ORNITHOLOGY - Birdwatching - France, Massif Central.

Gîte : Lou Coucaye ~ A gite for ornithologists

The hamlet of Chazieux, near St. Ilpize, is situated right in the heart of the Haut Val d'Allier bird preservation area, a wonderful area for birders and birdwatchers. The area is currently in designated as a "Special Protection Zone" (Z.P.S.) (equivalent of a UK SSSI) under the "Birds directive" of the European Natura 2000 Programme. The Haut Val d'Allier is also designated as a protected habitat area.  The Haute Loire "Maison des Oiseaux" (bird information centre - with organised bird watching trips) is located at Lavoûte Chilhac, just 7 km away by bike or on foot or  4x4, or 12 km by the road. Below we list some of the many birds, and notably the birds of prey, that frequent or nest in the zone.
Visit the gite (holiday cottage) and the area (click here).    
View More nature and wildlife photos taken around gîte Lou Coucaye

Short toed eagles - Chazieux has one of Europe's largest concentration of nesting pairs.

The most significant birds  nesting in the Zone.

Photo by Jennifer Sjolund. A short toed eagle, photographed from the terrace of the gite.

Other birds nesting in the zone and designated for special protection:
Name (number of nesting paris in the zone)
Woodlark (200 - 500) ( Lullula arborea)
Honey Buzzard (50 - 100) (Pernis apivorus)
Ortolan Bunting ( 10 - 20) (Emberiza hortulana)
Montagu's harrier ( 10 - 20)  (Circus pygargus)
Marsh harrier ( 10 - 20) (Circus cyaneus)
Nightjar ( 100 - 200) (Caprimulgus europaeus)
Peregrine Falcon ( 4)  (Falco peregrinus)
Eagle Owl ( 24 - 25)  (Bubo bubo)
Kingfisher ( 10) (Alcedo Atthis)
Black Kite ( 40 - 100)  (Milvus migrans)
Red Kite ( 50 - 100 ) (Milvus milvus)
Black woodpecker ( 50 - 100)  (Dryocopus martius)
Grey-headed woodpecker ( 2 - 10)  (Picus canus)
Raven  (20 - 25)
Tengmalm's Owl ( 0 - 5)  (Aegolius funereus)
Other protected birds that have been recorded recently (or regularly) in the area:
Booted eagle  (Hieraetus pennatus)
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Hen harrier  (circus aeruginosus)
White stork (ciconia ciconia)
Black stork  (ciconia nigra)
Merlin (falco colombarius)
Red footed falcon (falco vespertinus)
Dartford Warbler (sylvia undata)
Crane (grus grus)
Short eared owl (asio flammeus)
Little gull (larus minutus)
Tawny pippit (anthus campestris)
Griffon vulture (gyps fulvus)
(Griffon vultures are slowly migrating out from the Tarn gorge area where they were intially reintroduced in the late 20th century)

Other birds (among many others) that can be seen regularly in and around Chazieux:
Buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks.
Bullfinches, goldfinches and others
Great tits, coal tits
Robins, redstarts
Green woodpeckers, greater spotted woodpeckers
Cormorants, herons
Magpies, jays

Visit the gite Lou Coucaye (holiday cottage) and the area (click here).

Location: the Haut Val d'Allier is situated 100 km south of the city of Clermont Ferrand, and runs from the town of Brioude in the north, to south of Langeac.
Chazieux is situated about mid-way between Brioude and Langeac.
Access: French motorways A 71 to Clermont Ferrand, then continue on A 75. Exit at junction 20. Travel time from Calais: 8 to 9 hours.

Other websites:
More about Birds in France.

Other interesting sites: Visit the Gloster Birder, for a wide selection of birding news from Gloucestershire and the west, plus an interesting collection of birding articles, links and information.