Crossbill Guides: Dordogne â&#x20AC;&#x201C; France First print: 2018
Initiative, text and research: David Simpson, Frank Jouandoudet Editing: Dirk Hilbers Additional editing: John Cantelo, Brian Clews, Kim Lotterman, Albert Vliegenthart Illustrations: Horst Wolter Maps: Constant Swinkels, Dirk Hilbers Type and image setting: Oscar Lourens Print: Drukkerij Tienkamp, Groningen ISBN 978 94 91648 13 7 ÂŠ 2018 Crossbill Guides Foundation, Arnhem, The Netherlands This book is produced with best practice methods ensuring lowest possible environmental impact, using waterless offset, vegetable based inks and FSC-certified paper.
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CROSSBILL GUIDES FOUNDATION This guidebook is a product of the non-profit foundation Crossbill Guides. By publishing these books we want to introduce more people to the joys of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beautiful natural heritage and to increase the understanding of the ecological values that underlie conservation efforts. Most of this heritage is protected for ecological reasons and we want to provide insight into these reasons to the public at large. By doing so we hope that more people support the ideas behind nature conservation. For more information about us and our guides you can visit our website at: WWW.CROSSBILLGUIDES.ORG
highlights of dordogne
Highlights of Dordogne
Explore the River Dordogne and all its tributaries. From the honey-coloured cliffs and castles to the gravel banks and riverine woods, the river network is the lifeline of the region, and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Make a ramble over the dry grasslands or pelouses seches on the causse plateaux, with their immense diversity of butterflies and wildflowers.
Head out to the Plateau de Faux or the Plaine de Verteillac, where extensive fields and grasslands are home to rare birds of open country, like Black-winged Kite, Stone Curlew and Rock Sparrow.
Start your hunt for orchids. Dordogne has no less than 50 species, many of which can be found with relative ease in the forests, marshlands, roadsides, hay meadows and causse grasslands.
highlights of dordogne
Likewise for butterflies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; for a lowland region, Dordogne has an incredible variety of blues and fritillaries, beauties like purple emperors and swallowtails are common and rarities like Woodland Brown, False Ringlet and Great Sooty Satyr can be tracked down with a little dedication. June and July are the best months, which coincides with the flight of numerous rare dragonflies as well.
Go out at dusk on a balmy summerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s night and watch how daytime animals trade places with the creatures of the night. Was that a Pine Marten that just crossed the road?
Immerse yourself in gastronomic Dordogne in April, when thousands of wild tulips flower amongst the vineyards in the south-west.
Go out in autumn, when most tourists have gone, forest colours are glorious, flocks of Common Cranes migrate overhead and the most beautiful castles and cliffs are visited by wintering Wallcreepers and Alpine Accentors from the high mountains.
about this guide
About this guide
6 boat trip or ferry crossing car route
beautiful scenery interesting history interesting geology
This guide is meant for all those who enjoy being in and learning about nature, whether you already know all about it or not. It is set up a little differently from most guides. We focus on explaining the natural and ecological features of an area rather than merely describing the site. We choose this approach because the nature of an area is more interesting, enjoyable and valuable when seen in the context of its complex relationships. The interplay of different species with each other and with their environment is simply mind-blowing. The clever tricks and gimmicks that are put to use to beat life’s challenges are as fascinating as they are countless. Take our namesake the Crossbill: at first glance it’s just a big finch with an awkward bill. But there is more to the Crossbill than meets the eye. This bill is beautifully adapted for life in coniferous forests. It is used like a scissor to cut open pinecones and eat the seeds that are unobtainable for other birds. In the Scandinavian countries where pine and spruce take up the greater part of the forests, several Crossbill species have each managed to answer two of life’s most pressing questions: how to get food and how to avoid direct competition. By evolving crossed bills, each differing subtly, they have secured a monopoly of the seeds produced by cones of varying sizes. So complex is this relationship that scientists are still debating exactly how many different species of Crossbill actually exist. Now this should heighten the appreciation of what at first glance was merely a plumb red bird with a beak that doesn’t seem to fit properly. Once its interrelationships are seen, nature comes alive, wherever you are. To some, impressed by the “virtual” familiarity that television has granted to the wilderness of the Amazon, the vastness of the Serengeti or the sublimity of Yellowstone, European nature may seem a puny surrogate, good merely for the casual stroll. In short, the argument seems to be that if you haven’t seen some impressive predator, be it a Jaguar, Lion or Grizzly Bear, then you haven’t seen the “real thing”. Nonsense, of course. But where to go? And how? What is there to see? That is where this guide comes in. We describe the how, the why, the when, the where and the how come of Europe’s most beautiful areas. In clear and accessible language, we explain the nature of Dordogne and refer extensively to routes where the area’s features can be observed best. We try to make Dordogne come alive. We hope that we succeed.
how to use this guide
How to use this guide This guidebook contains a descriptive and a practical section. The descriptive part comes first and gives you insight into the most striking and interesting natural features of the area. It provides an understanding of what you will see when you go out exploring. The descriptive part consists of a landscape section (marked with a red bar), describing the habitats, the history and the landscape in general, and of a flora and fauna section (marked with a green bar), which discusses the plants and animals that occur in the region. The second part offers the practical information (marked with a purple bar). A series of routes (walks) is carefully selected to give you a good flavour of all the habitats, flora and fauna that Dordogne has to offer. At the start of each route description, a number of icons give a quick overview of the characteristics of each route. These icons are explained in the margin of this page. The final part of the book (marked with blue squares) provides some basic tourist information and some tips on finding plants, birds and other animals. There is no need to read the book from cover to cover. Instead, each small chapter stands on its own and refers to the routes most suitable for viewing the particular features described in it. Conversely, descriptions of each route refer to the chapters that explain more in depth the most typical features that can be seen along the way. In the back of the book we have included a list of all the mentioned plant and animal species, with their scientific names and translations into German and Dutch. Some species names have an asterix (*) following them. This indicates that there is no official English name for this species and that we have taken the liberty of coining one. For the sake of readability we have decided to translate the scientific name, or, when this made no sense, we gave a name that best describes the species’ appearance or distribution. Please note that we do not want to claim these as the official names. We merely want to make the text easier to follow for those not familiar with scientific names. When a new vernacular name was invented, we’ve also added the scientific name. An overview of the area described in this book is given on the map on page 12. For your convenience we have also turned the inner side of the back flap into a map of the area indicating all the described routes. Descriptions in the explanatory text refer to these routes.
7 interesting flora interesting invertebrate life interesting reptile and amphibian life interesting mammals interesting birdlife site for snorkelling interesting for whales and dolphins visualising the ecological contexts described in this guide
table of contents
Table of contents Landscape 11 Geographical overview 12 Geology 14 Habitats 18 Forest and woodlands 20 Rivers and wetlands 29 Limestone grasslands: ‘the causses’ 36 Heathland and Moorland 40 Farmland 4 1 Cliffs and caves 46 Towns, villages, gardens and ancient buildings 47 History 49 Nature conservation 62 Flora and Fauna 67 Flora 70 Mammals 86 Birds 89 Reptiles and amphibians 101 Fish 106 Insects and other invertebrates 109 Practical Part 123 Route 1: River Dordogne from Mauzac to Mouleydier 124 Route 2: Cingle de Trémolat 129 Route 3: Plateau de Faux – Issigeac 135 Route 4: Plateau de Faux – Naussannes 141 Route 5: Forêt de la Bessède 144 Route 6: River Dordogne from Beynac to Groléjac 150 Route 7: Causse de Daglan 155 Route 8: Vézère valley from Limeuil to Les Eyzies 158 Route 9: Beune valley 163 Route 10: Causse de Terrasson 167 Route 11: Tulips and Vineyards 1 7 1 Route 12: Libourne Marshes 174 Route 13: Forêt du Landais 177 Route 14: Forêt de la Double 181 Route 15: Dronne valley 184 Route 16: Causse de Paussac 187
table of contents
Route 17: Plaine de Verteillac Route 18: Tourbières de Vendoire Route 19: Plateau d’Argentine Route 20: Forêt de Lanmary Route 21: Auvézère Valley Additional sites Tourist information and observation tips Acknowledgements Picture and illustration credits Species list and translation
190 193 196 199 202 205 215 236 237 238
List of Text boxes Truff les and truff le orchards 39 Occitan culture 49 Hunting 56 The decline of the herds 57 Buildings in the countryside 58 Fishing 60 The endemic Aquitaine Pike* (Esox aquitanicus) 68 The Wolf – making a comeback? 88 Little Bustard and Ortolan Bunting, history and extinction 91 Black-winged Kite – a recent arrival 92 Crane migration 98 Ocellated Lizard – phantom of the causses 105 European Sturgeon: the river giant 108 Woodland Brown 112 The five Dordogne dragonf lies protected under European law 1 16 Unusual Insects: Owlflies, ant-lions, mantids and stick-insects 1 18 Freshwater Pearl Mussel 1 2 1
The landscapes of Dordogne, also known as Périgord, make up some of the classic views of rural France, much loved by artists, writers and visitors alike. The famous American writer Henry Miller described the view from the cliff-top or ‘barre’ at Domme as being “the nearest thing to paradise on earth” and others have said similar of views in Dordogne. As such and with prehistoric sites, beautiful chateaux, fine gastronomy and good weather it is perhaps not surprising that it is such a popular tourist destination. Landscape is an important element in attracting tourists to the region and making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in France. For many British visitors, there is a familiarity about the landscape but with an air of exoticism stemming from its southern location around the 45th parallel. This also makes it of great interest to the visiting naturalist. If you look on wildlife distribution maps, Dordogne is at or towards the edge of the range for quite a number of species. In fact, Dordogne lies at a crossroads of climatic and geographical influences (Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental) laying the basis for a rich diversity of landscapes, habitats and species (see page 18). Factor in such local elements as varied soil, relief, hydrology and land management, which creates further diversity of habitat, and it becomes a very attractive destination for naturalists. A recent study by the Conseil Général de la Dordogne (equivalent to a UK County Council) has divided Dordogne into 32 natural landscape areas based on environmental information and these have been further distilled into ten regions. As you travel about you will find that the tourism department has simplified things still further: Périgord Noir for the dark dense Holm Oak forests (or perhaps the famous Black Truffle Tuber melanosporum) of the south-east, Périgord Pourpre for the Bergerac vineyard region of the south-west, Périgord Blanc for the limestone plateaux of central Dordogne surrounding the capital Périgueux and finally Périgord Vert for the forested region around Nontron in the north.
In summer watercrowfoot beds festoon the River Dordogne at Lalinde.
G EOGRAPHICAL OVERVIEW
Overview of Dordogne with the location of the numbered routes that feature from page 124 onwards.
