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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 5, 2012

Birding The Pyrenees

On my recent trip to the Pyrenees with Greentours  I had the good fortune that one of the leaders was Phil Benstead,  a very knowledgeable and excellent field birder.  He helped me to add 28 new birds to my personal life list as well as get good looks at a number of birds I had seen of previous European trips. He led a number of early morning bird walks as well as looked for birds, along with flowers, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects throughout the day.

Personal highlights included seeing the large Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier, Golden Oriole, Black and Red Kites, Alpine Chough, and Egyptian Vulture. Unfortunately, when the group had its best view of a Lammergeier we were eating lunch and not one person in the group had a camera ready.

To see Phil’s complete list of all birds from the trip. Click Read more.

You can also see the list of the 28 new birds I added to my list  my clicking read more.  (It is below Phil’s list)  Below are a few photos licensed for reuse from the internet and one from me.

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Birds of the Pyrenees from Greentours trip June 11 to 24, 2012

by Phil Benstead

Grey heron Ardea cinerea One at the first day lunch stop. A few thereafter along the larger rivers.
Little egret Egretta garzetta One over the motorway near Toulouse on the last morning.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchus At the first day lunch stop, and a few thereafter on the larger rivers.
Black kite Milvus migrans Single on first day in the French lowlands. Frequently encountered in Spain in the lower areas visited. A feature of the scavenging fauna attracted to Tremp rubbish dump.
Red kite Milvus milvus A few in Spain, especially near Tremp. Perhaps more common on the French side of the Pyrenees, seen daily in the last four days of the tour.
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus Single bird seen incredibly well at lunch on the drive up to Canigou. A possible pair on our first day in Spain below the Col de Canto. One along the ridge above Espot and another the next day below Col de Perves. Amazingly one seen perched highon a cliff face in the Ossoue valley on the penultimate day of the tour. A great run of records.
Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus Odd birds seen almost daily in Spain, large numbers at Tremp rubbish dump.
Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus Frequently encountered in Spain and France.
Short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus Odd singles seen well, including a calling bird below the Col de Canto. A bird displaying above the Col de Tentes.
Buzzard Buteo buteo Frequently noted whilst driving along the French motorway on the first and last day. Odd birds elsewhere.
Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos One displaying high above the Aigues-Tortes NP.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Widespread.
Hobby Falco subbuteo One near Salas.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus One above La Guingeta.
[Red-legged partridge] Alectoris rufa Single flank feather at the Gorge de Segre.
Quail Coturnix coturnix Eaten on the first night. Heard in the arable farmland areas around Santa Engracia and the Col de Perves.
[Moorhen] Gallinula chloropus Heard daily in the reedbed near the hotel in La Guingeta.
Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus One at La Guingeta, a southward bound failed breeder no doubt.
Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius One over the motorway near Toulouse on the last morning.
Yellow-legged gull Larus cachinnans Noted whilst driving along the French motorway en route to Spain on the first and last day.
Rock dove/feral pigeon Columba livia Ubiquitous in urban areas.
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus Found in small numbers throughout.
Turtle dove Streptopelia turtur Single between Toulouse and the foothills on the first day.
Collared dove Streptopelia decaocto Found in small numbers throughout.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Heard frequently, only a few seen.
Scops owl Otus scops Phil had a cracking encounter on the first night at La Guingeta.
Swift Apus apus Common throughout in lowland areas.
[Black woodpecker] Dryocopus martius Signs of presence in the Aigues-Tortes NP and Cirque de Gavarnie.
[Green woodpecker] Picus viridis Heard occasionally.
Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopus major Common in woodland throughout.
[Middle spotted woodpecker] Dendrocopos medius Heard at La Guingeta.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla Single noisy bird seen well at a roadside ice cream stop during the Col de Perves circuit day.
[Woodlark] Lullula arborea Singing at the Col de Perves.
Crag martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris Seen every day in suitable areas close to cliffs and suitable crags.
Swallow Hirundo rustica Common throughout low-lying areas.
House martin Delichon urbica Found throughout often near suitable nesting cliffs and crags. Nice to see them nesting in their proper habitat for a change.
Tawny pipit Anthus campestris Single at the Col de Perves.
Water pipit Anthus spinoletta Recorded at Port de la Bonaigua, Neouvielle and in the Gavernie area.
Tree pipit Anthus trivialis Singing birds noted occsaionally.
White wagtail Motacilla alba Widespread. Commonly seen whilst in transit in low-lying areas.
Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea Occasional along mountain streams and rivers throughout.
Dipper Cinclus cinclus One on the first day and a pair at Espot. A pair at Congost de Collegat. More along the stream at Tor and several pairs in the centre of Arreau.
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Found at a low density in wooded habitat throughout.
Dunnock Prunella modularis Found at a low density in wooded habitat especially at high altitude eg Aigues Tortes.
Alpine accentor Prunella collaris Several at the Col de Tentes and Ossoue valley on the penultimate day.
Robin Erithacus rubecula Commonly heard but hard to see. Present also in the wooded areas at higher altitude.
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Almost ubiquitous at lower altitudes. One seen very well at Tremp.
Redstart Phoenicrurus phoenicrurus Family at the lunchstop on the first day.
Black redstart Phoenicrurus ochrurus Common throughout, especially around the hotels.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Two at the Col d’Aspin.
Stonechat Saxicola torquata Occasionally noted in suitable upland habitat.
Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Common at high altitude – recorded on five dates.
[Ring ouzel] Turdus torquatus Sadly a dead bird beneath powerlines at Port de la Bonaigua was the only record.
Blackbird Turdus merula Present throughout in suitable habitat.
Song thrush Turdus philomelos Noted at Val d’Eyne.
Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus Present throughout in suitable habitat.
Cetti’s warbler Cettia cetti A few at La Guingeta.
Subalpine warbler Sylvia cantillans A few singing at the first stop on the Canigou road. Also heard around La Guingeta on morning walks.
[Common whitethroat] Sylvia communis Heard only at the Col de Perves.
[Garden warbler] Sylvia borin Heard occasionally.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Common breeding bird throughout in suitable habitat.
Dartford warbler Sylvia undata A singing male at the Col de Perves.
Western Bonelli’s warbler Phylloscopus bonelli A few singing at Val d’Eyne and Canigou. Common breeding bird in Spain, especially around Alins and Santa Engracia. Heard in the Gavarnie area.
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita Recorded only in high-altitude forest on five dates.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus Small numbers recorded on six dates.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus Scattered records throughout – recorded on six dates. Only seen at La Guingeta.
Crested tit Parus cristatus Fairly common on the walk up the Val d’Eyne. Pair seen briefly as we walked down the hill in the Aigues-Tortes and more at Gavarnie.
Blue tit Parus caeruleus Recorded throughout in suitable habitat.
Great tit Parus major Recorded throughout in suitable habitat.
Coal tit Parus ater Recorded on four dates in high altitude forest.
Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus First noted in the Val d’Eyne. Recorded on two dates in Spain.
Woodchat shrike Lanius senator Just one near Santa Engracia.
Starling Sturnus vulgaris Noted whilst driving in France.
[Spotless starling] Sturnus unicolor Birds in the Santa Engracia area may have been this species.
Jay Garrulus glandarius Recorded daily.
Magpie Pica pica Recorded daily. Most often seen in transit in the valley bottoms.
Alpine chough Pyrrhocorax graculus Recorded at Gavarnie and Aigues-Tortes only.
Red-billed chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Seen wherever suitable breeding cliffs could be found eg above Tor, Perbes Valley, Congost des Collegats, Aigues-Tortes, the Vielha Tunnel and Gavernie.
Raven Corvus corax Small numbers throughout.
Carrion crow Corvus corone Common in suitable habitat.
House sparrow Passer domesticus Pleasantly ubiquitous.
[Rock sparrow] Petronia petronia Probably heard at Valcebollere. Definitely heard at Tremp.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Common in wooded areas throughout.
Citril finch Serinus citrinella Recorded only at Aigues-Tortes and Gavarnie this time.
Serin Serinus serinus Very common breeding bird throughout.
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Toulouse.
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula Heard at Val d’Eyne. Recorded on two other dates.
Linnet Carduelis cannabina Small numbers noted at high altitude.
Corn bunting Milaria calandra Common farmland bird in Spain.
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella Seemingly scarce these days, recorded on two or three dates.
Cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus Observed around La Guingeta and heard in similar habitat elsewhere.
Rock bunting Emberiza cia One sitting in the middle of the road, stunned, on the last drive over Port de la Bonaigua. Another in the Ossoue valley.


