-winged Stilts took to the air whenever one of the Marsh Harriers present flew over. Ducks were quite numerous and included a pair of Red-crested Pochards, a few Shelducks, many Mallards, 2 Gadwalls and a lone male Garganey. The other highlights here included a couple of Kingfishers which were probably nesting along the canal and 5 downy young Mute Swans; were the two adults across the distant marsh really their parents just taking a little break from the kids?
After a well earned coffee break, we drove to the south of Gallician where we saw Black-crowned Night-, Grey and Purple Herons. Great Reed Warblers were fairly frequent and occasional Common, and a single Gull-billed Tern flew along the roadside waterway. Another 3 Red-crested Pochards were on an open area of water, a Hobby flew around catching insects and a Great Bittern flew low over the reeds and soon disappeared.
During the drive to the Centre du Parc for lunch, we saw another 2 Hoopoes, lots of Marsh Harriers and a Corn Bunting. During lunch, another Hobby flew past, a Nightingale sang or called almost continuously and a Crested Lark paid us a brief visit ... before a group of school children arrived. From the centre window, we saw yet another Hoopoe and a few Greater Flamingos at fairly close quarters before we headed for the beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
It must have been close to gypsy-fair time as the town was very busy but as soon as we were heading along the beach, we left the crowds behind. Close to the outflow of the Etang, 4 Little and 3 Slender-billed Gulls and there were plenty of Terns including Little, Sandwich, Common and Gull-billed. There were 5 more Slender-billed Gulls further along the beach and one of them had a leg ring with the letters 'LKT' on it. On the landward side, the short vegetation held 2 or 3 Spectacled Warblers but the most surprising event here was the arrival of a group of 14 Honey Buzzards which arrived low and began to circle and climb once they found a thermal. One stayed fairly low and was promptly mobbed by numerous Yellow-legged Gulls. This caused it to join the others of its kind who by now were well clear of trouble.
The return journey to the hotel was relatively birdless although, we did pause to photograph a vineyard carpeted with poppies. We were soon enjoying yet another super meal and the accompanying wine and as this was our final evening, we were all presented with glasses of champagne to complete our time there. Needless to say, the toast was to the Hotel Robinson and to the rest of the tour.
Thursday 22nd May
To allow plenty of time for packing, there was no pre breakfast walk and we left the Hotel Robinson at the usual 9 a.m. The journey to the south side of the Luberon hills took longer than usual due to heavy traffic and when we got there, the hoped-for Eagle Owls were not present. However, a nice group of Field Gladiolus added colour to most peoples' gloom and a Tawny Owl was well seen.
We headed back to Cavaillon and then head northwards on the péage. Occasional raptors add interest and these included Common Buzzards, Black Kites and 1 or 2 Common Kestrels. After lunch, we head to Pont en Royans and scan a cliff face for raptors but none appear. However, the river nearby was more productive with a Dipper collecting food for young. Its nervousness suggested we were close to the nest and this was confirmed when it flew up to a hole in the bridge we were standing. As we journeyed on to La Chapelle, various species of orchid caused an occasional pause. These included Lady, Military & Monkey Orchids as well as Sword-leaved Helleborine. At one of the orchid stops, a Chiffchaff was singing and as we drove through the forest, a very dark Red Squirrel ran across the road.
We were joined for dinner by Beatrice Guicherd and our guide for the next day, Bruno Veillet and after a fine meal, we went out in the hope of finding some of the special owls of the area. Up on the high plateau of the reserve, a Pygmy Owl called in the distance but sadly was never seen. Other things seen in the gloom or the headlights included Forest Mice and Birdsnest Orchid. This completed a rather long day and we returned to the hotel.
Friday 23rd May
Our pre breakfast walk began well with a group of about a dozen Common Crossbills, Firecrest, Serin and 2 Crested Tits all seen before we left the hotel grounds. Common and Black Redstarts, White Wagtail, Red-backed Shrikes, Cirl Bunting and Bonelli's Warbler were all seen during our walk.
After breakfast, we headed northwards from La Chapelle and travelled through some dramatic scenery including the Gorges due Bourne where sheer rocky cliffs overhung the road. We paused at Villard de Lans where we saw a range of birds in the valley meadows. These included Linnet, Yellowhammers, Stonechat and Whinchat which were all perched on various things, while overhead a Skylark poured out its typical song. Two Honey Buzzards flew past and one was individually identifiable by two missing feathers in its left wing. A while later, we saw this same individual further north as we investigated our next site.
Overlooking a sheer cliff, we had a rather long wait for one special bird but while we waited, a male Sparrowhawk, a few Ravens and a dozen or more Alpine Swifts were among the avian entertainment. After about an hour of watching, a female Wallcreeper appeared from her nest and after a brief bit of wing-flicking, she flew off to feed. About ten minutes later, she returned, repeatedly offered views of the pink in her wings, and popped back into her nest to presumably continue incubation.
Lunch by the river in the Gorges du Meaudret was occasionally interrupted by birds like Grey Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Marsh Tit but otherwise, we were mainly seeking shade from the hot sunshine. Next, we drove to the Font dUrle where a marvellous carpet of flowers greeted us. Wild Daffodils and Pheasants eye Narcissus, Saxifrages and Pansies plus a host of other plants were blooming; it was fabulous. To add to this, many Alpine Choughs were flying around constantly, while Water Pipits and Northern Wheatear perched on the tangle of limestone rocks. On a couple of occasions, pairs of Linnets could be seen. We had to wait some time, but eventually a large Alpine Marmot appeared and was well seen by everyone.
We then drove the short distance to near the Col de Rousset from where we could see a Golden Eagles nest; there was nobody at home! However about 5 minutes after we arrived, an adult arrived and began feeding a fairly small chick which we had not previously seen. Afterwards, we drove through the Rousset tunnel and stood beside the road to watch the locally re-introduced Griffon Vultures. There were apparently 3 breeding pairs but on one particular ledge, about 20 individuals could be seen. From the surrounding forest, a Black Woodpecker was heard calling but it sadly did not oblige those who required actual views to tick it. On the slopes above the road, a Chamois fed unconcerned about the traffic passing below it.