Dordogne lies in the heart of south-west France. The terrain is generally hilly and cut through by the main valleys which run westward towards the sea. Much of the area lies between 150 and 250 metres, dropping down to below 10 metres in the south-west along the Dordogne valley and rising up to nearly 500 metres in the extreme north-east towards Limousin. Eastward lies the Massif Central, a land of ancient eroded volcanoes and the source of the River Dordogne. To the south the Aquitaine Basin spreads out for over 200 kilometres across largely rolling agricultural land towards the foothills of the Pyrenees, the source of the Garonne river which flows north to join the Dordogne near Bordeaux. To the north-west are the cereal growing plains of the Poitou-Charentes region. Our region covers nearly 150 kms of the central section of the Dordogne valley from west to east, starting around Libourne and ending near Souillac. In addition this guide covers a further 120 kms north to south including the larger tributary rivers on the northern side of the Parc Naturel Regional Perigord-Limousin
11 12 bordeaux
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
G EOGRAPHICAL OVERVIEW
Dordogne river catchment: the Dronne, the Isle and the Vézère. These rise to the north-east of our area on the aptly-named Plateau de Millevaches (plateau of a thousand cows) in Limousin. Although there are indeed plenty of cows there, the ‘vaches’ may not refer to cows at all. Instead it may be derived from an ancient word for either springs or for emptiness – both meanings are also very appropriate. Although almost all the sites presented here lie in the Dordogne department, there is an overlap with the Gironde department to the south-west around Libourne, Sainte Foy la Grande and Castillon la Bataille. The total length of the Dordogne river is 483 km. Thirty km north-west of Libourne and around twenty km downstream of Bordeaux, the River Dordogne meets the River Garonne and the two great rivers flow out northwards to the sea as the Gironde Estuary. The last 75 km as far as Castillon la Bataille is under the influence of the ocean’s tides, with a tidal bore ‘le mascaret’ on high spring tides. Upstream of this guide’s eastern limit near Souillac the Dordogne river flows for over 200 km from its source at the Puy de Sancy (1885m) through the mountains before reaching the lowland landscape of Quercy and Périgord. The rivers in the extreme north of Dordogne (the Bandiat and Tardoire) drain north-west into the Charente river, whilst in the extreme south, the Dropt river drains south-westward into the Lot and then the Garonne rivers. Dordogne’s population is low. There are less than half a million people who are scattered fairly evenly across the department. Over half of this population is rural, living in settlements of less than 2,000. Centrally located Périgueux (the departmental capital) and Bergerac in the southwest (famous for wine and Cyrano) are the principle towns. They are modestly sized with populations of only around 30,000. However ‘Greater Périgueux’, which includes its adjoining towns and villages has a population of around 60,000.
The 483 kms long Dordogne River is the beautiful and wildliferich backbone of the region.
FOREST AND WOODLANDS
Grolèjac. In the winter flocks of Siskin favour the damp Common Alder woods searching for seeds in the small cones. The arboreal (and nocturnal) Genet frequents these wet woodlands. The willows and poplars are important food-plants for many caterpillars of moth and butterfly species. One of the most dramatic of the commoner species is the Lesser Purple Emperor which flies during mid and late summer.
The Beech is a northern tree of cool and moist regions and reaches its southernmost limit as a lowland tree in Dordogne. Further south in the Pyrenees it is exclusively a tree of the mountains. In Dordogne, there are only a small number of Beech woodlands mostly in the north such as the upper Auvézère and near Paussac. Beech forest in Dordogne is a relict of colder periods of climate. In fact, place names suggest that the species was more common in medieval times but with heavy exploitation for timber and more recent climatic warming, the species has declined greatly. These woods create a dense canopy and the copious amounts of leaves which are shed each autumn contain an acid that reduces undergrowth. However in limestone areas, the soil is buffered and before the Beech leaves open, orchids such as Birds-nest and Early Purple appear and other flowers including Woodruff, Wood Speedwell and Bluebell (in the northeast) can be found. Holly often grows amongst Beech trees, a relatively scarce plant in Dordogne. Beech forest is especially attractive to the Black Woodpecker.
Two forest birds you’re likely to encounter in Dordogne: the Common Redstart (left) and the Jay (right).
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
RIVERS AND WETLANDS
Rivers and wetlands
Riverine wetlands are prominent on routes 1, 6, 12 and 15 and sites D and G on page 206-207, but, like the riverine woodland, is better explored from the river by canoe. Smaller streams have a prominent place on routes 1, 9, 16, 21 and sites V and W on page 213. Fens, bogs and other marshes do so on routes 6, 9, 12, 18 and sites I and L on page 208 and 210. Wildlife-rich lakes and ponds feature on routes 14 and 18 and site A, J, K, N, Q and R on pages 205-211.
Despite having large areas of dry karst plateaux, wetlands remain important habitats in Dordogne. No less than eight wetlands are Natura 2000 sites (areas of European importance for wildlife) notified out of a total of 21 Natura 2000 designations in Dordogne. Wetlands in the region range from areas with springs, streams and marshes to the great River Dordogne itself with its dramatic meanders.
Rivers, ox-bows, backwaters and islands
Perhaps the most important wetland habitats of the area are the rivers themselves. The whole of the Dordogne river (483 km) as well as its catchment (24000 sq. kms) is classed as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO to protect the biodiversity and promote sustainability and research. The Dordogne, Vézère, Isle, Dronne and Nizonne rivers are all Natura 2000 sites. Several protected species are found along the river including Estuary Angelica in the tidal section of the Dordogne and Isle rivers, a species endemic to western France. The picturesque River Dordogne, together with its tributaries, is the hallmark of the entire region. The golden cliffs, scattered islands and backwaters, the ribbons of white-flowered watercrowfoot gently swirling in the current and the blue flash of a Kingfisher – they all combine to create a magical setting. It’s best discovered from a boat whiling away a warm summers day or even better, a trip in the early morning or in the evening when wildlife is more active. Ecologically, the clean waters and undisturbed patches of riparian habitat such as islands, woodlands, marshes and wet
Dordogne’s river shores are in places steep and and lined with cliffs. Elswehere they are flat with marshlands. Both have their attractions for wildlife.
RIVERS AND WETLANDS
Kingfisher (top) is king of the river, not because of its size but its speed and exotic plumage. The middle reaches of the River Dordogne, near La RoqueGageac, is a land of meanders (bottom).
meadows are the places to find the wildlife of Dordogne’s rivers. Fish abound as result of the rich invertebrate fauna and these, in turn, attract birds and mammals. The rivers in the area are home to around 40 species of fish. Eight of them are migratory species such as Salmon, two species of shad and lamprey and even the rare European Sturgeon (see page 108), which profit from the well-aerated gravel beds and quiet backwaters to spawn. Usually, fishes form a part of the biodiversity that is hard for naturalists to discover. In Dordogne however, you have some great opportunities to get close views. The clear water and shallow rivers make it possible to see many of them in the wild (see routes 1 and 8). The clean rivers are of course attractive to more than just fish species. Huge mayfly emergences occur in summer for brief courtship flights, which can leave bridges such as that at Bergerac covered in a deep confetti of their remains the following morning. The rivers are renowned for their large diversity of dragonflies, which includes rare species such as the Pronged Clubtail (endemic to south-west Europe), Orangespotted Emerald and there have been several records of the very rare Splendid Chaser. The River Dronne has one the strongest populations of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in France. A European-funded Life Project has recently been inaugurated to ensure the conservation of this species (see box on page 121). The riches in fish and invertebrates are at least in part the result of the freely meandering rivers which create through their flow diverse habitat mosaics of deeper and shallower water, muddy or clear water, sunny or
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
RIVERS AND WETLANDS
shaded spots, cool or warm sites and gravelly, sandy or muddy substrates. Each have their own set of species. In particular, the calm weedy backwaters are important to the ecosystem as they are a refuge for fish and dragonflies. The river is also a good habitat for birds. Ospreys pass through on migration and are regularly seen hunting along the main rivers, whilst in summer Black Kites scavenge along the banks. White Storks have recently colonised the Isle Valley near PĂŠrigueux and there is an established colony near Libourne. River bridges are nesting sites for Crag, Sand and House Martins, which in the autumn hunt over the water-crowfoot beds by their thousands in turn attracting Hobbys. With the call of the Hoopoe or Green Woodpecker in the poplars on the river bank, the gentle purring of the Turtle Dove merging with the calm murmuring of the water, the rivers are about as paradisiacal as you can get. The islands along the main rivers are of major importance as nesting sites for Grey Herons, egrets and Little Ringed Plovers, as they are generally free from predators. Once Little Bittern nested on islands along the Dordogne and Isle rivers but it seems that vegetation changes and disturbance by Coypu and human activities have made them unattractive and the birds have gone. Some islands are large and wooded with gravel beaches, others no more than temporary gravel bars, but all are constantly changing. Erosion and deposition are constant re-working them so that their shape changes from year to year. Like any island, they are fascinating worlds of their own and provide diverse opportunities for plant and invertebrate colonisation. The Dordogne is not a truly natural river. There are a series of dams in the uplands and three locally in the lowlands. Much work has been undertaken to ensure migratory fish can negotiate these three dams in this
Otters are rarely seen, but they do leave their marks in the form of scats and tracks.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The Dordogne is especially interesting for the diversity of its flora and fauna. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, the long period of human settlement has, until recent times, created most harmonious conditions for wildlife. The varied small scale and low-intensity agricultural activities created a rich mosaic of habitats of great benefit to a wide range of species. Some striking, attractive examples of this are the Little Bustard and Stone Curlew in open areas, Ortolan Bunting along the hedges and orchids in the meadows and forests. Even the man-made stone structures provide refuge for birds and bats as well as a wide variety of flora and invertebrates. Although we do tend to look at the past through rosetinted glasses (and there were indeed losses in natural diversity in the past), it’s true that the old happy equilibrium between man and nature resulted in a truly spectacular rural-natural hybrid in which flora and fauna thrived. Secondly, the area is relatively un-populated and un-polluted and thereby has served as a refuge for species which have lost suitable habitat elsewhere such as the European Sturgeon, European Mink and two freshwater mussels. Finally, Dordogne is situated at the meeting point of three eco-regions: Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean. The Atlantic region is indicated by the presence of Pedunculate Oak, Maritime Pine and heathland. Kerry Lily and Heath Lobelia are truly Atlantic wildflowers that grow in lowland heathland habitat. Elsewhere the limestone geology is attractive to Mediterranean species. On the warm stony slopes Yellow Bee Orchid flowers with a multitude of other orchids and wildflowers amongst the fine grasses, scrub and Downy Oak trees. The nocturnal Genet leaves its trace by way of unusual horseshoe-shaped scats at prominent places, Ocellated Lizards and Southern Smooth Snakes bask in sheltered spots
FLORA AND FAUNA
Hoopoe – the ‘cock-ofthe-rock’ of Dordogne villages. They can be surprisingly discreet when feeding on grassland but when disturbed the pied wings soon give them away.
and you may be really lucky and find a Subalpine Warbler amongst the junipers. Finally, in the foothills of the Massif Central are a more Continental or montane association of species including such plants as Bilberry and Martagon Lily underfoot. You may hear the soft piping of a Bullfinch from the bushes and shady Pedunculate Oak and Beech woods, the latter especially popular with the Black Woodpecker. It is interesting to see that these biological ‘realms’ intermingle in certain parts of Dordogne. You can find Mediterranean causse species growing close by Atlantic forest ones, for example at Lanmary Forest (route 20). Whereas in the Vézère valley at Campagne (route 8) you’ll see the contrast between woodlands of temperate Continental Hornbeam and the warm sub-Mediterranean Downy Oak. Elsewhere Atlantic heathland can lie alongside a Pyrenean Oakwood or a Continental Beechwood may not be far from a Mediterranean Holm Oak wood. What starts out as a pleasant stroll with attractive wildlife, becomes a fascinating journey from one biological world to another – that’s the excitement of Dordogne.
