• Fly from London to Lyon, in south-east France, and begin the journey to Chichilianne. Along the way we may see numerous species of raptor and there is a chance of glimpsing white stork. Arriving at Chichilianne, we should see various flowers along the roadsides, and looming large above the village will be the spectacular Mont Aiguille with the Hauts Plateaux ridge beyond.
    • Accommodation: Chichilianne, 3-nights on full board basis.
    • Over the next two days we explore the area around Chichilianne, visiting various habitats as we search for the Vercors’ birds and stroll through fields and woodlands full of wild flowers. In spring, we have good chances to get close to perhaps a dozen species of orchid, including the tiny coralroot, showy lady’s slipper and the very rare Spitzel’s orchids.  Birds to be looked for around here include Eurasian griffon, golden and short-toed eagles, goshawk and black woodpecker.
    • From Chichilianne, we may also visit the lovely Vallée de Combeau, where we can stroll through flower-rich alpine meadows to see what we can locate; certainly more orchids will feature among the many other glorious species.
    • We take a leisurely day-long journey to La Chapelle-en-Vercors. We will begin by crossing the Col de Menée and pause to view the spectacular Cirque d’Archiane, where a new breeding colony of Eurasian griffons has recently established itself on some of the towering cliffs. Golden eagles breed here too, but one of our main reasons for visiting this location is to search for chamois and Alpine ibex.
    • Later we will continue to our hotel, whose grounds usually hold serin, and common and black redstarts – and scops owls have recently colonised the village.
    • Accommodation: La Chapelle-en-Vercors, 4-nights on full board basis
    • The broad range of habitats around this village offer many options for excursions and we will make choices depending on personal preferences and/or the prevailing weather conditions. Certainly on one day we will head northwards through the Gorges de la Bourne. Here we will begin by seeking dippers and grey wagtails and then head on to look for marsh warblers breeding beside a small stream.
    • The numerous high cliffs in this region offer us the best possibility of locating one of Europe’s most sought after species, the wallcreeper.
    • We will also visit other spectacular locations such as the Font d’Urle, where we will walk through an alpine meadow full of stunning spring flowers. Here we also hope to see red-billed choughs in amongst their yellow-beaked cousins, the alpine chough, some of which nest in a small cave nearby.
    • We may drive to another part of the Hauts Plateaux after an early evening meal. On this occasion we will be searching for two of the region’s special owls, namely pygmy and Tengmalm’s.
    • We leave the Vercors National Park today. Depending on homeward flight times, we may make a visit to some lakes not far from Grenoble, where little bittern, European bee-eater and nightingale are regularly present, and other possibilities include purple and grey herons, black-crowned night heron, little egret and little ringed plover. We complete the journey back to Lyon airport for our flight back to London.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities
  • 2nd leader subject to minimum numbers

Accommodation

Both hotels are 2-stars with all rooms en suite.

Meals

Meals are included

Birds

As well as a good range of mountain bird in the high tops, the forests have a definite Central and Eastern European influence.

  • Alpine chough
  • Citril finch
  • Golden eagle
  • Black woodpecker

There is the possibility of spotting up to four species of vulture and the elusive wallcreeper.

Mammals

The mammals here are fascinating.

  • Alpine chamois
  • Red squirrel
  • Alpine marmot
  • Ibex

Scenery

We return to this area of mountainous limestone on the edge of the French Alps. Deep gorges cut by rivers over millions of years are topped by a plateau rising to over 2,300 metres, dramatic scenery home to a range of flora and fauna.

Flora

We are travelling at a time when the Vercors flora is superb, with alpine meadows carpeted in colourful blossoms, and an abundance of wild orchid species to dazzle and delight.

Walking

Although we visit an alpine region, this is a gently paced walking tour with the vehicle taking us to the higher locations.

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London – Lyon – London.

Ground transport

Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.

  1. June 2014
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