After dinner we again headed for the high plateau close to La Chapelle to search for owls. Pygmy Owl was our first target and we did manage to hear one but sadly it remained distant and unseen. further down it not the woodland, we tried two locations for Tengmalms Owl. At both locations we heard owls and at the second site, the bird came very close but again it remained unseen except for it being glimpsed by one group member.
Saturday 24th May
A few assembled for the (extra) early morning excursion and at 6.15 we set off for the high plateau road once more. As we reached the Forest, a couple of Bullfinches went dashing off and higher up; we saw perhaps 4 more. As we arrive at one of last nights Tengmalms spots, all is quiet on the owl front but somewhere through the trees, Black Grouse are calling and are obviously lekking. A fine male Ring Ouzel landed in the top of a pine and, after allowing everyone fine scope views, it flew off again. More Crossbills fly past and a Crested Tit is calling nearby and we obtain fairly good views. As we drive on to complete the loop of road, we hear a Firecrest calling and see a female Roe Deer before returning to the hotel.
After breakfast, we pack all luggage and begin the journey towards Chichilianne. A short way towards the Col de Rousset we pause to admire some orchids and identify 3 or 4 new species including Early Marsh Orchid. Nearby a Garden Warbler sang throughout our stay but sadly was never seen. Beyond the col, Griffon Vultures were again easily seen and this morning, 3 Chamois are feeding their way across a woodland clearing. We walked along the track towards the vulture release site so that we can get closer views of their cliffs and we discover that there are not so many present; some must be off elsewhere feeding. However, of the few present, one flew past at very close range. A little later, a Peregrine soared along the edge of the cliff and gave us fairly good views for a while. During the walk back to the minibuses, lots of butterfly species were seen and these included Scarce Swallowtail, Orange Tip, Pale Clouded Yellow, Apollo, Small, Common and Adonis Blues, Almond-eyed Ringlet, three species of skipper (Dingy, Grizzled and Red Underwing) and Duke of Burgundy Fritillary.
As we drove onwards, the sun increased in intensity so we only paused briefly to view a European Beavers dam (sadly we did not see the animal itself) and we paused for lunch in the Archiane Valley with views to the fabulous high cliffs of the Cirque dArchianne. A few birds were present but obviously the heat was getting to them too. We sought shade in which to enjoy our picnic and wine. Lady Orchids were perhaps the highlight of this stop (except for the picnic and wine of course!)
Masses of flowers caused a few stops as we completed the journey to Chichilianne, as did the views down the road to Mont Aiguille. We arrived a little early and had time for a beer (or whatever) and a rest before dinner.
Sunday 25th May
Overnight, a change of weather had set in and low cloud obscured views to all of the surrounding mountains including Mont Aiguille; very light drizzle fell occasionally during the pre-breakfast walk. About 20 species of birds were noted including Song and Mistle Thrushes, Black Redstart, Grey Wagtail, Bonellis Warbler and Bullfinch.
The previous evening we had taken the decision to visit the Beaufort-sur-Gervanne area for a few missing bird species so after breakfast, we set off in gloomy weather. After passing the Col de Menée, the western slopes of the mountain weather improved and by the time we reached Beaufort, we were enjoying hazy sunshine. A pair of Woodlarks were obviously feeding nearby young as they frequently appeared on overhead cables, carrying insects in their beaks. Another pair appeared nearby. A distant Corn Bunting caused some confusion as it gave an unusual call, however, in due course it was correctly identified especially when we could make a direct comparison with a Rock Sparrow or two. With this latter species, we were able to obtain good enough views to see the yellow spot on the throat. Distant raptors gradually came closer and were identified as a pair of Short-toed Eagles. In the end they, plus one other, were flying around quite low overhead and gave everyone superb views. An Ortolan Bunting was the final new species here though it did take some finding (thanks Paul) as it sat amongst the leaves of an oak tree. As we headed for a peaceful site for our picnic lunch, occasional Corn Buntings and a male Stonechat caused brief stops.
As we finished our picnic a Red Kite flew past and some of the group went wandering in search of orchids and other flowers. The journey back to Chichilianne was via more minor roads. Many other plants featured as did at least 4 more Short-toed Eagles, 2 Black Kites and 2 Griffon Vultures near Die.
We arrived back at the hotel a little early so that we had time for a visit to near Trésanne. Here, magnificent Ladys Slipper Orchids were in bloom and during our walk to the site, many good specimens of Lady Orchid were found as well as other plants like Herb Paris. During the return drive, we paused in some woodland and managed to locate a couple of Coralroot Orchids though they were very small specimens.
This completed our searches for wildlife in the Vercors and, as we had an early start on our journey to Montpellier the following morning, we headed for our rooms, after another fine evening meal, to complete our packing.
Monday 26th May
After an early buffet breakfast, we left the Hotel au Gai Soleil at 6.am. The early part of the journey took us over the Col de Menée and on towards Die. In 2 hours we had reached the péage and were making our way southwards at a slightly higher speed. After a stop for coffee and croissants, we completed the journey to the airport in good time for our flight. Following on from birds like Common Kestrel and numerous Black Kites during the drive, we continued to watch for birds from the terminal building. Black Kites again featured with at least 10 visible as well as a Hobby dashing across the runway area. The male Little Bustard we had seen on our arrival was present once more and occasional Crested Larks flitted from one place to another. At the southern end of the main runway, part of an étang could be seen and this held many Greater Flamingos and no doubt it was from this area of water that our final new species flew up. Two male Northern Shovelers put in a very brief appearance before drifting away and being lost to view.
Our flight left approximately on time and yes, the male Little Bustard and many Greater Flamingos were seen from the plane! As per usual, we assembled at the appropriate luggage belt and once everyone had collected their baggage, we bade our farewells and headed off into the great blue yonder (of another M25 traffic jam?)