The endemic Aquitaine Pike* ( Esox aquitanicus) The sole endemic animal species in Aquitaine is a type of pike and was only recognised and described in 2014. This fish has been isolated in the south-west of France since the last ice age. The common ancestor of the three European pikes may have been driven south-westwards into the warmer Atlantic fringe during the last glaciation, creating an isolated population which subsequently has colonised the south-west of France. Its colour and head shape distinguish it from the other European species. Its colouring is marbled and its pointed head is significantly shorter. It is found in the Dordogne, Charente, Garonne, Leyre and Adour catchments. The problem is that Northern Pike were introduced to these rivers before people realised that there was an endemic species present. As usual the endemic species suffers from competition with the introduced one and the two can produce hybrids that threaten the ‘pure’ form of the Aquitaine Pike, both of which factors may eventually lead to the loss of this species. What a pity if the Aquitaine Pike should disappear so soon after having been discovered! Fortunately, fishing organisations have launched an information campaign to prevent further introduction of the Northern Pike. Of course it is still too early to judge the success of these actions. Keep an eye out for pike in rivers while wildlife-watching, diving or fishing in Dordogne. The two species are present in the same habitats – both lakes and rivers.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
Main biogeographical regions in Dordogne
Mediterranean region e.g. Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)
Continental region e.g. Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)
Atlantic region e.g. Heath Lobelia (Lobelia urens)
FLORA AND FAUNA
Dordogne lies at the crossroads of the Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean ecoregions. The light coloured areas in the map are transitions between these ecoregions.
Various species of spider orchids occur in Dordogne and they are not always easy to tell apart. This is the Early Spider Orchid.
Orchids are one of the most attractive features of Dordogne’s wildlife and number nearly 50 species. Most of these can be found between March and July. Orchids grow in every kind of habitat, but mainly on calcareous soils. You’ll find them often just on the side of the road or along footpaths. The meadows harbour the most common species like Green-winged and Pyramidal Orchids. The big Lizard Orchid can even be found around houses. In September, the Autumn Lady’s-tresses grows on short grassy swards including urban meadows in Périgueux. The prime orchid habitat is dry, stony, limestone grassland, as is found on the causse. This should be the first destination for orchid aficionados. In spring (late March - May) you’ll be treated to a fine range of species of the bee orchid (Ophrys) group: Yellow Bee, Small Spider, Fly, Woodcock, Early Spider, Grooved Sombre Bee, Bee and the Western Spider, which is the earliest flowering of all – already opening its flowers in the middle of March. Recently, another species can be added to this list of Ophrys species. The Mirror Orchid was first discovered in Dordogne at the beginning of this century and since then every year, two or three plants are found, principally in the south. The Ophrys share their habitat with the taller and more robust, thus eyecatching Orchis species: Lady, Military and Monkey Orchids are similar and closely related, with the former by far the most common. To add to the confusion there are quite often hybrids between these three and the relatively common Man Orchid. Pyramidal is one of the commonest orchids whose local name is ‘Pentecôte’ (like several other flowers) due to its flowering season in late May. Lizard, Fragrant, Longlipped Tongue, Butterfly, Lesser Butterfly, Early Purple, Common Spotted and Burnt Orchids are other species you can find in open forest and grassland on calcareous ground. Moving from the grasslands and open woodlands to the shady forests (still on limestone) you enter the realm of Violet Limodore, Red, Narrow-leaved and Broad-leaved Helleborines plus Twayblade. Less numerous but also widespread is the parasitic Bird’s-nest Orchid. White, Mueller’s and Small-leaved Helleborines are more difficult to find. The wet calcareous meadows and fens are another very interesting habitat for orchids. This habitat is more rare
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
and localised, but hosts such rare species as Meadow Orchid* (Anacamptis palustris), Marsh Helleborine, Short-spurred Fragrant and Robust Marsh Orchids. Most sites for these species are in the south-east of the region, while these habitats are also the haunts of the commoner Loose-flowered and Early Marsh Orchids in Dordogne. Heath Spotted Orchid is one of the very few orchids to grow on more acid ground, especially the subspecies ericetorum, which is found in the Double and Bessède Forests. All the above (except Mirror Orchid) are either common and widespread or occur in good numbers locally in suitable habitat. There are a number of species though, that are quite rare. Summer Lady’s-tresses for example, is found at less than five sites today, as is the Frog Orchid, which is well-camouflaged and therefore difficult to find! Other rarities are Fragrant Bug Orchid, which has probably just one site in a well-protected place near Bergerac. Considered as extinct in Dordogne since 1989, Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid was rediscovered in Isle valley 2006. This site isn’t protected and so its future is uncertain. On an orchid hunt you never quite know what will turn up!
Limestone or causse grasslands
Dordogne has a largely limestone geology with wild limestone grasslands, a typical habitat and one that is very rich in wildflowers. The hills around Faux, Verteillac, Paussac, Daglan, Condat and Argentine are just a few examples. In spring these warm dry places are colourful and you can find many sub-Mediterranean species set amidst
FLORA AND FAUNA
Just a few of the many orchids of Dordogne: Monkey Orchid (top), Long-lipped Tongue Orchid (centre) and Lesser Butterfly Orchid (bottom).
Badgers and Foxes are common throughout the countryside but not often seen. They take advantage of wooded areas to dig out their earths in the stony ground but hunting has made them wary. In order to see them you will either need to put in the hours near an active earth or you may be lucky and have a chance encounter when out on an evening stroll. Hedgehog and Mole are common on more open ground and notably gardens. Over the last few years other species have reappeared or even seem to be colonising Dordogne. Raccoons, introduced inadvertently in nearby Gironde, have been spreading in spite of trapping campaigns. Stoats, or at least traces of them, have recently been found in eastern Dordogne. It is not certain if this is a recent colonisation or whether they have been there all along. The Wild Cat seems to be another recent colonist (although hybridisation with the domestic cat may complicate identification). Its population is growing in forests close to the Dordogne towards the Massif Central. And then there’s the Wolf (see text box). Although these species remain rare, they illustrate the changing nature of natural ecosystems from open land to woodland (see page 57). The Wolf – making a comeback? Less than a hundred years ago Wolves disappeared from Dordogne. The last wolf pack survived in the Double forest until the First World War and traditionally the last Wolf of all was shot in Sarlande (north-east Dordogne) in 1929 (though there is record of another shot in 1940 at Javerlhac in the north). In the churchyard at Echourgnac, not far from La Ferme du Parcot (route 14), you can visit the grave of the last Wolf hunter, who died in 1906 after killing about a hundred animals in his lifetime. This suggests how common the Wolves were even as late as the early twentieth century. Villagers being woken at night as a warning to the presence of a Wolf (in the past by the banging of wooden clogs) were thought to belong to bygone days and old legends. But the Wolf is making a comeback. Today, numerous tell-tale clues show that Wolves haunt the south west of France again, more specifically the north of Dordogne, as it was here that an animal was shot in a hen-house in the Isle valley in October 2015. The return of the Wolf in Dordogne is, like in other parts of France and other European countries, dividing public opinion. To some, it is the most celebrated proof that after centuries of steady decline, nature is starting to recover from human over-exploitation. Others see in it both a threat and in its romantic appraisal by city-folk, an attitude that is both naïve and condescending to the rural population. Needless to say that with 60% of the population living in rural communities, the Wolf is unlikely to be welcomed with open arms in Dordogne.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
The birds of arable fields can be found on routes 3, 4, and 17. The best routes to track down woodpeckers and other woodland birds are 5, 9, 13, 14, 20 and 21 and site M on page 210. Birds of wetlands feature on routes 1, 6, 8, 9, 12 and sites A, D, I, J, K, P and Q on pages 205-211, while finding cliff birds is best on routes 6 and 8 and site D on page 206. A complete species-by-species list of birds and where to find them is given on page 230.
Dordogne’s ornithological interest lies particularly in the diversity of species in a relatively small area. In one day it is quite easy to see for example Stone Curlew, Peregrine, Dipper, Golden Oriole and Hoopoe. But we aren’t planning a bird race, we prefer to lead you on a kind of ‘slow-twitch’ through the various bird habitats of the region.
Birds of open habitats, cultivated areas and villages
Dordogne’s finest bird habitat is found in its open land, where birds of agricultural land and ‘steppe birds’ occur together… still. It is with some hesitation that we write these words as the alarming decline of farmland birds all over Europe is also evident in Dordogne. The open fields have become less interesting over the last few years: no more Little Bustard, Ortolan Bunting or Corncrake and fewer Woodchat Shrike, Tawny Pipit and Crested Lark. More on that in the conservation section on page 62; here we’ll focus on what’s still there. The first birds that draw the attention are the birds of prey that are attracted by the many rodents and seed-eating birds of the arable plains. The Hen Harrier is widespread with both Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier passing through on migration (the latter is also an occasional breeder). The Common Kestrel and Common Buzzard are still common raptors. A bright spot is the recent colonisation of the Black-winged Kite which is more and more frequent especially in the south of the department around Issigeac and Bergerac (see box on page 92). Common Buzzard, Black Kite,and Short-toed Eagle breed in the woodlands, but spend much of their time hunting over the meadows, arable plains and causses
FLORA AND FAUNA
A sharp-eyed Redbacked Shrike, still a relatively common species in Dordogne on rough ground with bushes.