 

Additions to Sandy’s Personal Birding Life List

1 Citril Finch Cirque de Gavarnie FR-N 23 Jun 2012
2 Alpine Accentor French Pyrenees–Vallee d’Ossoue FR-N 22 Jun 2012
3 Yellowhammer French Pyrenees–Vallee d’Ossoue FR-N 22 Jun 2012
4 White-winged Snowfinch Arreau FR-N 21 Jun 2012
5 Garden Warbler Collegats, Salas and Tremp ES-CT 18 Jun 2012
6 Rock Petronia Collegats, Salas and Tremp ES-CT 18 Jun 2012
7 Water Pipit Port de la Bonaigua and Vielha ES-CT 17 Jun 2012
8 Eurasian Golden Oriole La Guingueta d¿Aneu ES-CT 17 Jun 2012
9 Eurasian Treecreeper La Guingueta d¿Aneu ES-CT 17 Jun 2012
10 Common Quail Tremp ES-CT 16 Jun 2012
11 Red Kite Tremp ES-CT 16 Jun 2012
12 Eurasian Wryneck Tremp ES-CT 16 Jun 2012
13 Dartford Warbler Tremp ES-CT 16 Jun 2012
14 Tawny Pipit Tremp ES-CT 16 Jun 2012
15 Dunnock Aigues-Tortes NP ES-CT 15 Jun 2012
16 Carrion Crow La Guingueta d¿Aneu ES-CT 15 Jun 2012
17 Long-tailed Tit La Guingueta d¿Aneu ES-CT 15 Jun 2012
18 Black Kite Andorra AD-03 14 Jun 2012
19 Lammergeier Canigou FR-K 13 Jun 2012
20 Firecrest Canigou FR-K 13 Jun 2012
21 Mistle Thrush Canigou FR-K 13 Jun 2012
22 Great Spotted Woodpecker Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
23 Green Woodpecker Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
24 Coal Tit Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
25 Crested Tit Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
26 Goldcrest Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
27 Western Bonelli’s Warbler Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
28 Tree Pipit Val d’eyne FR-K 12 Jun 2012
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