BIRDS (158 species)
Little Grebe: Heard at Marais de Vigueirat and one seen on the Rhone near Beaucaire on 21st.
Great Crested Grebe: Seen daily in the Camargue, with a bird sitting on a nest on the Rhone near Beaucaire.
Great Cormorant: One found by Fiona on the Rhone at Beaucaire.
Great Bittern: All too brief views of two in flight south of Gallician on 21st; two were heard booming at the same spot on our first day.
Black-crowned Night Heron: Six seen at the Musee de Camargue walk on 18th, including great views of one or two perched. Another was seen at Marais de Vigueirat and two flew over south of Gallician on 21st.
Squacco Heron: Six in the Camargue on 18th, and 2 south of Vauvert on 21st. Some fine views.
Cattle Egret: Seen daily in the Camargue and in good numbers.
Little Egret: Good numbers seen daily in the Camargue.
Great White Egret: This is a tricky species to see in the Camargue so it was good to find one feeding there on 18th.
Grey Heron: Seen in good numbers daily in the Camargue enabling everyone to tell this species from the next in flight with some confidence by the end of our stay.
Purple Heron: Seen daily in the Camargue with a total of about 70 individuals noted. Some excellent views were obtained of two individuals standing in open water to the south of Vauvert on 21st.
White Stork: Three different nests were observed during our stay in the Camargue, each with chicks.
Eurasian Spoonbill: One seen in the Camargue on 18th was a bit of a bonus. It obligingly flew alongside the vehicle affording most people a good view.
Greater Flamingo: We were all treated to the flamingo experience with thousands seen during our stay in the Camargue - including those at the vast breeding colony at Etang de Fangassier.
Mute Swan: Seen on three days in the Camargue, including an apparently parent-less brood of five cygnets.
Greylag Goose: One at Marais de Vigueirat was a bit of a surprise.
Common Shelduck: Seen daily in good numbers in the Camargue.
Gadwall: A pair south of Vauvert.
Mallard: Seen daily in good numbers in the Camargue.
Garganey: A male to the south of Vauvert was a welcome bonus on the duck front.
Northern Shoveler: Two seen at Montpellier airport - the last addition to the trip list.
Red-crested Pochard: Good numbers seen in the Camargue, including some excellent views. A female with a brood of 10 was a highlight of our visit to Marais de Vigueirat.
European Honey Buzzard: Two at Pont du Gard on 19th, a flock of five presumed migrants flying over the Rhone at Beaucaire on 20th, one at La Crau on 20th and two in the Vercors on 23rd. One of the most memorable moments of the trip though, was when a flock of 14 individuals came in off the sea at Stes Marie de la Mer, flying right over our heads - wow!
Black Kite: Seen daily with over 100 seen in La Crau and over 200 individuals in total.
Red Kite: One flew over the lunch party in the Vercors on 25th - an unexpected bonus.
Eurasian Griffon Vulture: Some great views at the Col de Rousset, Vercors, on both visits, with 20 on 23rd and 15 on 24th. A number of captive individuals were also seen - these part of the successful re-introduction scheme. Two were also seen on the south side of the Vercors on 25th.
Short-toed Eagle: We were treated to some memorable views of this species including one complete with a snake dangling from its bill! Two were seen at Pont du Gard, one at Les Baux, two at La Crau, and nine in the Vercors on 25th.
Eurasian Marsh Harrier: Seen daily in the Camargue with a total of over 40 logged.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: Singles seen at Beaucaire on 18th, Les Baux on 19th, Marais de Vigueirat on 20th and in the Vercors on 23rd.
Common Buzzard: One of the few species recorded on every day of the trip, although the maximum count was just six in the Vercors on 23rd.
Golden Eagle: Superb views of an adult feeding a chick at a nest site in the Vercors.
Lesser Kestrel: At least ten individuals to the east of Marais de Vigueirat on 20th. Views were very poor and the identification was based more on probability than anything else.
Common Kestrel: Another raptor recorded on a daily basis.
Red-footed Falcon: Two were seen to the east of Marais de Vigueirat a good deal closer than the Lesser Kestrels!
Eurasian Hobby: One at La Crau and three at Marais de Vigueirat on 20th and two south of Gallician next day.
Peregrine Falcon: One patrolled the cliffs above the Griffon Vulture ledge at Col de Rousset for a few minutes on 24th
Black Grouse: Early risers on the 24th were treated to the sound of lekking Black Grouse although the birds were some distance from the road.
Red-legged Partridge: Heard at La Crau.
Common Moorhen: Seen daily in the Camargue.
Common Coot: Seen almost daily in the Camarague.
Little Bustard: Almost the first bird seen as we landed in France! Two males were at Montpellier airport on our arrival there, with one showing well again on our departure. Another was heard at La Crau.
Eurasian Oystercatcher: Two at Stes Marie de la Mer
Black-winged Stilt: Seen on three days in the Camargue with counts of 4 on 17th, 25 on 18th and 80+ on 21st.
Pied Avocet: Two seen on our first day in the Camargue and a further eight at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Stone Curlew: Three at La Crau. The first two which were just sitting motionless on the ground were courtesy of a very sharp-eyed Frenchman!
Collared Pratincole: At least 20 seen at a colony in the Camargue including some lovely flight views.
Little Ringed Plover: Up to four seen daily on the Rhone near Beaucaire
Greater Ringed Plover: A single at Etang de Fangassier on 18th was the only sighting.
Kentish Plover: At least 25 seen at Stes Marie de la Mer, included some excellent close views.
Grey Plover: About 15, including a couple in full summer plumage, were in a mixed flock of waders at Stes Marie de la Mer.
Northern Lapwing: Three seen on two days in the Camargue.
Red Knot: A summer plumage individual accompanied a mixed flock of waders at Stes Marie de la Mer.
