In line with the British heat wave the temperatures high in the mountains were well above average. Still better than heavy rain or low cloud for that matter. Still, the scenery was slightly different...and so were the birds!
The area to travel is reasonable. We could reach Gavarnie (the southern most point) from St Savin (our base) in less than an hour. The scenery is simply stunning and thankfully the traffic was VERY light which makes a hell of a difference to the quality of your holiday.
- Being privileged to see (with help) Lammergeier, Eagle Owl and Golden Eagle nests adults and juveniles. Not bad!
- Finally obtaining crippling views of Rock Sparrow (thanks Charles).
- Seeing a pair of Black Woodpeckers on my final morning.
- Connecting with the Snowfinches at the Col du Toumelet.
If you're looking for big numbers this isn't the place for you. However, if you're looking for iconic species this IS an area to consider. I don't want to repetition...if possible! So, I thought I'd start my summary with a trip list...
Snowy Egret - seen north of Lourdes on my RS twitch
White Stork - seen north of Lourdes on my RS twitch
Lammergeier - Adult and juvenile seen at nest at beginning of Valle d'Ossoue, also seen at Gedre and Cirque du Troumouse.
Egyptian Vulture - pair seen at Pibest,
Griffon Vulture - seen in both higher and lower areas of the Gave Valley
Short-toed Eagle - Charles picked one out at the Luz Eagle Owl site, 2 at Pibeste
Common Buzzard - pair seen above Bareges
Golden Eagle - both adults and juvenile seen around nest at Gavarnie
Woodpigeon - only one bird seen at Bareges
Eurasian Eagle-owl - Adult and juvenile seen at Luz nest site
Tawny Owl - juvenile on road at dusk as we returned to St Savin
Great Spotted Woodpecker
BLACK WOODPECKER - 2 birds seen at Leinz above Bareges on my last morning. LIFER!
Crag Martin - fairly common. Nesting sites in Luz village
Water Pipit - widespread at higher altitude
Whinchat - only a single bird at Sague
Northern Wheatear - widespread. Great to see singing and displaying
Blackbird - abundant in woodland
Song Thrush - many seen in woodland, nearly all briefly in flight
Mistle Thrush - only a single bird seen above Bareges
Melodious Warbler - family party at Pibeste
Garden Warbler - singing birds on path to the Cirque de Gavarnie
Crested Tit - single bird seen on 2 occasions at Leinz above Bareges
Red-backed Shrike - Male seen at nest site at beginning of Valle d'Ossoue
Red-billed Chough - only seen at Lac du Gloriettes
Yellow-billed Chough - widespread at high altitude
ROCK SPARROW - major sighting at Llane. LIFER!
Snowfinch - Seen well eventually at nest site at Col du Tourmalet
Yellowhammer - one singing male at Lac du Gloriettes
Rock Bunting - seen well on 2 occasions at beginning of Valle d'Ossoue
A selection of photos to follow...