News, Trip Reports, etc

Birdwatching on the Ile de Re, France

 
Spoonbills... small numbers present in winter

Birding on the Biscay coast

Location of Ile de Re click here

Photos taken Ile de Re, see also gallery

The nearest coastal area to Moulismes is on the Bay of Biscay, around La Rochelle. The best all-round birding area is probably the west end of the Ile de Re, accessible by road bridge [toll, see Ile de Re website]. Here there are good coastal habitats; saltpans, saltmarsh, low rocky headlands and beaches. The patches of woodland here seem strangely bereft of birds, as do usually the mudflats, the latter probably due to shooting
For rare migrant passerines, it’s too far into the Bay compared with hot-spots like Ile d’Ouessant far to the north. However, it does provide sea-watching at the Phare des Baleines lighthouse, with winter seabirds there also, wader roosts, and an LPO reserve with some superb coastal lagoons and saltmarsh
Bird species recorded 310+

PHARE DES BALEINES LIGHTHOUSE

On the western tip of the island, the lighthouse stands on a low rocky headland offering some elevation for sea-watching, also nice rock pools with waders, terns, gulls and egrets on the ebbing tide
The lighthouse and seafood restaurants there are a popular tourist attraction, after 11.30 a.m. the parking gets very busy, so mornings and evenings are best; early morning high tides are ideal

L. argentatus 1st-winter
 
1st-winter Herring Gull, Phare des Baleines

LILLEAU DES NIGES LPO RESERVE

Situated east of Les Portes-en -Re, about four kilometres from the lighthouse, with a good information centre, Maison du Fier, signposted off the main road through Les Portes.
Best from three hours before high tide, there’s a good circular trail taking in saltmarsh, lagoons and protected mudflats. Birds must know they’re safe here as the high tide roost is excellent; up to 3000 Black-tailed Godwits have been counted in September, also 40+ Spoonbills and good Brent Goose counts in winter
Reserve area 195 hectares

LOIX WADER-ROOST

Accessed from a track west of the Ecomusee [museum of history of the salt industry], there’s a coastal footpath enabling one to view the high tide roost in the Fiers d’Ars bay, opposite the Pointe de Fier
Nearby, at Le Martray there is a Sacred Ibis roost viewable from the main D735 road along the isthmus near L’Huitriere de Re oyster farm. In the pines here, up to 140 birds can be seen in late summer

Ars en Re has a picturesque harbour, La Criee, with some pleasant restaurants and a walk to the mouth of the channel overlooking fields and marshland - good for raptors

Cycling is the best way to get around, with cycle hire at Les Portes en Re

Access on and off the island can get congested Sundays and public holidays, especially east and west of the toll booths on the La Rochelle side of the bridge

ACCOMMODATION USED

Camping Municipal ‘La Pree’, Route de la Pointe a Chabot, 17880 LES PORTES EN RE. Tel. 0546 295104. No website. Open 1st April to 30th September

La Moineresse, Chambre d’hotes. Bernadette and Stephane Chatenay, 22 bis route du pertuis, 17880 LES PORTES EN RE. Tel. 0546 295837

REFERENCE SOURCES

A Birdwatching Guide to France South of the Loire. J. Crozier, Arlequin Press, 2000

Les Oiseaux de l'ile de Re. Published by LPO, available Lilleau des Niges information centre

Ile de Re official website www.iledere.com

Lilleau des Niges website Réserve Naturelle de lilleau des Niges

L. argentatus ad-winter
 
Herring Gull adult, Phare des Baleines

BIRDS RECORDED

126 species recorded over four trips made in February, March, May and September

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - 2 near Phare des Baleines, March 08
LITTLE GREBE
GREAT CRESTED GREBE
SLAVONIAN GREBE - Good numbers winter offshore.
BLACK-NECKED GREBE - Offshore in winter, sometimes on the LPO reserve
GANNET - From the lighthouse, sometimes large numbers
CORMORANT
SHAG - 1 juvenile on beach 15/9/07
CATTLE EGRET
LITTLE EGRET
GREAT WHITE EGRET
GREY HERON
SACRED IBIS - See text. Part of the self-sustaining population now native to this coast

 

SPOONBILL - Present in small numbers winter, spring and autumn
MUTE SWAN
GREYLAG GOOSE - Winter visitor, only one wild flock seen in flight. They were lucky to escape
CANADA GOOSE
BRENT GOOSE - Large winter population
COMMON SHELDUCK
WIGEON
GADWALL
TEAL
MALLARD
PINTAIL - Good numbers winter on LPO reserve
SHOVELER
COMMON SCOTER - Regular passage March, September, etc
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER - Frequently offshore in winter
BLACK KITE
MARSH HARRIER
HEN HARRIER
MONTAGU'S HARRIER
SPARROWHAWK
BUZZARD
KESTREL
HOBBY
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE
PHEASANT
COOT
OYSTERCATCHER
BLACK-WINGED STILT
AVOCET
RINGED PLOVER
GREY PLOVER
LAPWING
KNOT
SANDERLING
LITTLE STINT
CULEW SANDPIPER
PURPLE SANDPIPER
DUNLIN
RUFF
SNIPE
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT
BAR-TAILED GODWIT
CURLEW
WHIMBREL
SPOTTED REDSHANK
REDSHANK
GREENSHANK
GREEN SANDPIPER
COMMON SANDPIPER
TURNSTONE
ARCTIC SKUA - Regular offshore in September, etc
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - Largest count 200+ on beach, Phare des Baleines in February
BLACK-HEADED GULL
COMMON GULL
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
HERRING GULL
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Larus michahellis
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL
KITTIWAKE - Lighthouse, small numbers offshore
SANDWICH TERN
COMMON TERN
GUILLEMOT
FERAL PIGEON
WOOD PIGEON
COLLARED DOVE
SHORT-EARED OWL - LPO reserve winter
SWIFT
KINGFISHER
HOOPOE
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER
SKYLARK
SWALLOW
HOUSE MARTIN
MEADOW PIPIT
ROCK PIPIT
YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava ssp. flava
GREY WAGTAIL
WHITE WAGTAIL
WREN
DUNNOCK
ROBIN
NIGHTINGALE
BLUETHROAT ssp. namnetum- A great place to watch these breeding birds, which arrive in March and stay until the beginning of September
BLACK REDSTART
WHINCHAT
STONECHAT
WHEATEAR
BLACKBIRD
CETTI'S WARBLER
ZITTING CISTICOLA - Present throughout the year
WHITETHROAT
BLACKCAP
CHIFFCHAFF
WILLOW WARBLER
FIRECREST
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER
PIED FLYCATCHER
LONG-TAILED TIT
COAL TIT
BLUE TIT
GREAT TIT
JAY
MAGPIE
JACKDAW
CARRION CROW
STARLING
HOUSE SPARROW
CHAFFINCH
SERIN
GREENFINCH
GOLDFINCH
LINNET
CIRL BUNTING
REED BUNTING