Dunlin: About 20 were in the same flock of waders as mentioned above.
Ruff: Two seen in the Camargue on 18th.
Eurasian Woodcock: One seen roding at the high plateaux of the Vercors at dusk on 23rd.
Common Sandpiper: Two on the Rhone at Beaucaire on 21st.
Mediterranean Gull: Stunning views of as many as 150 hawking after insects south of Gallician on 17th, but amazingly none were seen at the same site just a few days later! Another was seen in the Camargue on 18th and a loose group of 10 flew through Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Little Gull: Four, comprising an adult, two second-summers and a first-summer, were at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Black-headed Gull: Seen daily in the Camargue.
Slender-billed Gull: Super views of at least six at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Yellow-legged Gull: Seen daily in the Camargue including at breeding colonies.
Gull-billed Tern: Recorded on two days in the Camargue with eight on 18th and 15 on 21st.
Sandwich Tern: At least 30 at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st. Part of a real tern bonanza!
Common Tern: Seen daily in the Camargue in small numbers.
Little Tern: A single in the Camargue on 18th was somewhat overshadowed by the site of 100+ at a breeding colony near Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Whiskered Tern: At least 10 at an etang in the north of the Camargue on 18th. At times they joined forces with the Black Terns mentioned below.
Black Tern: A flock of about 50 at an etang in the north of the Camargue on 18th and better views of around 20 at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon): Seen daily during our stay in the Camargue and the Vercors.
Wood Pigeon: Seen on every day of the trip in moderate numbers.
Eurasian Collared Dove: See almost daily.
European Turtle Dove: One or two seen on four days in the Camargue, with one in the Luberon and one heard in the Vercors.
Great Spotted Cuckoo: Bird of the trip for the principal leader, although we are all still waiting for that round of drinks! One seen very well indeed as it flew round and then perched in front of us in dry ground to the east of the Marais de Vigueirat.
Common Cuckoo: Heard daily with at least four individuals seen.
Eurasian Pygmy Owl: Despite Brunos best efforts a distant calling individual on the high plateaux in the Vercors could not be persuaded to come any closer.
Tawny Owl: Great views of one by day in the Luberon. Although not so exciting for many of the group - it was very welcome for Jim and the second leader, the latter admitting to not seeing one for over 10 years!
Tengmalms Owl: Two heard on the high plateaux in the Vercors just after dusk on 23rd. One continued to call as it approached to within 20 yards of the assembled group, but sadly we could not locate it in the darkness.
European Nightjar: Good views of one near the Hotel Robinson as it churred from overhead wires on 20th.
Alpine Swift: Seen at three different sites, with 20 at Pont du Gard, 2 at Les Baux and 12 near the Wallcreeper site in the Vercors.
Common Swift: Seen daily in huge numbers - presumably many of these still migrating north.
Common Kingfisher: Two were heard south of Gallician on 18th and two were seen south of Vauvert on 21st.
European Bee-eater: Up to 50 seen daily in the Camargue. Some magnificent views of this spectacular bird, including several visiting breeding colonies. Three were also seen in the Luberon.
European Roller: One seen north of the Camargue on 18th. Excellent views of 2 near La Crau on 20th and another near Marais de Vigueirat, also on 20th.
Hoopoe: This species proved frustratingly elusive for a while although everyone finally secured good views when four different individuals were seen south of Vauvert on 21st.
Green Woodpecker: Heard daily at Beaucaire and seen there on two occasions, and heard daily in the Vercors and seen there on two occasions.
Black Woodpecker: Heard on two days in the Vercors, although despite our best efforts none could be located.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Heard at Beaucaire and in the Vercors, where one was also seen briefly.
Greater Short-toed Lark: At least four seen during song flight at La Crau.
Crested Lark: The first at Montpellier airport was followed by four in the Camargue on 18th, and 6 at Stes Marie de la Mer on 21st.
Wood Lark: Four at Beaufort sur Garvanne in the Vercors were seen in song flight and perched on overhead wires.
Sky Lark: Up to eight at the Musee Camargue walk on 18th; heard at La Crau on 20th and in the high Vercors on 23rd and five near Beaufort sur Garvanne on 25th.
European Sand Martin: Two at Marais de Vigueirat on 20th were the only ones seen
Eurasian Crag Martin: A good series of sightings, with two at Pont du Gard, four at Les Baux, and six in the Vercors on 22nd and two there on 24th.
Barn Swallow: Seen daily in good numbers.
Common House Martin: Also seen daily in good numbers.
Water Pipit: At least three displaying birds at Font dUrle in the Vercors.
Yellow Wagtail: A few seen daily in the Camargue. The majority of those identified to subspecies were Spanish Wagtails, but at least one Ashy-headed Wagtail was seen.
Grey Wagtail: One or two seen daily in the Vercors.
White Wagtail: Seen almost daily in moderate numbers.
White-throated Dipper: One seen visiting a nest site on our first day in the Vercors. It belonged to the brown-bellied central European race C. c. aquaticus.
Winter Wren: Heard daily at both Beaucaire and in the Vercors.
Dunnock (Hedge Accentor): Heard on three days in the Vercors, with one seen briefly on 24th.
Robin: Heard or seen on every day of the trip, with the best views in the hotel grounds at La Chapelle en Vercors.
Common Nightingale: Heard daily in the Camargue, with three different individuals seen including one that showed itself uncharacteristically well at the Musee Camargue walk. Also heard on our last day in the Vercors.
Black Redstart: Seen on all but one day, with a maximum tally of 10 in the Vercors on 23rd.
Common Redstart: A male serenaded us daily outside the Hotel Robinson at Beaucaire, with another male seen at Pont du Gard. One or two were also seen daily in the Vercors.
Whinchat: Two seen on two different days in the Vercors.
Common Stonechat: A male near the Musee Camargue walk, two at La Crau, six at Marais de Vigueirat, and up to four on two days in the Vercors.
Northern Wheatear: A pair at Font dUrle.
