at the chateau de Beduer
23 to 30 May 2018
Each day will include a walk around a specific habitat which will hopefully give a full introduction to the birds of this part of southern France.
Mini-buses will take the party to the walks which will be for the most part easy to negotiate and not lengthy. There is one short section of a walk which is rather steep and participants can choose either to make the walk or be transported to the top to rejoin the party for the downhill section.
One day will be dedicated to a visit to the Tarn Gorge which will require an early start and slightly later return than the other days as it is some distance from the Château.
There will also be time for relaxation, visits to local towns and sites of interest at various times during the week. These may include the large town market in the mediaeval town of Figeac and the prehistoric cave paintings at Pêch Merle
The village of Béduer is situated some 6 kilometres from Figeac in the department of Le Lot. It is dominated by the historic 13th-16th century château which was a ‘fighting’ chateau rather than a picturesque chateau with pointed towers so readily associated with the Loire.
The surrounding countryside offers a wide variety of habitats where the wildlife has largely been untouched by agriculture or industry. The Causse scenery most commonly seen on the tops of the cliffs which line the river valleys is a limestone karst environment with poor soils and a unique flora dominated by grasses and herbs. The river valleys have been subjected to agriculture, but the slopes leading up to cliffs are not tilled and are forested allowing a separate ecosystem dominated by scrub oaks and Montpelier maple.
In May, the valleys and Causse are bustling with newly arrived migrant birds including hoopoe, nightingale, alpine swift, short toed-eagle, Scops owl, golden oriole and stone curlew. Resident species in this area include blackcap, black kite, lesser spotted woodpecker, green and great woodpeckers, cirl bunting, crag martin and peregrine falcon. The open fields are host to Montagu’s, hen and marsh harriers. However there are always surprises and within the last few years, roller, bee-eater, Bonelli’s eagle and black-winged kite have been recorded in this area.
Orchids are common in fields and along roadsides. The species vary from one end of the Lot to the other dependent on soils and the presence of their host plants but they include monkey, woodcock, pyramidal, lizard and fly orchids together with helleborines.
The fauna of this area is diverse and interesting. Red squirrels are common, but are a dark, melanistic variety. Wild boar, roe deer and hare are common, but are usually more active at dusk or in the night. The chateau is host to several species of bat and during the holiday guests will be encouraged to identify the species using a ‘bat box’ which analyses the frequency of the calls as a method of identification. Butterflies and insects are still common here and in May, swallowtails (scarce and common), clouded yellows, various species of blue butterflies and southern white admiral are common.
The holiday is based around day trips that will visit the main habitats of the Lot, from open fields to river banks. In addition there will be a long excursion to the Tarn Gorge to see the vultures, choughs and the moorland related birds of the Causse Méjean. Amongst these, rock thrush, rock sparrow and black-eared wheatear are notable residents.
David Jutson has been observing birds as a hobby for over fifty years. By profession, he’s a geologist and in the course of his working life has lived in Germany, Denmark, The United States, South Africa and France.
During his work he’s travelled extensively in West Africa, the circum-Mediterranean area including Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Israel and Libya, the North Sea, Greenland and Brazil. This has given him the opportunity to indulge his hobby extensively, as geology and ornithology work well together!
He describes his approach to bird watching as exactly that, in the sense of observing all aspects of bird behaviour and distribution.
As a geologist, (in fact, a palaeontologist) he also has an active interest in fossil birds and the evolution of flight.
He and his wife, Jo, have lived in Le Lot for ten years.
Jackie will be in charge of the catering and accommodation at the chateau and will be providing guests with breakfast, lunch (packed where appropriate) and the evening meal in the comfortable surrounds of the chateau.
For further information and booking, please contact Jackie Ledoux at:
Price: €1600 per person
Single room supplement (two only): €150
En suite facilities
Flights: EasyJet, BA, AirFrance to Toulouse Blagnac (TLS)
Maximum number: 12