Stone Curlew are well-camouflaged especially when crouched down in a field. However sometimes the large yellow staring eye shows up (top). The Hen Harrier looks like a butterfly, when it twists and turns to drop on prey (bottom).
where they are easier to spot. The Hobby, an agile and graceful bird of prey often associated with small wetlands where they frequently prey on dragonflies and small birds, can also be found in the open habitats on the plateaux and in the valleys. Quail and Red-legged Partridge use farmland with hedges whereas Skylark and Zitting Cisticola live in cultivated open fields and in the case of the former sometimes on limestone plateaux. The Stone Curlew is another bird of dry causse and pastures that almost disappeared from the region. Fortunately, it has adapted to the changing environment and seems to be making a recovery. You can’t miss the Corn Bunting when it is singing in the open on the top of a tree or on a wire. Though much less common, the Woodchat Shrike also inhabits hedges amongst fields. In the extreme south of the department on the Causse de Daglan you may be lucky enough to observe the Subalpine Warbler in summer on Common Juniper dominated causse. This Mediterranean species is present in nearby Lot-et-Garonne and it seems to be expanding its territory northwards. The Western Orphean Warbler has been recorded occasionally in warm dry bushy places, even nesting on the Plateau de Faux not so long ago. Around hamlets, a variety of habitats create an interesting mosaic. On a fine spring morning, birds are everywhere! Hoopoe, Common Redstart, Black Redstart, White Wagtail and Tree Sparrow (especially near rivers)
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
are never far away, using holes in walls, trees or buildings for nesting. The Serin is also a common village bird in summer – its cheerful jingling song is heard from village trees and rooftops accompanying the spring holiday maker from the morning baguette, all the way through to the afternoon wine. Amongst the stony fields, old orchards, vineyards and even on old stone houses you can sometimes hear the nasal call of Rock Sparrow, especially in arable plateaux and causse areas of Dordogne. Sadly, the Wryneck has declined in recent years but can still be heard calling in a few villages each spring. Old barns offer good nesting opportunities for owls. The Little Owl may be seen on a roof during the day whilst the Barn Owl usually waits for the end of the day to fly over open fields looking for small rodents. In the Little Bustard and Ortolan Bunting, history and extinction The Little Bustard used to be a familiar sight on cultivated plains. In the 1970s and 80s, there were only small numbers remaining on the Plateau de Faux (about ten calling males) and at Verteillac. The species vanished first from Faux as a breeder in the 1990s when one lonely male still showed up in late spring and sent out its characteristic call without a rival to answer it, nor a female to respond. He was probably a member of the group of 5 singing males that returned to Verteillac up until 2003, previously shuttling to and fro between the two places. Because of the critical state of affairs surveys were done and conservation action was taken. This ensured that some land remained fallow to favour breeding, whilst crop harvesting was delayed when a nest was located. Sadly all this work proved insufficient. At Verteillac, like at Faux previously, a lonely male continued to return up until 2013 and then nothing. The Dordogne birds couldn’t avoid the general decline of the European, mainly French and Spanish, population. It is particularly marked in the French northerly migratory populations which included Dordogne. The mechanisation of farming, the declining food supply on farmland and poisoning by pesticides wiped out “la outarde” as it had previously done for the Corncrake. The Ortolan Bunting has vanished more discreetly from cultivated landscapes for similar reasons but also the removal of hedges with increasing field sizes. In 1998, 15 to 25 males were counted in a survey on the Verteillac plateau. The last singing male was heard around 2005. Crested Lark and Tawny Pipit populations appear to be heading the same way.
FLORA AND FAUNA
A proud party with their catch, a European Sturgeon fresh out of the River Dordogne. The photo was taken in 1959 and the man standing just right of the fish is the co-author’s uncle.
European Sturgeon: the river giant The River Dordogne was the last place in the world where the European Sturgeon was known to breed. It was still present in the 1990s. This venerable fish can live 100 years and can measure up to 3.5 m and weigh over 170 kgs, yet it feeds on small crustaceans and annelid worms. The European Sturgeon is a migratory fish, which lays eggs in rivers and lives at sea (note that the Grand Mulette or Spengler’s Freshwater Mussel needs the sturgeon for its reproduction see text box page 121). The sturgeon has already vanished from all British, Dutch, German and other French rivers where it was once found. It is not to be confused with the Russian Sturgeon of the Black, Caspian and Azov Seas but produces equally fine caviar. The sturgeon, one of the oldest types of fish appearing in the fossil record over 400 million years ago, was driven to near extinction by pollution, river bed destruction and dams that deny the fish suitable breeding places along rivers. Fishing for meat and caviar exacerbated these problems as the European populations dwindled further. Without the commitment of a handful of scientists, it would be extinct. A pair of wild fish was caught in 1995, and artificial reproduction was initiated. Some of the resulting fish fry were released for the first time in 2007 and the rest have been kept for breeding in captivity. Since then two organisations, Irstea and Migado, have been working hand in hand at Saint Seurin sur l’Isle (Gironde) to augment the wild population. Research has included studying sturgeon’s feeding habits, ideal living and breeding conditions as well as such things as salinity, water temperature and breeding age. Meanwhile liberated wild fish are being fitted with tags and are closely monitored. Since the project started (up until 2017) 1.3 million larvae, half a million three-month-old juveniles and 3000 one-yearold juveniles have been released into the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, as well as into the River Elbe in Germany. More and more of the project’s fish are being caught (in France but also in Scotland and around the North Sea). However, the program will only have achieved its goal when a sustainable wild population has been achieved. It is believed that breeding in the wild from project fish could soon occur – perhaps around 2020 – as the males reach sexual maturity at 8-10 years and the females at 10-12 years. Who knows – you might be one of the first to see this river giant swim up the River Dordogne once more.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
INSECTS AND OTHER INVERTEBRATES
Insects and other invertebrates
All routes bring you into attractive butterfly habitat. The largest diversity of butterflies is present on routes 7, 10, 16 and 19 and site C, E, G and T on pages 206-212. Rare or special butterfly species are present on routes 5, 9, 10, 16, 18, 19 and site W on page 213. The best dragonfly routes are 1, 2, 6, 9, 14, 15, 18 and 21 and site N on page 210. Chafers, bugs, moths and other invertebrates occur in large numbers on routes 2, 7, 10, 16, and 19.
Around 120 species of butterfly have been recorded in Dordogne, twice the number in the United Kingdom, in an area 4% its size, so not a bad total. Compared to other districts in France, Dordogne scores high for a lowland area, although it can’t compete with the Alps, Pyrenees or Massif Central. Wherever you go in Dordogne, there is a fine range of butterflies. All habitats have their own interesting species – dry limestone grasslands, flower-rich meadows, marshlands, heathlands, scrub, woods, forest and even gardens. Dry limestone grassland supports many of Dordogne’s special butterflies. As such, it is the richest in species of Dordogne’s habitats. The beautiful yellowy-orange male Cleopatra can be common in these places and conspicuous in spring. With more time, careful searching and a bit of luck other, rarer jewels may be discovered like Safflower Skipper, Bath and Southern Small Whites, Niobe Fritillary, Large Wall Brown, Great Sooty Satyr and Blue-spot Hairstreak. Amongst the blues, the Large Blue is quite common but there is also a myriad of other blue species which deserve attention. For example Turquoise, Reverdin’s, Escher’s, Chapman’s, Greenunderside and Long-tailed Blues plus the two short-tailed blue species. These ‘tailed’ blues are often found on heaths as well. The browns and graylings are well represented including Pearly Heath and False Grayling
FLORA AND FAUNA
False Ringlet, a European rarity found on a few wet heaths in Dordogne.
INSECTS AND OTHER INVERTEBRATES
Many butterflies take minerals and sugars from crushed fruits and animal scats. Here, four species of grayling feasting on a crushed rotten apple (top). The four species from left to right are Woodland, Tree, Common and Great Banded. Lesser Purple Emperors and a Heath Fritillary take minerals from an animal scat (bottom).
and large species like Great Banded and Woodland Graylings often land on tree trunks where they are well camouflaged. Amongst the commoner ‘browns’ fluttering in limestone grasslands, you may come across the striking chocolate brown Dryad and a mass of chequered Marbled Whites. The little skippers which are so difficult to follow as they buzz about could be one of a dozen species including Lulworth, Red-underwing and Oberthur’s Grizzled. Remember that the ‘Grizzled Skipper’ you saw may, apart from several other closely-related species, be the identical-looking Southern Grizzled Skipper! Berger’s Clouded Yellow and Spotted Fritillary can be common at the beginning and end of the summer, amongst other fritillaries mentioned below. Flower-rich meadows often hold the highest number of butterflies in summer with such eye-catching species as the Swallowtail and Queen of Spain Fritillary. Twenty species of fritillary have been recorded in Dordogne and some are very difficult to tell apart. In particular the identification of the smaller fritillaries may also prove a bit of a headache but they often pose near to one another thereby aiding the observer. Weaver’s Fritillary is the commonest of the Boloria (Pearl-bordered) group, whilst Knapweed, Heath, Glanville and Meadow are common members of the Melitaea group. The Marbled Fritillary is rather larger and the commonest of the Brenthis group. Of these, with luck you may come across the rare Twin-Spot Fritillary in the east and Lesser Marbled in wetter meadows. Of the coppers, Sooty Copper is one to look out for. The males are dark, whilst the females are like large Small Coppers. Scrubland with wild cherry species supports not only the common Scarce Swallowtail and Black-veined White but also some colonies of
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
INSECTS AND OTHER INVERTEBRATES
the rare Black, Sloe and Brown Hairstreaks. Grassland patches amongst the scrub are a good place to search for Duke of Burgundy in spring and late summer. Marshlands are host to some notable scarce species like Large Copper, False Heath and Lesser Marbled Fritillaries, Scarce Large Blue and Alcon Blue as well as commoner ones like the Marsh Fritil-lary (also found on dry grasslands) which has European-wide protection. Particularly in damp heathland look out for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary but also Chequered Skipper in spring and the darker Large Chequered Skipper (also in alkaline fens) with its funny bouncy flight, which flies in mid summer. At a few sites, notably in the Double forest, you can find a great European rarity: the False Ringlet. It is found amongst the Purple Moor-grass. Although woodlands and forest don’t support the most diverse range of butterflies, they are the place to find some of Dordogne’s most charismatic species. In early spring, Large Tortoiseshells come out of hibernation and bask in the spring sunshine and are often quite easy to find. The most attractive species, however, occur in summer. Two white admiral species and two purple emperors species are possible in summer and several big fritillaries including High Brown can be common. All of them are large, stunningly beautiful and gracious as they drift by amongst a sun-drenched forest on a fine summer’s morning. The two white admiral species patrol forest edges, with Southern White Admiral being the commonest. The emperors frequent poplars and willows (hence they are often found around river valleys) with Lesser Purple Emperor much the commoner species. Both emperors have the peculiar habit of coming down to take nutrients from animal scats. The males are gorgeous with their flashing purple iridescent wings and it’s preferred
FLORA AND FAUNA
High Brown Fritillary basking in a meadow (top). These large fritillaries worship the sun and disappear high up into surrounding trees when clouds arrive. Knapweed Fritillaries indulge in a spot of display ballet (bottom)!
