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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Les alpilles, Provence, France: 1st-2nd Feb (1 Viewer)

Marc Suller

Well-known member
My French mate Seb lives in the Rhone Valley about 2 hours drive from Les Baux. So, as I was visiting for a few days, arranged to pop down to Les Baux (and Mount Ventoux) in search of Wallcreepers, alpine accentors, Eagle Owls, Citril Finch and others.

Got to Les Baux at midday, parked near the main village car park, and immediately found 2 alpine accentors which were very tame, allowing views down to 2 feet. I suddenly heard a song from a nearby pine tree that I recognised as a firecrest. The bird then showed well but flew off before I could get a photo.

We walked around the narrow cobbled streets for a while but it was bitterly cold with a strong wind funnelling through the streets. Decided to go for lunch of Pate baguettes to warm up before exploring the cliffs for wallcreepers. We parked next to the La Village sign on the straight road leading from the town towards arles, then took the path past the statue. This leads you around the base of the cliffs on which the town is built. Despite carefully scanning the cliff face all the way around the plateau, we failed to find any wallcreepers, although Sardinian Warblers were calling from the shrubs. However, as we started to retrace our steps the sun emerged and I had a hunch that they may like the West cliffs facing the sun. Sure enough, we finally found 2 Wallcreepers and a Male Blue Rock Thrush. Just beside the path, a ladder snake was taking a break from hibernation to bask in the sun (although it was still very cold). Walking back to the car, we noticed a Black Redstart and a Peregrine Falcon that flew along the cliff and up over the village.

Next stop was the nearby Mount Craume with the possibility of Citril Finches and Bonelli's Eagles. The walk is gently uphill for a few kilometres to a radar station with a few along a valley that is good for Bonelli's. However, the woods were very quiet and the valley empty. On the way back, I did see another Firecrest and a Crested Tit (only my second ever) and managed to get attacked by a dog.

We then checked into the hotel in Saint Remy de Provence, before driving back to the site near Les Baux that is good for Eagle Owls at dusk. Waited until it was dark with no luck although it was very cold and the strong wind prevented us from hearing the owls calling.

The following morning, we drove north to Mount Ventoux, the slopes of which were shrouded in mist. This soon cleared as we ventured higher leaving clear skies and beautiful views. Stopped at Chateau Reynaud above the snow line where Citril Finches and even Snow Finches can be found. However, the cafe is closed on a Tuesday and the birds absent apart from a pair of Common Crossbill. Cars are not allowed to the top so we parked and continued up towards the summit on foot. Birds were few although I managed to find several alpine accentors, more crossbills, coal tits, and a crested tit. Several small finches flew over and out of sight although their flight calls suggested they were siskins and not citril finches. We then drove to the other side of the mountain near the Mount Serinin junction in search of citril finches and Snow finches but with no luck, before heading back to Bro's place for delicious home made sausages from a pig they had recently slaughtered.

The only other bird of note was a Great White Egret during a walk in a nature reserve next to the Rhone. The area has promise with nesting Bee Eaters and Black Woodpeckers. Perhaps a return visit in the Spring is called for, with a detour to the Carmague and La Crau.


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Nice report. I was there are few weeks ago and saw a similar selection of birds. The top of Mont-Ventoux was misty so I struggled a bit to find anything, although I did manage a Rock Bunting near the cafe.
Thanks Andrew

Walked for a while around, and above, the cafe and it was very quiet. I wondered whether scraps from the cafe attract the birds (when open). I would have loved to have seen a Rock Bunting though. My mates house is convenient for many sites - 2 hours from Carmague, La Crau and the Higher alps to the East. I am planning my next trip already.
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