General Information on Bird Watching in the area
There is a large number of bird species in and around the village of Autignac - for list of what we've seen so far take a look at our database. This list can, of course, be easily increased by visiting some of the surrounding areas: -
- The Regional Parc de Haut-Languedoc, the southern boundary of which lies to the north of Autignac, holds exciting species such as golden eagle (said to be 4 pairs), Bonelli's eagle (5 pairs in the Herault), booted eagle, peregrine, honey buzzard, goshawk, alpine swift, red-rumped swallow, wryneck, bonelli's warbler, hawfinch, ortolan bunting etc. Eagle owls are not uncommon, but there are pairs nearer to Autignac and more accessible. There are several sites where wallcreepers regularly winter, such as Minerve, but, again, this delightful species can be found nearer to our village. Minerve also holds regular wintering alpine accentor.
- The coastal marshes are superb, especially during passage periods. Huge numbers of honey buzzards pass through twice a year and LPO have a local centre at Gruissan, near Narbonne, which gives some of the best viewing opportunities. The lighthouse site at Cap Leucate is another known passage hotspot and also holds breeding thekla lark and spectacle warbler, with spotless starling nearby. Large numbers of greater flamingo winter on the marshes and there are saltworks where wader passage can be good. Slender-billed gulls are regular in all seasons, if you know where to look!
- The Cevennes, about 2 hours from Autignac is worth a trip for griffon and black vulture and other mountain species and for specialist species of the limestone causes, such as rock thrush and ortolan bunting.
- The Carmargue and hinterlands, less than 2 hours away, is, of course, internationally famous and well worth considering for a winter visit, for species such as wallcreeper, Bonelli's eagle and eagle owl. Wintering raptors now regularly include spotted eagle and long-legged buzzard.
- The Pyrenees, about 2 hours from us, are equally well known for all the mountain specialties.
- The superb wetland reserve at Auguemolls in north-east Spain can be reached in about two-and-a-quarter hours and so is easily do-able in a day.
- Other exciting species breed in the Languedoc and I now have local sites for breeding little bustard (65 males counted by LPO in 2007, with stone curlews at the same site), Bonelli's eagle, lesser kestrel (53 pairs in one local village in 2007, a quarter of the French breeding population!), lesser grey shrike, red-rumped swallow, ortolan bunting,etc, as well as the eagle owls mentioned above.
- A Birdwatching Guide to France South of the Loire by J Crozier
- Les Oiseaux du Parc naturel regional du Haut-Languedoc by Sergre Nicolle (possibly not available in the U.K.)