ROUTE 1: RIVER DORDOGNE FROM MAUZAC TO MOULEYDIER
Route 1: River Dordogne from Mauzac to Mouleydier
HALF DAY, 18 KM EASY, ONE WAY The great Dordogne river between the two large dams with lots of birds and fish. A good sprinkling of butterflies and dragonflies. Habitats river, stream, island, canal, riverine woodland, cultivated field, village Selected species Black Kite, Hobby, Sand Martin, Crag Martin, Great White Egret, Dipper, Hoopoe, Serin, Tree Sparrow, Cleopatra, Geranium Bronze, Map, Western Demoiselle, Blue-eye Damselfly, Western Spectre
Cingle de Trémolat
Moulin de Rouzique
map on page 127
This section of the River Dordogne includes Mauzac hydroelectric dam, the rapids and canal of Lalinde, the Couze millstream, the hydroelectric dam and flight of locks at Tuilières and the fish-traps at Mouleydier. Black Kites nest in the riverside forest and you should have good views of them from April to July. The route provides an introduction to the river and its associated habitats. Fish are an important theme throughout much of this route and there is a diverse range of other wildlife interest, notably dragonflies and birds. River management and riverside buildings have also created a diverse habitat for flora and fauna.
Starting point Mauzac
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
ROUTE 1: RIVER DORDOGNE FROM MAUZAC TO MOULEYDIER
Park at the south end of the village near the dam or adjacent canal junction with the river.
Many Black Kite nest in the woods along the river here and notably the north bank which is the left side as you look upstream towards the famous local beauty spot of the Cingle de TrĂŠmolat (see route 2). On a warm sunny day, the canal entrance and area by the dam can be good places to see fish (using binoculars), including Carp, Black Bass, Pumpkinseed, Dace, Perch and Bleak. Scan the river (particularly downstream of the dam) with its marsh and islands. It is good spot for waterbirds with Little, Cattle and Great White Egret, a heronry in the wooded island downstream and sometimes nesting Little Ringed Plover. During migration, unusual birds can turn up here. The marshy scrub has Map butterfly and nesting Melodious and Cettiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Warblers plus Nightingale. There are fish and eel passes on the far side of the river by the dam and the hydroelectric power station (dating back to 1921) a kilometre downstream. In the village Cleopatra visit Butterfly-bush and Blue-eye Damselfly is often common along the riverbank. The Western Spectre dragonfly is present in late summer, flying at dusk. Drive along the narrow riverside road between the canal and river.
On the way, keep an eye out for egrets and other birds. The wooden and brick barns along the valley were once tobacco drying sheds and are just about all that now remains of that farming practice. After several kilometres park on the right under the poplar trees just after the large campsite Le Guillou.
The main church at Lalinde from the viewpoint at the little Romanesque church of Couze-St. Front, high up on the south side of the River Dordogne (top). Crag Martins rest on the church at Lalinde where they also nest (bottom).
ROUTE 6: RIVER DORDOGNE FROM BEYNAC TO GROLÉJAC
Route 6: River Dordogne from Beynac to Groléjac
FULL DAY, 21 KM EASY, ONE WAY Iconic Dordogne landscape with chateaux, the majestic valley and sweeping meanders of the great River Dordogne. Habitats river, stream, islands, riverine woodland, cliff, holm oak woodland, fen, lake, cultivated land, village Selected species Robust Marsh Orchid, Peregrine, Eagle Owl, Crag Martin, Firecrest, Bonelli’s Warbler, Alpine Swift, Alpine Accentor (winter), Wallcreeper (winter), Otter, Genet, Cleopatra, Brilliant Emerald, Marsh Fritillary
1-3 beynac Jardins de Marceyssac
la roque gageac
base de loisirs
This route cuts through classic Dordogne landscape. It starts with ancient chateaux and villages set amongst spectacular cliffs and includes beautiful stretches of river edged with Holm Oak forest before finishing at a marshy wooded tributary stream. Along the way you will see cliff, forest and riverside birds (including in winter the possibility of Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor) and have a chance to look for signs of rare mammals whilst exploring an interesting marshland flora and fauna. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to visit two of ‘Les Plus Jolis Villages de France’ and to savour their wonderful atmosphere, steeped in history.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
ROUTE 6: RIVER DORDOGNE FROM BEYNAC TO GROLÉJAC
Starting Point Chateau de
Beynac car park (small fee). Walk towards the chateau entrance but instead of going inside, take the cobbled path to the right beneath the massive walls, which leads to the ramparts and village. Rather than following it downhill, take the left fork which rises a little. Proceed under the portcullis and continue on the path to the chapel and viewpoint.
Crag Martins often accompany you on this walk in summer. The viewpoint looks south-westward down the river which braids into several channels, creating islands and backwaters. Grey Herons nest in the island trees and are active in spring. In winter (November to March) Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper frequent the chateau buildings and cliffs. If you fail to see them outside the chateau it is worth paying the small entrance fee to search inside and to enjoy the wonderfully restored chateau and views. Return back to the chateau entrance and walk straight on through the upper village street. As you emerge into a little square turn right and take a short walk to another viewpoint looking south-eastward along the river.
The wall has an interesting mix of ferns including Rusty-back, Maidenhair Spleenwort and various polypodies. This is often a warm sunny corner in summer with a Mediterranean ‘feel’ backed by Holm Oak woodland where warmth-loving shrubs like Montpellier Maple, Turpentine Tree, Box and Mediterranean Buckthorn can be found. Butterflies such as Cleopatra are regular in summer. In autumn, look for Wild Cyclamen in the gardens.
Beynac chateau set atop the limestone cliffs high above the village (top). The Wallcreeper is a winter visitor here. Look for the flicking wing movement as it moves up the cliff face (bottom).
ROUTE 13: FORÊT DU LANDAIS
From the car park at Petassa continue on foot down the main track. The garden area and mixed forest is often good for small birds including Bonelli’s Warbler and Short-toed Treecreeper. Further on, the heathy Maritime Pine forest (with some Scots Pine) has plants like Besom Heath and Heath Lobelia plus butterflies including Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Provençal Short-tailed and Short-tailed Blue. Black Woodpecker nest in the forest and on this walk you may notice fallen pine trees with large holes which have been worked over by the birds. Hen Harrier also nest locally and Shorttoed Eagles occasionally fly overhead. Of the smaller birds Tree Pipit and Crested Tit are common and Dartford Warbler nest in the more open areas (though taller and denser vegetation than in the UK).
Some special butterflies of the Landais forest: Chequered Skipper (top), Large Chequered Skipper (centre) and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (bottom).
After 500m or so turn left to Taverne and drop down into a small valley before rising up the other side. Once on the plateau you can take a small detour at the crossroads by turning right and following the path a short way through the open forest (it eventually goes into denser deciduous woodland). On your left is higher ground with a good panorama (for morning raptor-viewing) across the forest to the north-west. Return to the main track and continue towards the houses at Taverne.
In the fields here look for farmland birds such as Stonechat, Cuckoo, Melodious Warbler and in winter Water Pipit.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
ROUTE 13: FORĂ&#x160;T DU LANDAIS
At the T-junction turn right and walk through the mixed forest to Carmel. Where another forest track joins you from the right (in the first fields after the forest) turn right.
The meadows have a nice mix of commoner butterflies including Sooty Copper. Sometimes Red-backed Shrike nests here. After exploring this area continue south-eastwards back into the pine forest where Black Woodpecker have nested. Drop down into the valley bottom which is a hotspot for Chequered Skipper in early May. Continue along the track to return to the car park. From the car park exit at the main road turn right and drive along the D4 to the next crossroads where you turn right on to the D13. After another couple of kilometres you cross the little Eyraud stream and 1 km afterwards, fork left staying on the D13. Continue for 500 metres and you park in the layby car park on your right at a place called La Fontaine du Sanglier.
White-tailed Skimmer is recognisable by the white tail appendages.
Stream inlet points to ponds are always interesting for wildlife, with reduced water current sediment is deposited creating deltas attractive to plant colonisation, butterflies puddling, as crossing points for mammals and drinking places for birds.
ROUTE 15: DRONNE VALLEY
Two tree climbing snakes that occur in the Dronne Valley. The Western Whip Snake grows up to 150 cm in length and has a pattern of irregular and broken dark green bands on a creamyyellow background (top). The Aesculapian Snake is plainer and probably the more arboreal of these two species (bottom).
The south side of the valley is perhaps less interesting for wildlife, but there are few good sites with wildflowers at Saint Sulpice de Roumagnac and Saint Pardoux de Drône. To go to the best one, head south on the D104 from St Méard de Drône and after a couple of kilometres take the right turn to Saint Pardoux de Drône. Drive through the village and turn south-westward dropping down to the valley road near Le Moulin de la Faye. Continue along the valley and after 500m turn left towards Les Marteilles and afterwards towards Montagut. Park your vehicle where the road turns right at the junction with the footpath.
Violet Limodore and Lizard Orchid flower nearby. Follow the footpath southward and you will find various orchids in spring and hear Golden Oriole and Cirl Bunting singing. Then continue on to the cultivated fields following a small trail (a regular badger route). The dry hillside above you is a good site for Yellow Bee Orchid. Return to the car and continue down towards La Moulin de la Faye. At the T-junction turn left and drive a couple of kilometres to the pretty Saint Sulpice de Roumagnac.
Enjoy a visit to the little village first and then continue on to have a look at the reposoir in the cemetery, as well as the church. The beautiful Wild Gladiolus grows around the cemetery together with Lizard Orchid.
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
ROUTE 16: CAUSSE DE PAUSSAC
Route 16: Causse de Paussac
HALF DAY, 10 KM EASY A rich wildlife area steeped in history and prehistory amongst wonderful causse country. Habitats limestone grassland, downy oak and beech woodland, wet meadow, stream, cliff, cultivated field, hay meadow, pasture, village Selected species Military, Tongue and Early Purple Orchids, Southern Smooth Snake, Ocellated Lizard, Parsley Frog, Midwife Toad, Large Blue, Reverdin’s Blue, False Grayling
Les Grellières loubazac
Sand onie Le Breuil
Dolmen de Prézat
abandoned quarry st. vivien
Check the church building for the scarce Rock Sparrow, which breeds here amongst commoner species. Wallcreeper frequents these walls in winter. Midwife Toads can be heard calling nearby on summer evenings.
Starting point Paussac village For the main route, leave your vehicle in Paussac village.
The Paussac Causse is very rich in wildlife and steeped in local history. Like other limestone hills in Dordogne it was traditionally grazed as rough pasture by sheep flocks. There is a dramatic contrast between the very dry causse hills and the adjacent wet meadows in the little Sandonie valley grazed by cattle. The causse faces the familiar problems of forest regrowth as sheep grazing was abandoned (see page 57). Some conservation management has been undertaken to counteract the invasion of shrubs, but much more is needed. However Paussac is certainly one of the best places in Dordogne to discover the scrubby sub-Mediterranean Downy Oak woodland habitat. Nearby, the Boulou valley and adjacent Beech woods provide a further contrast with cooler and damper ‘northern’ conditions.
