A week in the French Pyrenees

We recently spent a week in a Gite in the Pyrenees with 2 friends. I thought i'd run through the week in order (sort of)

Day 1

Arrived & unpacked & rushed to the nearest bridge over a river & found 2 Dippers, what a great start!

Day 2

It rained almost non-stop all day, a quick dash out in a short lull.

Day 3

According to the news there are floods everywhere with around 120mm of rain the previous 24 hours. Mudslides all over. However we weren't going to sit in all day so took a drive to a place we knew that did good food & on the way found some toads that didn't mind the rain,

we also disturbed this White Admiral (long way off)

& on the way home found a nice spot with a big fly on the cow dung

& highlight of a dull day was a Red-backed Shrike nearby!

Day 4

Suns out! Oh my goodness, you can see the hills all around & there are Vultures nearby, Griffons

& Egyptian

the rivers are still all very loud & busy

& we found a nice couple of dogs who picked us up in a village & walked around with us for about an hour & then went off home

In the afternoon we went off together for a drive to the Col de Somport to see Citril finches.

Day 5

An early morning trip to the loacal baker led to a pleasant suprise as we discovered the Vultures & Kites favourite take-away at the local rugby ground,

& after feeding they flew overhead to the cliffs closeby

They were amazing, I've never seen such big beautiful birds so close. We decided to get there at the start of feeding time the next day. However we went off for a walk & there were a few more butterflies around, a lovely Small tortoieshell

& more vultures flying around & on cliffs

In the afternoon we went to the lovely hilltop village of Aydius & took another dog for a walk (why us?)

She kept stopping for us & inevitably shared our biscuit we had with a cup of tea. We found a great auberge there too where we ate the next night. Still not many butterflies, but it wasn't very warm either!

Will stop there for now otherwise I might loose all this. part 2 tomorrow.


Best wishes

Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • Glad the weather improved for you, Hazel. Good to see the Griffons. They seem to be doing quite well these days. What a size difference between them and the Kites (Black?).

    Looking forward to part 2.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Great set of species and photo Hazel but sorry the weather was so bad at times as that raging river shows from all the rainfall.    I also look forward to Part 2.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Thanks Hazy & TJ. Most of the Kites were Red but occasionally we had Black Kites.

    Day 6,

    Off to the feeding spot & got there just after the event, birds everywhere!

    I tried in-flights but on zoom it was hopeless, they came far too close

    This one was a bit better

    & got this one taking off

    We had a walk around near the village but although it didn't rain, it was dull. Then in the afternoon we went for a drive with our friends & the car shot to a halt just out of our village & Nick shouted what was that, reversed back, & there on the verge was a Rock bunting (not finch thanks TJ). New for us & quite rare. I got some piccies this time & was probably the bird of the holiday.

    We parked further on in a quiet spot & found a few moths & a caterpillar of a Grass Eggar

    & then the weather closed in, although we saw more Red-backed shrikes on a hill-top.

    Day 7,

    Our last day & it looks like being great. We got to the feeding ground early, there were around 70 Red Kites flying around in anticipation.

    The feeder was a man we'd met in our wanderings in the village

    He is spreading what we were told was leftovers from cheesemaking

    the Kites go off quite quickly & leave the Vultures to it, with a couple of Ravens

    & then they all flew up to the cliff

    So after a great start Ron & I walked up to a viewpoint & had a good lot of butterflies (at last), several Large Skippers,

    & a Green Hairstreak

    then for the afternoon we drove to a plain at about 800m & found a little track bustling with life, a gorgeous moth, Anania funebris,

    dozens of Large Whites, Blues, Speckled Yellow moths, & my butterfly of the holiday, my first Chequered Skipper (mentioned recently on the butterfly thread) so what a coincidence,

    So I finally had a couple of hours chasing butterflies! Great!

    Day 8

    Pack up & go home!

    The Aspe valley is absolutely stunning, but prone to be wet! We stayed in Osse-en-Aspe. For butterflies you need a good year or to go a few weeks later. For birds, the views of the Vultures were exceptional. We'll be going back in our camper just as soon as we can get the garden in a state to leave it for another week!

    Thanks for looking!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Holiday snaps with a difference alright H ... great to share, thanks!


     2013 photos & vids here

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  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Good update, Hazel. No wonder the Griffons and kites are thriving with that feeding station.

    No Lammergeiers or Bearded Vultures as they now seem to call them? I saw my first ones in the Val d'Aran which is on the Spanish side although ironically the river drains into France. Someone did a bit of land grab in the old days.

    Incidentally, your star bird and very pretty it is too, I know as a Rock Bunting rather than a Rock finch.

    Glad you caught up with the butterflies and moths. What a stunning moth - had to look it up - and apparently it does occur in the UK although patchily. The Chequered Skipper is gorgeous.



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  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Lovely Hazel, you certainly have beautiful photos there. You have had a good time. Those Vultures do look huge! The sight off all those Red Kite must have been awesome.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    That must have been some sight Hazel all those Vultures and Kites being fed, lovely to see the Rock Finch, never heard of one.

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  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Thanks all for your comments.

    TeeJay said:
    No Lammergeiers or Bearded Vultures as they now seem to call them?

    Our friends saw some & we have seen one in the past, but it wasn't really the weather for a lot of birding!

    TeeJay said:
    Incidentally, your star bird and very pretty it is too, I know as a Rock Bunting rather than a Rock finch.

    My trouble is that it's a Bruant fou here, I got muddled in the translation! A bit foolish LOL

    i was dead pleased to get the Chequered Skipper, especially as we were only talking about it a few weeks ago from the Springwatch programme.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    What a fabulous thread to look through Hazel, you had a slow start but more than made up for it with the sightings of the Kites and Vultures, as TJ said you can see the size of the Vulture compared with the Kite which is such a huge bird.  It looks a lovely area to visit, maybe in the dry season, the butterflies are exceptional.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to Noisette:

    What fabulous photo Hazel, and it looks like you had a fabulous time in the Pyrenees.


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