Ring Ousel: A super male of the central European race T. t. alpestris was seen at the high plateaux in the Vercors by the early risers on 24th.
Common Blackbird: Heard or seen almost daily, but far commoner in the Vercors than in the coastal areas.
Song Thrush: Heard on three days in the Vercors with one singing male scoped up on 25th.
Mistle Thrush: Seen on two days in the Vercors and heard on a third day.
Cettis Warbler: Heard daily in the Camargue, with two seen briefly near the Musee Camargue walk.
Fan-tailed Warbler: Heard daily in small numbers during our stay in the Camargue with a few individuals seen.
Savis Warbler: One heard rather distantly in the reed-beds south of Gallician.
Reed Warbler: Several heard in the Camargue with one seen briefly near the Camargue Visitor Centre on 21st.
Great Reed Warbler: Heard on three days in the Camargue with one seen well south of Gallician on 21st perched atop a reed despite being blown around by the Mistral!
Melodious Warbler: Two seen well at the Musee Camargue walk on 18th, and another performing well south of Vauvert on 21st. Also heard on three more days in the lowlands.
Spectacled Warbler: Nice close views of three males at Digue de la Mer on 21st.
Sardinian Warbler: Brief views of two males behind the Hotel Robinson, where the species was heard daily.
Garden Warbler: One singing in the Vercors refused to show itself.
Blackcap: Heard daily, probably the commonest warbler of the trip. Best views were obtained at the Pont du Gard.
Western Bonellis Warbler: Three different individuals seen in the Vercors.
Common Chiffchaff: Heard daily in the Vercors, but only one individual was seen and that only briefly.
Firecrest: One seen daily in the hotel grounds at La Chapelle en Vercors. Also heard at other sites in the Vercors and at Pont du Gard.
Bearded Tit: Two heard south of Gallician on 17th.
Long-tailed Tit: Two seen by Christine near Beaucaire was the only sighting.
Marsh Tit: Seen on two days in the Vercors, with one on 23rd and three on 25th.
Crested Tit: Up to three seen on two days in the Vercors.
Coal Tit: Heard and seen daily in the Vercors, where it was the commonest tit on the higher slopes.
Blue Tit: Heard daily at Beaucaire and in the Vercors, but just one seen at each.
Great Tit: Heard and seen daily.
Wallcreeper: One of the birds of the trip. A female visiting its nest site in the Vercors. It was made all the more exciting by the anxious hour-long wait before it finally revealed itself!
Short-toed Treecreeper: One seen well at Pont du Gard, and others heard both there, at La Crau and in the Vercors.
Golden Oriole: Four seen at a site just north of Beaucaire on 19th and one nearer Beaucaire next day. Some excellent flight views of what can be a very difficult species to observe.
Red-backed Shrike: Seven seen on a pre-breakfast walk in the vicinity of La Chapelle en Vercors on 21st and a male seen by Margaret in the same area on 24th.
Eurasian Jay: Seen or heard daily in small numbers at Beaucaire and in the Vercors and one at Pont du Gard.
Black-billed Magpie: Seen almost daily - the species was only absent from higher ground in the Vercors.
Alpine (Yellow-billed) Chough: Great views of up to 20 at Font DUrle, some within just a few feet of the assembled group.
Eurasian Jackdaw: Seen daily, often in good numbers.
Hooded Crow: Seen daily in moderate numbers.
Common Raven: One at Les Baux and up to 10 daily in the Vercors.
Common Starling: Seen almost daily, but only in small numbers.
House Sparrow: Recorded every day of our trip.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow: Up to 10 seen on four days in the lowlands.
Rock Sparrow: Excellent views of at least four near Beaufort sur Garvanne. Many of these were in the vicinity of specially made nestboxes.
Common Chaffinch: Seen daily around Beaucaire and in the Vercors.
European Serin: Seen in good numbers around Beaucaire, Remoulins at Pont du Gard and Les Baux and then again in the Vercors.
European Greenfinch: Seen on every day but our first.
European Goldfinch: Seen daily in good numbers - probably the commonest finch encountered.
Common Linnet: Heard at Stes Marie de la Mer and seen on two days in the Vercors, with six on 23rd and two on 25th.
Common Crossbill: Great views outside our hotel in La Chapelle en Vercors, where at least 12 were seen on 23rd and 15 were present next day.
Eurasian Bullfinch: Two seen on two different days in the Vercors.
Yellowhammer: Seen or heard daily in the Vercors, with six seen on 25th and two seen on 21st.
Cirl Bunting: Although we heard birds singing on all but one day during our stay, getting good views proved a lot more difficult. We did, however, see two at Beaucaire on three days and single males on two days in the Vercors.
Ortolan Bunting: Great views of a singing male at Beaufort sur Garvanne on 25th.
Reed Bunting: One seen on our first day in the Camargue.
Corn Bunting: One at Marais de Vigueirat on 20th, two south of Vauvert on 21st and at least four at Beaufort sur Garvanne, the latter giving the best views.
Red Fox: One near Musee Camargue walk on 18th and another at Marais de Vigueirat on 20th.
Roe Deer: One in the Vercors on 24th.
Chamois: One seen above the Col de Rousset on 23rd and three seen at the same spot the next day.
Red Squirrel: Singles seen on two days in the Vercors.
Alpine Marmot: Great views of one at Font dUrle in the Vercors. It entertained us for several minutes moving between all fours and standing on its hind legs. A sizeable beast!
Coypu: Seen almost daily in the Camargue with a total of at least seven in all.
Brown Hare: Two at La Crau and one in the Camargue
Blue (Mountain) Hare: One seen running along the road in the high Vercors.
Rabbit: Seen on two days in the Camargue.
forest mouse spp. One seen running across the road in the high Vercors.