ROUTE 21: AUVÉZÈRE VALLEY
(Asplenium obovatum billoti) can be found on this section of the route. All of them are either ‘northern’ or mountain species of damp, acidic sites. Rarer species are Jersey Fern and the small, hairy Allosurus tinaei. The latter grows only on one site and the trail takes you right to it: the rocks at Pervendoux, the starting point of this walk. Continue on the footpath and then at the D72E4 turn right and return back to Pervendoux.
Saint Mesmin Plateau From Saint Mesmin drive southwards on the D72E5 to Lavaurie. Leave your vehicle in the hamlet. Walk on to the junction with the D5E3 and turn right and after 500m you will see a little pond on your left and then continue for 1 km crossing the stream to two ponds called Moulin Neuf and La Forge. Hereabouts you can see Dipper, Grey Heron, Kingfisher and Cormorant. Saut Ruban is a beautiful waterfall near Saint Mesmin. There is a well-indicated 2 km path from the village centre. It is a very spectacular place but in summer there are often too many kayakers and tourists to see the breeding birds which include Dipper and Grey Wagtail.
Two species of fastflowing streams: the Beautiful Demoiselle (top) and the Dipper (bottom).
CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
205 Parc Naturel Régional Périgord-Limousin
h d e
Ga ro n
A – L’étang de la Barde
This lake once provided the water power for a forge and subsequently a wool mill. This is a site with bogs and has a flora that fits that habitat. One of the plants growing here is Round-leaved Sundew. There is a beautiful 1 hour walk around lake that passes along the bog. The site is located between Saint Pierre de Frugie and Saint Priest les Fougères, east of the D67. There is a car park by the Maison du Parc and a footpath around the lake.
B – Saint Pardoux la Rivière
At Saint Pardoux la Rivière lies a circular footpath devoted to orchids. There are 17 stops along the route to see 20+ species including Monkey, Military, Lady, Bee, Fly and Early Spider. Orchids can be best seen from mid-April until the end June. The site is located at Saint Pardoux. Follow the footpath along the River Dronne to Saint Front la Rivière. From here take the road
TOURIST INFORMATION & OBSERVATION TIPS Travel Travelling to Dordogne
By car: Dordogne can be reached by car from the north via the autoroutes A10 or A20 and links to the local A89 or by a more leisurely drive through France on the ‘N’ (National) or ‘D’ (Departmental) roads. This can be combined with an overnight stop at the Brenne for example – see Crossbill Guide Loire Valley. From the south use autoroutes: A20, A62, A63 or A65. By plane: there are regular international flights to Bergerac, Bordeaux, Limoges and Toulouse. Major car hire firms have offices at these airports as well as in the large towns. By train: there are two fast TGV train lines from Paris: to Bordeaux (stopping at Angoulême and Libourne) and to Souillac (stopping at Brive and Limoges). It is also possible to have your car transported from Paris to Bordeaux or Brive by AutoTrain.
Travelling in Dordogne
By car: roads are quiet and very pleasant to drive outside of the few larger towns in high summer, but beware occasional fast cars and vans on minor roads. There is one motorway toll road, the A89, which traverses the centre of Dordogne from west to east passing by the capital city Périgueux. By bike: cycling is very pleasant as there are many minor roads, the terrain is not too steep and there are generally plenty of shady areas. Temperatures are agreeable although it can get hot in summer. By public transport: travelling in Dordogne by public transport is not easy as there are relatively few regional buses or trains. Regular bus services are mainly within Périgueux and Bergerac, with a very limited service elsewhere operated by TransPérigord. There are three railway routes: north to south: Limoges – Périgueux – Le Buisson – Agen, west to east: Bordeaux- Libourne – Bergerac – Sarlat and another west to east: Bordeaux – Libourne – Périgueux – Brive.
Try to speak at least a few words of French where possible, locals and especially older people will appreciate it and you will enjoy your visit even more. And don’t forget to tell people you meet here, especially locals for example in shops and restaurants, that you came to Dordogne to see the wildlife...amongst other things!
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Planning your trip When to go
The timing of your visit to Dordogne depends on what you want to see. Winter is the time to look for Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Peregrine and Eagle Owl (the latter hooting at night) along the cliffs of the Dordogne and Vézère valleys. Spring comes early to Dordogne. This can be up to several weeks or even a month earlier than you would expect for similar species in UK, Holland or Germany. During February and more generally in March during fine weather, migration is noticeable with Red and Black Kites plus dramatic flocks of Common Cranes. By later in the month most Crag Martins are back at nesting cliffs. With leafless trees (until early April) this is a good time to search for woodpeckers such as Black and Middle Spotted actively setting up territories in mature woodlands. The first orchids, Green-winged and the spider orchids bloom in late March, early butterflies are flying such as Large Tortoiseshell, Short-toed Eagle arrive and resident birds are busy with nesting activity. It is also one of the best times to search for reptiles and amphibians after they have emerged from hibernation. April sees the return of the majority of summer visiting birds including Bonelli’s Warbler, Alpine Swift, Honey Buzzard, Hobby and Hoopoe earlier in the month with Golden Oriole later on. Reservoirs and gravel pits can be of interest for migrant birds including waders. A great variety of orchids like Violet Limodore, Woodcock and Lady Orchid can be seen at this time on the limestone, set amongst a backdrop of beautiful soft greens of both the woods and grasslands. In early May, late migrants such as the Red-backed Shrike arrive and the variety of butterflies is increasing. So late April to mid May is an ideal time to see the richness of Dordogne wildlife, plus the temperatures are pleasant and the countryside is verdant. Later in May and into June with temperatures and sunshine hours increasing, butterflies and other wildflowers and insects take centre stage and this is perhaps time for butterfly lovers and entomologists to visit. Rare butterflies like Woodland Brown, False Ringlet, Great Sooty Satyr and Escher’s Blue are on the wing in the forests and causse areas. Dragonfly enthusiasts will find a range of damselflies and clubtail species, although July and August have a greater variety of species including Western Spectre, Orange-spotted Emerald and Violet Dropwing. This is the busy holiday season and the weather can be very hot and dry through this period. Coupled with the end of the bird nesting season this can make the countryside seem rather quiet unless you are out and about early or late in the day. Bird migration starts around this time. By early September woods and fields can be full of small birds such as Pied Flycatcher, leaf warblers, Black Redstart, Whinchat and Wheatear whilst waders appear at the reservoirs and gravel pits. Insect life is still diverse through the month, temperatures are more pleasant and tranquillity returns after the holiday season. Common Crane and Red Kite pass through once more in October, Red Deer begin the rut and the autumn colours start to show later in the month and into November.
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This is a mellow time with early morning mists on the rivers and crisp mornings but often sunny and warm afternoons. The harvest is largely finished, fields are being prepared and markets have their first wild mushrooms. Perhaps surprisingly there are still a variety of wildflowers, birds and insects including Long-tailed Blue and Geranium Bronze to interest the visiting naturalist. Winter visitors like Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor return in early November. Later in November and into December frosts increase, wildlife activity declines and winter birds are the main interest. This is a good time to look for resident birds such as Black-winged Kite, Hawfinch, Dartford Warbler, Firecrest and Crested Tit as populations are augmented by young birds.
Dordogne is too large to cover from a single base. Which areas to visit and which to skip depends of course on your interests, the season and the length of your stay. Here are some helpful suggestions. A look at the map of our routes and sites (see the inside of the back flap) shows a concentration of sites in the south and north with a few more distant ones towards Bordeaux. Périgueux makes for a good base in the north with major routes fanning out northwards plus the fast east-west A89 autoroute. Either of Lalinde, Le Bugue or Le Buisson would be a good base for the south, being located on or near the main trunk road running east-west along the Dordogne valley. The two westerly routes 11 and 12 could be combined with a visit to Bordeaux. There are a wide range of accommodation types from hotels and ‘chambres d’hôtes’ (bed and breakfasts) to gites (self-catering holiday homes) and camp sites. See www. dordogne-perigord-tourisme.fr for full details of a variety of options including ecotourism sites. Another useful website is www.gites-de-france.com and of course there are many international websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway. There is a good number and range of rural gites and so there should be something suitable close to our routes and sites. Campsites are often on or adjacent to good wildlife habitat. So just choose your area and do a little research on the web!
Shops tend to be open 9 – 12 in the morning and 2 – 7 in the afternoon, although bigger supermarkets may be open all day until 7 or 8 pm. Some supermarkets open on Sunday morning (some closing by 11.45am) but most shops tend to be shut on Sunday. Some businesses are also closed on Mondays. The majority of towns have at least one supermarket plus other shops and services. For working people lunchtime lasts from 12 to 2 and so restaurants are mainly open at these times. If you wish to be served quickly, noon is a good time to arrive. Evening meals start at around 7.30pm and some restaurants will be closed by 10pm. Metered car parking is often free of charge between 12 midday and 2pm.
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Additional information Recommended reading
Wildflowers: Being on a crossroads of the Mediterranean and the temperate regions, there is no single English language flora that covers the region well. In French however there is a very useful and attractively produced publication Les Plantes de Dordogne by Bernard & Nicole Bédé and Jean-Claude Martegoute (Editions Bacofin 2015), which has good descriptions and photographs. There is also the standard key for France Flora Gallica – Flore de France by Jean-Marc Tison and Bruno de Foucault (Biotope 2014). It is excellent, scientific, but bone-dry, with line drawings only. English readers could do adequately with an extensive flora on the British Isles (e.g. The Wildflower Key by Francis Rose, Penguin 2015), complemented with a flora on the Mediterranean (e.g. Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean by Marjorie Blamey and Christopher Grey-Wilson (A&C Black 2004). Orchid lovers should not miss the excellent A la découverte des Orchidées d’Aquitaine by Frank Jouandoudet (Biotope Editions 2015), who is also one of the authors of this guidebook. The Observatoire de la Flore Sud-Atlantique website www.ofsa.fr is an excellent source of information on local plants and their distribution. Mammals: Mammals of Britain and Europe by David MacDonald and Priscilla Barrett (Collins Field Guide 2005) is probably the best field guide with a mass of information. Birds: All the main guides to European birds are useful but we particularly recommend the Collins Bird Guide by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström (HarperCollins 2011). There is an excellent local atlas of breeding birds in Aquitaine which includes Dordogne: Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs d’Aquitaine produced by the LPO Aquitaine (Delachaux & Nestlé, 2015). Also highly recommended is the excellent, extensive two-volume Atlas des Oiseaux de France métropolitaine by Nidal Issa and Yves Muller (Delachaux & Nestlé, 2015), which covers the whole of France. The LPO Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Aquitaine website www.lpoaquitaine.org contains much information about birds in Aquitaine and includes a guided walk programme and a link to the Faune-Aquitaine wildlife recorder’s website www.faune-aquitaine.org. This latter site includes wildlife atlas information. Reptiles, amphibians, fish: The new Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Britain and Europe (British Wildlife Field Guides) by Jeroen Speybroek et al, (Bloomsbury 2016) is very good, up to date and well produced. For fish we suggest Britain’s Freshwater Fishes by Mark Averard (WILDGuides 2013). Butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates: For butterflies the French Papillons de France by Tristan Lafranchis (Diatheo 2014) is excellent. There are
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various guides in English and we suggest the photographic Butterflies of Britain and Europe by Tari Haahtela et al. (A&C Black 2011). For dragonflies the Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe by Klaas-Douwe B Dijkstra and Richard Lewington (British Wildlife Publishing 2006) is convenient and wellproduced. The new book A Photographic Guide to Insects of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean by Paul D. Brock (Pisces 2017) is an excellent companion to the trusty Insects of Britain and Western Europe by Michael Chinery (A&C Black 2012.) Other guide books: For birdwatchers Birding Dordogne by Crossbill Guide author David Simpson (BirdGuides 2014) is a site guide to some of the best birding places in Dordogne. Traveller’s Nature Guides FRANCE by Bob Gibbons, OUP 2003 is a great introduction to wildlife-watching across France including several sites in and around Dordogne. There is an informative guide book to the extreme north of Dordogne Itinéraires touristiques & culturels. Parc Naturel Régional Périgord-Limousin by Frédéric Dubuisson (L’entonnoir éditions 2003). Rivières et Vallées de la France, La Dordogne edited by Guy Pustelnik (Editions Privat 1993) is a beautifully produced and highly informative reference work on the Dordogne valley. Sites Naturels en Périgord (Editions Fanlac et CAUE 24 Périgueux 1993) is an attractive introduction to Dordogne habitats. Finally the Atlas de la Dordogne – Périgord by Patrick Ranoux 1996 is a detailed reference book with maps of all aspects of Dordogne. Of course there are various good general tourist guide books such as The Rough Guide to the Dordogne and the Lot, Dordogne and South-West France in the Eyewitness Travel series and the Dordogne Berry Limousin Michelin Guide. The Conservatoire Espaces Naturels Aquitaine website www.cen-aquitaine.org contains information about nature conservation in Aquitaine and includes a guided walk programme, volunteering opportunities and wildlife atlas work information.
