- Fly from London to Bergerac where we meet our local guide. From here it is around a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac-et-Grand-Castang. We should have time to make a stop on the way to see our first birds, butterflies and flowers.
- Accommodation: Mauzac, 7-nights on full board basis.
- We start above the River Dordogne at a viewpoint looking out over the valley cut through Cretaceous limestone hills. Here we look for peregrine, black kite, raven, western Bonelli’s warbler, firecrest and cirl bunting.
- This is also a great site for wildflowers and for butterflies. Flowers here may include white rockrose, curry plant, swallow-wort, sprawling needle-sunrose and Carthusian pink, while among the butterflies we hope to see Adonis blue, swallowtail, marbled white and Berger’s clouded yellow.
- Nearby woodland is home to a remarkable diversity of wildflowers and butterflies. We look for spotted fritillary, great banded grayling and flowers including red and small-leaved helleborines, white lace flower, mountain Inula, common Globularia and bedstraw broomrape.
- We spend today exploring this fascinating sandy forest where management creates a range of habitats for wildlife. Forest birds may include hen harrier, Dartford warbler, crested tit, golden oriole, turtle dove and wood warbler.
- Butterflies here are very varied. Damp acid grassland supports false ringlet, small pearl-bordered fritillary and large chequered skipper. In hidden meadows along streams we may find lesser purple emperor, high brown fritillary and heath fritillary.
- Among the many wildflowers we may find here are lesser butterfly orchid, marsh helleborine, sweet spurge, hastate-leaved self-heal, heath lobelia and Kerry lily.
- Our route takes us through the dramatic lower Vézère Valley where we will look for peregrine, raven, crag martin, golden oriole, western Bonelli’s warbler, short-toed treecreeper, kingfisher and white wagtail.
- We visit a number of fascinating sites along the river, both wet and dry. In dry areas the map butterfly is found, along with white and southern white admirals. Flowers here include bastard balm, yellow foxglove and rampion bellflower.
- Some of the best sites for butterflies are the rocky limestone causses. The Causse de Daglan lies on ancient Jurassic limestone and supports an exceptional flora and fauna. Broad-leaved lavender and the strange-smelling pitch trefoil are characteristic here.
- The area is very rich in butterflies. We may see great banded grayling, ilex and blue-spot hairstreaks, and safflower, red-underwing and Lulworth skippers, among some 30 species of butterfly.
- High on a plateau above the beautiful Ceou valley we look for wildflowers including Etruscan honeysuckle, bird’s-nest orchid, wild candytuft, slender bedstraw and barren strawberry.
- We visit another classic dry causse, which is outstanding for raptors, butterflies and wildflowers and is home to many of Dordogne’s rare species.
- Characteristic flowers of Jurassic limestone here include hyssop-leaved Sideritis, Montpellier milk-vetch and pinecone thistle. They are found beside more typical limestone species such as St. Bernard’s lily, blue lettuce, Cantabria morning glory and grass pea.
- Butterflies here may include southern small white, Escher’s blue, large wall brown, woodland grayling and Cleopatra. Short-toed and booted eagles are characteristic of the area, while woodlark, tree pipit and cirl bunting should be in song.
- This area of dry farmland is rich in wildlife, especially birds. In the mosaic of fields, hedges and farms here we may see black-winged kite, red-backed shrike, rock sparrow, crested lark and turtle dove.
- In wilder meadows the limestone flora includes needle-sunroses, ground pine, field gladiolus, lizard orchid and the beautiful meadow clary. Among the butterflies, various blues, skippers and fritillaries are found.
- At a reservoir in the Dropt valley we look for dragonflies including white-tailed and black-tailed skimmers and the lovely violet dropwing. Nearby along the Couze stream we may see dippers.
- After a last look at the wonderful birds, butterflies and wildflowers of Dordogne we take our flight home from Bergerac.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
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.
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.
This is a good time for seeing the summer visitors in Dordogne, as well as the resident species as nesting is well advanced.
- Honey buzzard
- Golden oriole
- Turtle dove
The region has around 120 butterfly species recorded, twice the number of the UK. They are at peak numbers and diversity now, including several rarities.
- Lesser purple emperor
- Woodland grayling
- Spotted fritillary
- Short-tailed blue
The Dordogne has an unexpectedly diverse flora due to the rich mosaic of habitats and because the region lies between different climatic zones. June is the peak flowering time for many species.
- Blue lettuce
- Red helleborine
- White rockrose
- Curry plant
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.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Bergerac – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.