Stripeless Tree Frog:
Common Wall Lizard:
Western Whip Snake:
Butterflies: (C = Camargue, L = Luberon, V = Vercors)
Swallowtail C, V
Scarce Swallowtail V
Black-veined White V
Large White C, L, V
Green-veined White C, V
Bath White V
Orange Tip V
Pale/Bergers Clouded Yellow V
Clouded Yellow C
Wood White V
Green Hairstreak V
Small Copper C
Little Blue V
Green-underside Blue V
Brown Argus L
Provence Chalkhill Blue V
Adonis Blue V
Common Blue C, L, V
Duke of Burgundy Fritillary V
Southern White Admiral V
Painted Lady C, V
Small Tortoiseshell V
Queen of Spain Fritillary V
Pearl-bordered Fritillary V
Glanville Fritillary L
Meadow Fritillary V
Western Marbled White C (La Crau)
Almond-eyed Ringlet V
Meadow Brown L, V
Spanish Gatekeeper C, V
Small Heath C, V
Southern Speckled Wood L
Wall Brown V
Northern Wall Brown V
Grizzled Skipper C, V
Red-underside Skipper V
Dingy Skipper V
Large Skipper C, L
Scientific name Common name Location
Asplenium trichomanes MAIDENHAIR SPLEENWORT V
Asplenium viride GREEN SPLEENWORT V
Asplenium nuta-muria WALL RUE V
Cystopteris fragilis BRITTLE BLADDER-FERN V
Juniperus communis ssp. albina DWARF JUNIPER V
Picea abies NORWAY SPRUCE V
Pinus halepensis ALEPPO PINE C
Pinus pinea UMBRELLA PINE C
Pinus sylvestris SCOTS PINE V
Platanus orientalis PLANE TREE C
Taxus baccata YEW V
Acer campestre FIELD MAPLE V
Acer pseudoplatanus SYCAMORE V
Pistacia lentiscus LENTISC C
Cotinus coggygria SMOKE TREE C
Nerium oleander OLEANDER C
Ilex aquifolium HOLLY V
Hedera helix IVY V,C
Aristolochia clematitis BIRTHWORT C
Vincetoxicum hirundinaria SWALLOW-WORT V
Anchusa azurea LARGE BLUE ALKANET C
Echium vulgare VIPERS BUGLOSS V
Myosotis alpestris ALPINE FORGET-ME-NOT V
Myosotis scorpioides WATER FORGET-ME-NOT V
Pulmonaria angustifolia NARROW-LEAVED LUNGWORT V
Symphytum tuberosum TUBEROUS COMFREY V
Buxus sempervirens BOX V,C
Opuntia vicus-indica PRICKLY PEAR C
Campanula glomerata CLUSTERED BELLFLOWER V
Campanula trachelium RAMPION BELLFLOWER C
Phyteuma nigrum BLACK RAMPION V
Phyteuma orbiculare ROUND-HEADED RAMPION V
Humulus lupulus HOP C
Legousia hybrida VENUSS LOOKING GLASS V
Lonicera etrusca C,V
Lonicera implexa C,V
Lonicera xylosteum FLY HONEYSUCKLE V
Sambucus ebulus DANEWORT/DWARF ELDER C,V
Sambucus nigra ELDER V
Viburnum lantana WAYFARING TREE V
Viburnum tinus LAURUSTINUS C
Lychnis flos-cuculi RAGGED ROBIN V
Saponaria ocymoides ROCK SOAPWORT V
Silene dioica RED CAMPION V
Silene latifolia ssp. alba WHITE CAMPION V
Silene nutans NOTTINGHAM CATCHFLY V
Silene vulgaris BLADDER CAMPION V
Spergularia marina SEA-SPURREY C
Spergularia ruba SAND-SPURREY C
Stellaria graminea LESSER STITCHWORT V
Arthrocnemum spp. C
Chenopodium bonus-henricus GOOD KING HENRY V
Halimione portulacoides SEA-PURSLANE C
Suaeda vera SHRUBBY SEA-BLITE C
Cistus albidus GREY-LEAVED CISTUS C
Cistus monspeliensis NARROW-LEAVED CISTUS C
Helianthemum nummubrium COMMON ROCK-ROSE V
Helianthemum canum HOARY ROCK-ROSE V
Iberis stricta ANNUAL CANDYTUFT V
Achillea millefolium YARROW V
Andryala integrifolia ANDRYALA C
Arctium minus LESSER BURDOCK V
Artemisia vulgaris MUGWORT V
Bellis annua ANNUAL DAISY C
Petasites spp. BUTTERBUR V
Centaurea montana MOUNTAIN CORNFLOWER V
Cichorium intybus CHICORY C
Cirsium vulgare SPEAR THISTLE C
Galactities tomentosa GALACTITES C
Homogyne alpina ALPINE/PURPLE COLTSFOOT V
Leucanthemum vulgare OX-EYE DAISY V
Senecio halenites RAGWORT SPP. V
Senecio vulgaris GROUNDSEL V
Silybum marianum MILK/HOLLY THISTLE C
Taraxacum officinale group COMMON DANDELION V
Tragopogon pratensis GOATSBEARD V
Tussilago farfara COLTSFOOT V
Urospermum dalechampii UROSPERMUM C
Calystegia sepium GREATER BINDWOOD C
Convolvulus arvensis BINDWEED V
Convolvulus cantabrica PINK CONVOLVULUS C
Cornus sanguinea DOGWOOD C,V
Corylus avellana HAZEL V
Sedum acre WALL-PEPPER C
Sedum sediforme C
Alliaria petiolata GARLIC MUSTARD C
Lepidum latifolium DITTANDER C
Cardamine heptaphylla SEVEN-LEAFLET BITTERCRESS V
Ecballium elaterium SQUIRTING CUCUMBER C
Dipsacus fullonum TEASEL C,V
Knautia dipsacifolia WOOD SCABIOUS V
Elaeagnus angustifolia OLEASTER C
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi BEARBERRY V
Vaccinum myrtillus BILBERRY V
Euphorbia characias LARGE MEDITERRANEAN SPURGE C
Euphorbia cyparissias CYPRESS SPURGE V
Euphorbia serrata C
Castanea sativa SWEET/SPANISH CHESTNUT V
Fagus sylvatica BEECH V