Observation tips Finding orchids
Dordogne is a rich hunting ground for orchid lovers. The vast majority of species are calcicoles (limestone-loving) and in Dordogne you are rarely far from this bedrock. The best areas are the southern, central and north-west areas. The limestone causses are the notable hotspots (routes 2, 7, 10, 15, 16 and 19, plus sites B, C, E, F, G, R, S and V). The central-west and north-east are crystalline geology with acid soils only suited to a few orchid species. Even in these areas base-rich soils on farmland, roadside verges and marshes may hold more species. See the orchid list (freely downloadable from our website) for further details of where to look.
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If you go out looking for orchids, timing is important. The first species such as Green-winged Orchids and the spider orchid group can be flowering by mid March. April and May are perhaps the best months with mid-April to end of May the peak for species diversity. Remember however that some species don’t flower until nearly June such as the helleborines. By late June the season is largely over though you still have the Autumn Lady’s-tresses in September on old grasslands, for example on lawns including those at campsites. Once you have chosen a good time to visit and located the rich orchid areas, search amongst grassland which is lightly grazed or occasionally mown, amongst limestone rock and stones with minimal plant growth, or where scrub is reclaiming open ground – or better still a combination of these! Some species seem to like the edge of scrub patches often amongst low branches, so always check these carefully. Grassy roadsides along quiet lanes are often some of the best areas to search. Remember that wild orchids are generally rather small and demure, (though they are often very pretty) compared the large flamboyant tropical varieties that can be purchased at garden centres. One thing all orchids have in common is a rather thick pale fleshy stem which can catch the eye especially amongst dull early season swards. Orchid basal (ground) leaves may also be rather large, of simple shape, bright green and fleshy. Good luck!
Finding reptiles and amphibians
Of the 30 or so species of reptiles and amphibians, only a couple are ubiquitous and active by day and so easy to see. The first is a lizard: the Wall Lizard. It may well be living at your accommodation place or if not will be seen regularly on excursions especially in villages on sunny days. The second is the large Edible Frog which lives in ponds, lakes and river backwaters and advertises itself by its loud quacking call which can build up to quite a chorus. For all reptiles and amphibians, the ‘when’ is again important. Generally, amphibians are most easy to find in the late winter and spring when they are making their way to their watery breeding sites to spawn. However note that for observing the Fire Salamander, November can be a very productive month. A damp mild evening is always best to search suitable habitat for your target species. Otherwise sightings will be chance encounters usually in damp weather and habitats! Reptiles need sunny weather to attain suitable body temperature. During summer this is less important as ambient temperatures are so high. Early (March/April) or late season (September/October) just after or prior to hibernation, can be good for observation as animals are more sluggish and need to bask more in sunny weather. In high summer basking may be just for short periods early in the day. At this time, mixed weather even with rain can be good as long as there are sunny intervals occasionally to force animals out to bask and show themselves. When searching for
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lizards and snakes basking, keep the sun behind you if possible as you will be more aware of likely basking positions ahead of you and should have a more direct view. Scan with binoculars at a distance before you get too close and you or your shadow frightens the animal off. The sound is important as well. Most amphibians are vocal. The soft piping of the Midwife Toad can be heard at dusk in many hamlets from spring to autumn especially when there is rain in the air. It’s advisable to get acquainted with amphibian calls (see www.faune-aquitaine.org) as this is one of the best ways to find species even if you don’t actually see them! Reptiles, shy as they are, are often heard as they dash off into cover. The sound is different from small birds (which make sounds at intervals as they hop about) and generally not as continuous or loud as mammals. When the sound indicates a slow movement, you stand a good chance of seeing the animal. If you see an animal move off or hear the rustle of movement, return to view the site five minutes or so later, as the animal may have returned. Likely places to see reptiles are open patches on vegetated sunny banks, stone piles, log piles etc., where there is a warm microclimate and animals can move to safety easily. Lifting up stones or plastic may reveal reptiles but beware of other species which may sting and always replace the stone, as you will have disturbed a home to many species. Among the snakes, the Western Whip Snake is one of the most commonly seen species (sadly often as a road kill). Viperine and Grass Snakes tend to be seen in or near to water. The European Pond Terrapin can be best observed hauled out on stones or wood on the edge of a pond.
Finding butterflies and dragonflies
Butterflies: Consult the butterfly list on our website (freely downloadable) to find out key details like when the different species fly and where they are likely to be. In order to find butterflies, recognising potential hotspots in the landscape is important. Like orchids, some of the best butterflying areas are the causses with their wide variety of nectar sources and (sometimes specialised) caterpillar food plants. It is here that many of the rarer species like Great Sooty Satyr, Turquoise Blue, Twin Spot Fritillary and Blue-spot Hairstreak can be found in Dordogne. Even better are those areas with flowery meadows adjacent, which act as a magnet to many of the same butterflies, thereby concentrating them. Stay a while in these locations as different species will come and go. For some of the larger fritillaries, emperors and the rare Woodland Brown head for the forests, whilst for other rarer species like False Ringlet, Scarce Large Blue, Large Copper and Chequered Skipper you need to visit special wetlands (see the box on page 109 for the best routes). Swallowtails like to ‘hilltop’ where males clash in a form of lekking behaviour. Hairstreaks and emperors often gather at the top of particular oak trees. Hairstreaks particularly
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The following bird list includes all regular breeding and wintering birds and passage migrants. Numbers between the brackets (…) refer to the routes from page 124 onwards; the additional sites are described on pages 205 to 213. A knowledge of bird calls and songs is very helpful and especially important in woodland areas, so we recommend using the website www.xeno-canto.org Cormorant Cormorant is common on large rivers and lakes, mainly in winter. Herons and egrets Grey Heron, Little Egret and Great White Egret are all common (especially in winter) on large rivers and lakes (e.g. 1, 6 12 and sites D, J and K). Cattle Egret is an uncommon nesting bird but increasing (1, 12) and common in winter especially in fields to the west. Night Heron is a rare nesting bird in the west (12). Purple Heron is a regular migrant on rivers and lakes. Great Bittern is a rare winter visitor (9, 14). Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Spoonbill are occasional visitors. Storks, Common Crane and Little Bustard White Stork nests mainly in the west (11, 12 and site I) and is widespread on passage (mainly in the west). Black Stork is a regular migrant in small numbers. Large numbers of Common Crane pass over Dordogne on their seasonal migrations. They can be seen anywhere but more frequently in the west. Until recently Little Bustard nested on the arable plateaux but since then even migrant birds are rarely recorded. Mute Swan, ducks and other waterfowl Mute Swan is common along the lower Dordogne valley. Mallard is the duck you regularly see throughout. Routes 1, 11, 12, 14 and sites J, K, P and Q offer the highest chance of other wildfowl. Teal is regular in winter with Shoveler, Wigeon, Garganey, Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck seen singly or in very low numbers during migration periods and winter. Greylag Goose is regular in small numbers on migration but beware of feral birds. Canada Goose nests by the River Dordogne in Bergerac. Coot, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe are in essentially the same places as the ducks. The latter, plus Moorhen, breed on small well-vegetated water bodies. Other ducks, grebes (notably Black-necked) and divers are rare winter visitors to larger water bodies. Water Rail is uncommon in marshy areas (6, 9). Raptors Short-toed Eagle is a widespread but rather scarce summer visitor (3, 4, 7, 10, 14, 15, 16 and sites E, K and M). Booted Eagle is a recent colonist and a few pairs now regularly breed (10). Red Kite is a common migrant. Black Kite is a common summer visitor, especially nesting in the river valleys. Black-winged Kite is a recent colonist, now well established in the south-west on the arable plateau at Faux (3, 4) and valley around Bergerac, including the airport. Hen Harrier is a widespread but rather scarce resident (3, 4, 5, 17 and sites H and M). Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier are passage migrants (the latter used to nest) in much the same places. Buzzards are common, widespread residents. Honey Buzzard is a
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widespread but rather scarce summer visitor (2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 16, 20). Sparrowhawk is a common and widespread resident, Goshawk is a scarce resident mostly in the forested areas in the west (5, 13, 14 and site M). Osprey is a regular passage migrant to the rivers and lakes (1, 6, 8, 12, 14 and sites D, K, Q and R). Griffon Vultures from the Pyrenees and Spain occasionally drift over Dordogne. Kestrel is a common resident on open agricultural land. Hobby is a fairly common summer visitor to river valleys and open farmland (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 19, 21 and site K). Peregrine Falcon is a fairly common resident of quarries and riverside cliffs (2, 6, 8, 10, 16, 21 and site D). Merlin is regular but rare on autumn migration. Partridges, Quail and Pheasant Red-legged Partridge and Common Quail are common farmland birds in arable areas (3, 4, 17), the latter in summer only and mainly on the large plateaux, whilst Grey Partridge is rare. Common Pheasant is widespread but rather scarce. Stone Curlew and waders Stone Curlew is an uncommon summer visitor to the large arable plateaux (3, 4, 17). Little Ringed Plover is a rather scarce summer visitor to larger rivers plus reservoirs and gravel pits (1, 6 and sites J, P and Q). Lapwing is a common passage migrant and winter visitor to farmland as well as to reservoirs and gravel pits, whilst Golden Plover and Common Curlew are scarce migrants of fields and reservoirs sometimes with Lapwings. Common Sandpiper is a very common passage and winter visitor to larger rivers plus reservoirs and gravel pits. Woodcock is a common winter visitor to woodland areas whilst Jack Snipe is a rare winter visitor to wetlands. Reservoirs and gravel pits (sites J, P and Q) attract a wide range of wading birds in small numbers on migration including Green and Wood Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Common Snipe, Ruff and occasional Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. Gulls, terns and other seabirds Only two species of gull are commonly seen: Blackheaded and Yellow-legged and normally at larger rivers, reservoirs, gravel pits or flying over. Little, Lesser Black-backed, Mediterranean, Common and Herring Gulls are occasional visitors. Whiskered, Black and Common Tern are regular migrants, the former being most frequent and found along the larger rivers and at reservoirs and gravel pits (1, 6 and sites J, P and Q). Owls Tawny Owl is a common and widespread resident in and around woodland. Long-eared Owl is a rather scarce but widespread resident in open country with copses (3, 4, 15, 17, 21) whilst in similar areas Little Owl and Barn Owl are more frequent. Scops Owl is a summer visitor notably to the arable plateaux (3, 4, 17). Eagle Owl is a rare resident of the cliffs and quarries along the Dordogne and Vézère rivers (6, 8). Short-eared Owl is a rare winter visitor. Pigeons and Doves Wood Pigeon is a very common resident everywhere with large flocks migrating south-west across Dordogne in October/November. Stock Dove is a rare resident of cliff habitats along the Dordogne and Vézère rivers (6, 8).
