France – Last days of Languedoc

Lézignan – Fontfroide hills

I am grateful for Philippa and Languedoc Birding for showing us all around the area in search of birds. There is no way Steve and I could have done this on our own. We would have been lucky to see only a quarter of the birds if we had done this ourselves. It truly does make a difference to find someone who knows the area and its hot spots, is respectful of the region and who also is a joy to be around.

Our last full day of birding was at Lézignan – Fontfroide hills where we made a quick stop at a Mediterranean river gorge to find the Blue Rock Thrush then to a small airfield known for its population of both Little bustard and Stone curlew, which we saw next to the airstrip as well as the Great Spotted Cuckoo.

One thing I like to boast about as a birder is that while I’m terrible at ID’ing birds, I’m terrific at spotting them. On this day, all I needed to do was point and say, “What is that bird way over there?”

This time it was the Montagu’s Harrier. (You’re welcome.)

This is how you bird and picnic in France.

We enjoyed our last picnic in the shade by the Orbieu river where both a Golden Oriole and Hoopoe took turns serenading us. This would be the last time I’d enjoy one of Dominique’s fantastic Mediterranean salads.

Notable birds for the day included the Woodchat Shrike, a Nightingale uncharacteristically sitting in full view on a dead branch and the Common Rock Thrush (we re-named “un-common” since it’s not exactly common anymore). And the final bird with the Golden Eagle that obligingly flew right over our heads.

Our total species for the 7-day trip was 120 (106 seen and 14 heard).

* * *

The following morning Philippa shuttled us to Montpelier where we were to depart. Brian and Ann were returning on a flight to the U.K., and Steve and I were going to take the train to Arles for the next chapter on our France journey.

The impressive fountain at MO.CO Montepellier Contemporain

We had one last lunch together at the MO.CO Montpellier Contemporain (contemporary art museum) restaurant, which was right across the street from the train station.

It’s also where I swooned after taking a bite of the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life.

The best dessert of my entire life (so far).
Poire Pochée au cidre et hibiscus, meringue et chantilly

I know that France is probably not high on everyone’s list of places to travel to see birds, but I highly recommend it and I urge you to join one of the Birding Languedoc tours. Philippa and her team are very knowledgeable. (And don’t forget about the Mediterranean dishes, the wine, the cheese, the croissants.)

If you’ve been following this blog recently, you know that we waited over two years for this trip. We began our connection with Philippa when we first booked our trip in 2020 and she was understanding and patient when we had to cancel just weeks before our trip in 2020 and again in 2021 when France went into another lock down. Philippa met us in Montpellier when we first arrived and it felt like a joyful reunion even though we had not yet met in person. It was over two years of anticipation and Philippa and our bird guide, Karline, did not disappoint.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Interested in a birding tour of the Languedoc region in France? We highly recommend Birding Languedoc. (We did not receive any compensation, perks or anything else as reward for this trip. Our review and comments about our experience with Birding Languedoc are genuine.)