• Fly from London to Bergerac where we meet our guide. From here it is about a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac-et-Grand-Castang. The local area is most attractive, and we can walk down to the barrage while black kites float overhead and black redstarts sing from the rooftops. After supper we may step out to the riverside, where nightingales sing and green frogs cackle in the gathering dusk.
    • Accommodation: Mauzac, 7-nights on full board basis.
    • Today, accompanied by botanist Corine Oosterlee, we visit the dry stony habitats on the local honey-coloured Cretaceous limestone. The trip starts with a visit to the Trémolat viewpoint looking out over the River Dordogne followed by a short walk to a field with many orchids such as green-winged, tongue, fly, bee, early spider, small spider, burnt, violet limodore and twayblade.  Nearby we take a deer track through a wood of stunted downy oaks to a clearing with many more orchids including early purple and the scarce yellow bee. This is also a good spot to get an idea of typical limestone flora. 
    • In the morning we head for Les Eyzies village, billed as the ‘Prehistory Capital of France’ and home to the National Museum of Prehistory and many settlement sites and caves with paintings locally. We will take a one hour trip on a small electric train at Rouffignac to see some wonderful black and white prehistoric cave paintings. 
    • Peregrines, ravens and crag martins nest on the cliffs along the Vézère valley and the area is also excellent for butterflies including false heath fritillary and large copper in the marshy meadows. In the woods golden oriole, Bonelli’s warbler, firecrest and short-toed treecreeper are common. We’ll stop at several hotspots as we tour the valley. 
    • Eymt reservoir lies amongst arable farmland and small woods. As we walk around the smaller lake we will look for waterbirds and waders plus field and woodland birds like golden oriole and turtle dove and a variety of commoner orchids, dragonflies and butterflies. The gravel pits lie west of Sainte Foy La Grande and support a similar range of species with a chance of interesting migrants such as osprey. 
    • Bessède is a managed forest on a sandy plateau, where forestry activities create different woodland habitats. We will visit various locations in the forest notably for birds like hen harrier, dartford warbler, crested tit, golden oriole, turtle dove and wood warbler. Butterflies are varied and include maarsh fritillary. Small ponds may hold some early dragonflies and we will visit a couple of good areas for orchids.
    • Faux Plateau is a rather special birdwatching area, where species include crested lark, turtle dove, stone curlew, rock sparrow, hoopoe, and occasionally hen harrier and shrikes. Quail can be heard calling from the arable fields whilst nightingales and melodious warblers sing from the scrub. The plateau is also an excellent site for butterflies, with knapweed and Glanville fritillaries plus the scarcer mazarine and green-underside blue to be looked for, as well as several orchids including long-lipped tongue. A reservoir site should add to our waterbird sightings and there are also good butterflies and orchids.
    • Today we will again be joined by Corine. The Causse de Daglan is an exceptional area for flora and fauna. In contrast to earlier in the week around Trémolat, this area lies on more ancient white Jurassic limestone. Dry slopes here show a typical limestone flora different from the rest of Dordogne. 
    • We’ll visit sites such as Saint Pompon, Montalieu and Veyrines de Domme to discover the special flora including orchids. Sites include damp meadows where there is a chance of marsh orchids as well. It is also a very rich area for butterflies and short-toed eagle hunt locally.
    • We should have time for a morning trip on the river in a traditional ‘gabarre’ boat, which should provide us with excellent views of nesting black kites as well as species such as kingfisher and grey wagtail. Then we will return to Bergerac for our flight back to the UK.

David Simpson is the primary leader on this trip, with expert botanist Corine Oosterlee joining us for two days.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities

Accommodation

We are based at the cosy riverside Hotel Le Barrage at Mauzac, just upstream from Lalinde, an excellent venue with comfortable rooms, good food and excellent hosts. All rooms are en suite.

Meals

All main meals are included. Dordogne is noted for its excellent cuisine. Breakfast and dinner will be taken at the hotel and lunches in auberges, to sample the local cuisine ‘du terroir,’ or as picnics, depending upon the weather.

Birds

On our tour we will be keeping an eye open for a diverse range of birds, such as turtle dove, nightingale, melodious warbler, Bonelli’s warbler, golden oriole, cirl and corn buntings, rock sparrow, crested lark, stone curlew, hen harrier, honey buzzard, black-winged kite, hobby and hoopoe.

  • Hoopoe
  • Golden oriole
  • Melodious warbler
  • Stone curlew

Insects

Many species which are rare or extinct in the UK can be seen including European swallowtail, marsh fritillary and black-veined white. Southern species attracted by the warmer climate include scarce swallowtail, Cleopatra, turquoise blue, Berger’s clouded yellow and spotted fritillary. We will also look out for early dragonflies and other interesting insects.

  • Marsh fritillary
  • Turquoise blue
  • Scarce swallowtail
  • Cleopatra

Flora

At this time of year the flora of the Dordogne is outstanding and orchids abound with over 30 species recorded. British rarities can be found alongside exotics. Especially rich are the many limestone habitats.

  • Lady orchid
  • Sombre bee orchid
  • Violet limodore
  • Long-tipped tongue orchid

Scenery

The area is dominated by the classic Dordogne oak forest and limestone meadows, cut through by the majestic River Dordogne. Our tour also takes us into a number of other interesting habitats including river cliffs, arable plains, heathlands and wetlands. The region is studded with pretty honey-coloured villages, ancient churches, chateaux and caves.

Boat trips

River conditions permitting, one day we take a cruise on the River Dordogne to appreciate birds of prey soaring overhead, including black kites, dragonflies flitting over the river and the stunning landscape.

Photography

Our tour is designed as a gentle introduction to the riches of the region. There will be ample opportunities for photography which we can review each evening at the hotel.

Archaeology

Dordogne is a centre of prehistory. The Vézère Valley around Les Eyzies is a world heritage UNESCO site containing many caves with engravings and paintings, both mono and polychromatic, cliff shelters and troglodytic settlements dating back at least 15,000 years. We plan to visit the Rouffignac Cave with it’s famous Mammoth paintings and engravings.

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London – Bergeac – London.

Ground transport

Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.

  1. 2017
  2. May 2016
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