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Birding SW France (3 Viewers)

hookem2010

Well-known member
I am in the very beginnings of planning a family trip to France, perhaps next April but the dates are not yet set in stone.
It will not be a birding-specific trip, but as always, I intend to sneak away here and there to fit some bird walks in.
The general plan currently is to spend a few days in Paris, then train to Bordeaux, where my wife has family. I'm also thinking of briefly renting a car and trying to squeeze in a night or two in the Pyrenees.
I'm American who's never crossed the Atlantic, so most everything should be new for me. Any recommendations for birding the Bordeaux region, the Pyrenees and timing of the trip? Thanks!
 
I'm not familiar with this area, but I suppose you will start with the réserve and Parc Ornithologique du Teich, near Bordeaux (even by bus). Once there you should take some advice from local birders about target species...
Maybe also Réserve d'Arjuzanx, and Réserve Naturelle des Marais d'Orx and the massif d’Eltzarruze (I haven't been there, but it's on the way to the mountains)...
In the Pyrennées, col de l'Ipparla near Bidarray comes to mind, I was only trekking, not for the birds, but I remember Griffons a few meters from me flying from one valley to the other, with the vallée d'Urrizate nearby and Réserve Naturelle des Penas de Itsusi, Artzamendi. Also the Pic de Béhorléguy... Then you have the higher mountains to the south, pic du Midi d'Ossau, etc. but again, I'm not familiar.
That's 4-5 areas that you should find easily on Bings maps or similar, 1-2 nights in the mountains would be great if you get good weather (maybe wait before booking if you are there out of local holidays, and watch the weather), very scenic, also for non birders.
Some places in the Pyrennées are really great right now, for autumn migrations, in the spring I suppose that May-June would best with most African migrants back, but plenty to see in April.
 
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I visited France last summer - a mostly non-birding week with family in Limoges, then 4 1/2 days for for general natural history in the Camargue. Somone on this forum recommended a Crossbill Guide, which we found to be an excellent resource for regional natural history as well as specific birding areas. I don't know if they have a guide for that area, but you might check it out.
 

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