Quercus coccifera HOLLY OAK C
Quercus ilex HOLM OAK C
Quercus pubescens DOWNY OAK C
Gentiana clusii CLUSIUSS GENTIAN V
Gentiana lutea GREAT YELLOW GENTIAN V
Gentiana verna SPRING GENTIAN V
Geranium pratense MEADOW CRANESBILL V
Geranium pusillum SMALL-FLOWERED CRANESBILL C
Geranium pyreraicum PYRANEAN CRANESBILL v
Globularia vulgaris COMMON GLOBULARIA V
Logurus ovatus C
Ajuga pyramidalis PYRAMID BUGLE V
Ajuga reptans BUGLE V
Lavandula angustifolia LAVENDAR V
Melittis melissophyllum BASTARD BALM V
Phlomis lychnitis C
Salvia pratensis MEADOW CLARY V
Sideritis hirsute C
Anthyllis montana MOUNTAIN KIDNEY VETCH V
Anthyllis vulneraria KIDNEY VETCH V
Astragalus sempervirens MOUNTAIN TRAGACANTH V
Cercis siliquastrum JUDAS TREE C,V
Cistus purgans PYRANEAN BROOM V
Coronilla glauca SHRUBBY SCORPION VETCH C
Dorycnium hirsutum C
Lotus corniculatus BIRDSFOOT TREFOIL V
Lotus edulis EDIBLE LOTUS C
Medicago sativa LUCERNE C,V
Onobrynchis arenaria SMALL SAINFOIN V
Ononis spinosa SPINY RESTHARROW V
Oxytropis spp. MILK VETCH SPP. V
Psoralea bituminosa PITCH TREFOIL C
Robinia pseudacacia FALSE ACACIA V
Spartium junceum SPANISH BROOM C
Trifolium incarnatum CRIMSON CLOVER C
Trifolium montanum MOUNTAIN CLOVER V
Trifolium pratense RED CLOVER V
Trifolium repens WHITE CLOVER V
Trifolium stellatum STAR CLOVER C
Vicia cracca TUFTED VETCH V
Vicia sativa COMMON VETCH V
Pinguicula vulgaris COMMON BUTTERWORT V
Linum perenne ssp. alpinum PERENNIAL FLAX V
Viscum album MISTLETOE V
Lythrum salicaria PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE C
Malva sylvestris COMMON MALLOW V
Ficus carica FIG C
Nuphar lutea YELLOW WATER-LILY C
Fraxinus angustifolia NARROW-LEAVED ASH C
Fraxinus excelsior ASH V
Ligustrum vulgare PRIVET C/V
Olea europaea OLIVE C
Orobanche caryophyllacea CLOVE CENTED BROOMRAPE V
Orobanche flava YELLOW BROOMRAPE V
Papaver rhoeas FIELD POPPY C,V
Papaver dubium LONG-HEADED POPPY C,V
Armeria maritima ssp. alpina MOUNTAIN THRIFT V
Polygonum bistorta BISTORT V
Polygala aspestris MOUNTAIN MILKWORT V
Anagallis arvensis SCARLET PIMPERNEL C
Primula veris COWSLIP V
Aconitum napellus MONKS-HOOD V
Aquilegia vulgaris COLUMBINE V
Clematis flammula FRAGRANT CLEMATIS C
Clematis vitalba TRAVELLERS JOY V
Helleborus foetidus STINKING HELLEBORE V
Helleborus viridis GREEN HELLEBORE V
Nigella spp. LOVE-IN-A-MIST V
Pulsatilla alpina ALPINE PASQUE-FLOWER V
Ranunculus nemorosus WOOD BUTTERCUP V
Ranunculus repens CREEPING BUTTERCUP V
Ranunculus sardus HAIRY BUTTERCUP C
Ranunculus bulbosus BULBOUS BUTTERCUP V
Trollius europaeus GLOBEFLOWER V
Reseda phyteuma CORN MIGNONETTE C
Rhamnus alaternus MEDITERRANEAN BUCKTHORN C
Alchemilla alpina ALPINE LADYS MANTLE V
Alchemilla vulgaris LADYS MANTLE V
Amelanchier ovalis SNOWY MESPILUS V
Crataegus monogyna HAWTHORN V
Filipendula ulmaria MEADOW-SWEET V
Filipendula vulgaris DROPWORT V
Fragaria vesca WILD STRAWBERRY V
Dryas octopetela MOUNTAIN AVENS V
Geum rivale WATER AVENS V
Prunus avium WILD CHERRY/GEAN V
Prunus dulcis ALMOND C
Prunus spinosa BLACKTHORN V
Rosa arvensis FIELD ROSE V
Rosa canina DOG ROSE V
Rosa pimpinellifolia BURNET ROSE C,V
Rosa agrestis FIELD BRIAR v
Rubus saxatilis ROCK BRAMBLE V
Rubus ulmifolius BLACKBERRY/BRAMBLE C,V
Sorbus aria WHITEBEAM V
Sorbus aucuparia ROWAN V
Galium verum LADYS BEDSTRAW V
Populus alba WHITE POPLAR C
Populus nigra BLACK POPLAR C
Populus tremula ASPEN V
Thesium sp. BASTARD TOADFLAX V
Saxifraga granulata MEADOW SAXIFRAGE V
Saxifraga cespitosa V
Antirrhinum majus SNAPDRAGON V
Erinus alpinus FAIRY FOXGLOVE V
Melampyrum arvense FIELD COW-WHEAT V
Melampyrum velebiticm V
Rhinanthus alectorolophus GREATER YELLOW-RATTLE V
Scrophularia canina ALPINE/FRENCH FIGWORT V
Verbascum pulverulentum HOARY MULLEIN V
Verbascum thapus GREAT MULLEIN C
Veronica austriaca ssp. teucrium LARGE SPEEDWELL V
Veronica chamaedrys GERMANDER SPEEDWELL V
Veronica spicata SPIKED SPEEDWELL V
Tamarix tetrgyna TAMARISK C
Daphne mezereum MEZEREON V
Orlaya grandifolia ORLAYA C
Urtica dioica STINGING NETTLE V
Valeriana officinalis COMMON VALERIAN V
Viola calcarata LONG-SPURRED PANSY V
Viola tricolour ssp. subalpina HEARTSEASE V
Narcissus poeticus PHEASANTS-EYE NARCISSUS V
Narcissus minor LESSER WILD DAFFODIL V
Arum italicum LARGE LORDS-AND-LADIES V
Arundo donax GIANT REED C
Cynosurus echinatus ROUGH DOGS TAIL C
Briza maxima LARGE QUAKING GRASS C