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SPECIES LIST & TRANSLATION The following list comprises all species mentioned in this guidebook and gives their scientific, German and Dutch names. It is not a complete checklist of the species of Dordogne. Some names have an asterisk (*) behind them, indicating an unofficial name. See page 7 for more details.
Flora English Scientific German Dutch Adder’s-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum Gewöhnliche Natternzunge Addertong Alder, Common Alnus glutinosa Schwarz-Erle Zwarte els Anemone, Crown Anenome coronaria Kronen-Anemone Kroonanemoon Anemone, Peacock Anenome pavonia Pfauen-Anemone Pauwanemoon Anemone, Wood Anemone nemorosa Busch-Windröschen Bosanemoon Angelica, Estuary Angelica heterocarpa Verschiedenfrüchtige Delta-engelwortel* Engelwurz* Angelica, Wild Angelica sylvestris Wilde Engelwurz Gewone engelwortel Ash, Common Fraxinus excelsior Gemeine Esche Gewone es Aspen Populus tremula Espe Ratelpopulier Asphodel, Bog Narthecium ossifragum Beinbrech Beenbreek Asphodel, White Asphodelus albus Weisser Affodil Witte affodil Balm, Bastard Melittis melissophyllum Immenblad Bijenblad Barley Hordeum vulgare Mehrzeilige Gerste Gerst Bedstraw, Lady’s Galium verum Echtes Labkraut Geel walstro Beech Fagus sylvatica Buche Beuk Beggarticks Bidens frondosa Schwarzfrüchtiger Zwart tandzaad Zweizahn Bellflower, Clustered Campanula glomerata Geknäuelte Glockenblume Kluwenklokje Bellflower, Nettle-leaved Campanula trachelium Nesselblättrige Ruig klokje Glockeblume Bellflower, Small Campanula erinus Alpenbalsam-Glockenblume Dwergklokje* Betony Stachys officinalis Echter Ziest Betonie Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus Blaubeere Blauwe bosbes Bindweed, Pink Convolvulus cantabrica Kantabrische Winde Kantabrische winde Birch, Silver Betula pendula Hänge-Birke Ruwe berk Bird-in-a-bush Corydalis solida Gefingerter Lerchensporn Vingerhelmbloem Bitter-cress, Narrow-leaved Cardamine impatiens Spring-Schaumkraut Springzaadveldkers Bitter-vetch Lathyrus linifolius Berg-Platterbse Knollathyrus Blackthorn Prunus spinosa Schlehe Sleedoorn Bladderwort, Common Utricularia vulgaris Gewöhnlicher Groot blaasjeskruid Wasserschlauch Bladderwort, Southern* Utricularia australis Verkannter Wasserschlauch Loos blaasjeskruid Bluebell, Common Hyacinthoides non-scripta Hasenglöckchen Wilde hyacinth Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata Fieberklee Waterdrieblad Box Buxus sempervirens Buchsbaum Buxus Bracken Pteridium aquilinum Adlerfarn Adelaarsvaren Brome, Upright Bromus erectus Aufrechte Trespe Bergdravik Brookweed Samolus valerandi Salz-Bunge Waterpunge Broom Cytisus scoparius Besenginster Gewone brem Broom, Butcher’s Ruscus aculeatus Stechender Mäusedorn Stekelige muizendoorn Broom, Silver-lined* Argyrolobium zanonii Silberginster Zilverbrem* CROSSBILL GUIDES • DORDOGNE
Broomrape, Amethyst Orobanche amethystea Amethyst-Sommerwurz Violette bremraap Broomrape, Ivy Orobanche hederae Efeu-Sommerwurz Klimopbremraap 239 Bryony, Black Tamus communis Gemeine Schmerwurz Spekwortel Buckthorn, Alder Frangula alnus Faulbaum Sporkenhout Buckthorn, Mediterranean Rhamnus alaternus Immergrüner Kreuzdorn Altijdgroene wegedoorn* Bugle Ajuga reptans Kriechender Günsel Kruipend zenegroen Burnet, Great Sanguisorba officinalis Grosser Wiesenknopf Grote pimpernel Burnet, Salad Sanguisorba minor Kleiner Wiesenknopf Kleine pimpernel Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga Kleine Bibernelle Kleine bevernel Buttercup, Celery-leaved Ranunculus sceleratus Gift-Hahnenfuss Blaartrekkende boterbloem Buttercup, Corn Ranunculus arvensis Acker-Hahnenfuss Akkerboterbloem Buttercup, Grass-leaved Ranunculus gramineus Grasblättriger Hahnenfuss Grasbladige boterbloem* Butterfly-bush Buddleja davidii Gewöhnlicher Vlinderstruik Sommerflieder Butterwort, Pale Pinguicula lusitanica Portugiesisches Fettkraut Bleek vetblad Calamint Clinopodium nepeta Kleinblütige Bergminze Kleine bergsteentijm Campion, Bladder Silene vulgaris Taubenkropf-Leimkraut Blaassilene Caraway, Whorled Carum verticillatum Quirlblättriger Kümmel Kranskarwij Carduncellus, Dwarf Blue* Carduncellus mitissimus Carduncellus* Carduncellus* Catchfly, Nottingham Silene nutans Nickendes Leimkraut Nachtsilene Centaury, Yellow Cicendia filiformis Fadenenzian Draadgentiaan Cherry, Saint Lucy Prunus mahaleb Steinweichsel Weichselboom Cherry, Wild Prunus avium Vogel-Kirsche Zoete kers Chestnut, Sweet Castanea sativa Edelkastanie Tamme kastanje Chicory Cichorium intybus Gemeine Wegwarte Wilde cichorei Cinquefoil, Mountain Potentilla montana Berg-Fingerkraut Bergganzerik Cinquefoil, Spring Potentilla tabernaemontani Frühlings-Fingerkraut Voorjaarsganzerik Cinquefoil, Sulphur Potentilla recta Hohes Fingerkraut Rechte ganzerik Clary, Meadow Salvia pratensis Wiesen-Salbei Veldsalie Clover, Crimson Trifolium incarnatum Inkarnat-Klee Inkarnaatklaver Clover, Prostrate Canary Dorycnium pentaphyllum Fünfblättriger Backenklee Vijfbladige struikklaver* Club-rush, Triangular Schoenoplectus triqueter Dreikantige Teichbinse Driekantige bies Cockle, Corn Agrostemma githago Kornrade Bolderik Columbine, Common Aquilegia vulgaris Gewöhnliche Akelei Wilde akelei Comfrey, Tuberous Symphytum tuberosum Knoten-Beinwell Knolsmeerwortel Cornflower Centaurea cyanus Kornblume Korenbloem Cotton-grass Eriophorum sp. Wollgras Wollegras Cowslip Primula veris Wiesen-Schlüsselblume Gulden sleutelbloem Cow-wheat, Common Melampyrum pratense Wiesen-Wachtelweizen Hengel Crosswort Cruciata laevipes Gewimpertes Kreuzlabkraut Kruisbladwalstro Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis Wiesen-Schaumkraut Pinksterbloem Cucumber, Bur Sicyos angulatus Haargurke Stekelaugurk Cyclamen, Wild Cyclamen hederifolium Efeublättriges Napolitaanse cyclaam Alpenveilchen Daisy, Ox-eye Leucanthemum vulgare Magerwiesen-Margerite Gewone margriet Dead-nettle, Spotted Lamium maculatum Gefleckte Taubnessel Gevlekte dovenetel Dogwood Cornus sanguinea Blutroter Hartriegel Rode kornoelje Eryngo, Field Eryngium campestre Feld-Mannstreu Echte kruisdistel Fern, Brittle Bladder Cystopteris fragilis Zerbrechlicher Blasenfarn Blaasvaren Fern, Hard Blechnum spicant Rippenfarn Dubbelloof Fern, Jersey Anogramma leptophylla Nacktfarn Eenjarige dwergvaren* Fern, Maidenhair Adiantum capillus-veneris Venushaarfarn Venushaar Fern, Marsh Thelypteris palustris Sumpffarn Moerasvaren TOURIST INFORMATION & OBSERVATION TIPS
CROSSBILL GUIDES FOUNDATION
The Dordogne area in south-west France has a remarkable range of wild landscapes. The beautiful rivers include tidal sections, marshes, cliffs and upland tributary streams set amongst limestonedominated hills. Elsewhere diverse woodlands, hay meadows, caves, heathlands, arable plateaux plus ancient vineyards and villages also offer visitors great wildlife experiences in what has been called ‘the cradle of pre-history’.
The Crossbill Guide to Dordogne, France consists of 21 routes and numerous other sites to discover this wonderful region. The book is complemented with extensive chapters on landscape, geology, history, descriptions of the flora and fauna and tips to observe wildlife.
• The guide that covers the wildflowers, birds and all other wildlife • Routes, where-to-watch-birds information and other observation tips • Insightful information on landscape and ecology “Everything you need to turn up in the right place and at the right time to find some of the best wildlife in Europe. You might get Lost in France with Bonnie Tyler but not if you have this superb book in your backpack.” Chris Packham – BBC Springwatch
www . crossbillguides . org if you want to see more