Dactylis glomerata COCKS FOOT V
Hordeum murinum WALL BARLEY C
Phragmites australis COMMON REED C
Iris pseudacorus YELLOW FLAG C
Iris spuria sub.sp. maritima C
Gladiolus italicus FIELD GLADIOLUS C,V
Juncus acutus SHARP RUSH C
Juncus maritimus SEA RUSH C
Allium ursinum RAMSONS V
Anthericum liliago ST BERNARDS LILY V
Aphyllanthes monspeliensis BLUE APHYLLANTHES C,V
Asphodelus aestivus COMMON ASPHODEL V
Convallaria majalis LILLY-OF-THE-VALLEY V
Dipcadi serotinum BORWN BLUEBELL/DIPCADI C
Erythronium dens-canis DOGS-TOOTH VIOLET V
Lilium martagon MARTAGON LILY V
Ornithogalum umbellatum STAR-OF-BETHLEHEM V
Paradisea liliastrum ST BRUNOS LILY V
Paris quadrifolia HERB PARIS V
Polygonatum odoratum ANGULAR SOLOMONS SEAL V
Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis WILD TULIP V
Aceras anthropophorum MAN ORCHID V
Anacamptis pyramidalis PYRAMIDAL ORCHID V
Cephalanthera damasonium WHITE HELLEBORINE V
Cephalanthera longifolia SWORD-LEAVED HELLEBORINE V
Corallorhiza trifida CORALROOT ORCHID V
Cypripedium calceolus LADYS SLIPPER ORCHID V
Dactylorhiza incarnata EARLY MARSH ORCHID V
Dactylorhiza fuchsii COMMON SPOTTED ORCHID V
Dactylorhiza majalis BROAD-LEAVED MARSH ORCHID V
PUGSLEYS MARSH ORCHID V
Dactylorhiza sambucina ELDER-FLOWERED ORCHID V
Gymnadenia conopsea FRAGRANT ORCHID V
Himantoglossum hircinum LIZARD ORCHID C
Limodorum abortivum VIOLET BIRDSNEST ORCHID V
Listera ovata TWAYBLADE V
Neottia nidus-avis BIRDS NEST ORCHID V
Ophrys apifera BEE ORCHID V
Ophrys bertolonii subsp. drumonii BERTOLONIS BEE ORCHID V
Ophrys fuciflora LATE SPIDER ORCHID V
Ophrys insectifera FLY ORCHID V
Orchis laxiflora LOOSE-FLOWERED ORCHID V
Orchis mascula EARLY PURPLE ORCHID V
Orchis militaris MILITARY ORCHID V
Orchis purpurea LADY ORCHID V
Orchis simla MONKEY ORCHID V
Orchis spitzelii V
Orchis ustulata BURNT-TIP ORCHID V
Platanthera bifolia LESSER BUTTERFLY ORCHID V
Typha latifolia COMMON REEDMACE C
Botrychium lunaria MOONWORT V
Polystichum aculeatum SHIELD FERN V
Polystichum lonchitis HOLLY FERN V
? OAK FERN V
Galactites tomentosa GALACTITES C
AND FINALLY ..
The Camargue area was its usual self; full of birds of a variety of hues. Pink Flamingos, blue Rollers multi-coloured Bee-Eaters and numerous little brown jobs (or jobbies for the Scots of the group). New species, though hard to find, came in the shape of a male Garganey (have we really never seen one in the Camargue before Jamie?), a Greylag Goose at Vigueirat Marshes and a group of Grey Plovers (with Dunlins and a single Knot) near Stes Maries.
Discovering Little Bustard at Montpellier airport was a good find (even before we had reached the terminal building!). We paused so that everyone could see this bird and had another tour group join us as we watched. However, airport security viewed us as a risk and moved us on quite quickly! Seeing Mikes first ever Great Spotted Cuckoo was brilliant but perhaps the birding highlight, in the Camargue at least, was not knowing whether to watch two male Spectacled Warblers in a territorial dispute or the group of 14 Honey Buzzards arriving low off the Mediterranean.
The Vercors was magnificent, even more so than most people had expected. It is one of those undiscovered corners of France where birds, mammals, flowers, butterflies and scenery on a grand scale all mingle together to provide a wonderful wildlife-watching experience. Once again, our local guide, Bruno, was able to show us Wallcreeper (at the same nest site as last time), though we did have a rather long wait to see it. The Griffon Vulture re-introduction programme continues to do well but of the wandering Egyptian and Monk (Black) Vultures, there was no sign. Perhaps there will be next year.
So we ended up with 158 species of birds plus lots of butterflies, a few mammals and a pretty impressive flower list too. (of the 281 species noted, 27 were wild orchids including Ladys Slipper and Coralroot). Thanks go to Liz and Elizabeth for compiling such a super list of plants and to Paul Harvey for helping with this and, of course, all of his other co-leading duties on this tour.
The good humour helped to fill the time between species and between courses at each meal time and, as usual, the sumptuous Hotel Robinson picnics were simply the best!
Heres to the next time.
© The Travelling Naturalist 2003