Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

Birder’s house for sale in France: the house, the photos.

Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

A charming sun deck and birdwatching spot!

 Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

The house front: but what lies beyond?

 Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

Comfort and homeliness, and plenty of natural light

 Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

A room with a view

Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

The green touch, the natural look.

Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

Tea on the terrace, anyone? 

 Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

To the south: the Pyrenees

Birder’s house for sale in southern France: the photos

Wildlife galore in the grounds and surrounds: a Bee Orchid

Birders house for sale in southern France

House for sale in France

Early retirement gave us the opportunity to pursue our dream of living in France. Tipped off by a French friend I met in Kuala Lumpur, we started our search for somewhere to live in the lovely city of Toulouse.  We would drive into the countryside exploring the surrounding areas and, to cut the story short, after 3 months we started renting a cottage near the town of Lavaur. Just over a year later we moved into the house which has been our home for 15 years. Being nature lovers we had found paradise!

Facing due south, situated at just over 300m, we have a magnificent view over the Agout valley and on clear days on to the Pyrenees. We have almost 1ha of land, with mature oaks and pine trees, a natural habitat for lots of wildlife. Roe deer and wild boar pass through, and we’ve also enjoyed pine martens and red squirrels, bats, lots of birds and wild flowers, particularly wild orchids. It’s a delight to sit on the large deck in spring and listen to the cuckoo, and then a bit later to hear that the Golden Orioles have arrived.  Hen Harriers, buzzards, Short-toed Eagles and kites often fly overhead, and we even saw Griffon Vultures one time. Nuthatches visit the bird tables in winter ,along with the usual robins, tits, etc.  Black Redstarts return in the spring and are a joy to watch, and we have had an occasional Hoopoe.

Now it is time for us to embark on another adventure and we are selling En Mimosa. Conveniently situated in a small community, only 6 kms from the nearest villages with shops, schools, market, Mairie and railway station, for easy access to Toulouse.  With lots of activities locally – golf, riding, etc., walks in the woods straight from the house, it is an ideal holiday location.

Centrally heated accommodation (170 m2) comprises 4 bedrooms, two en-suite, bathroom, fitted kitchen, large double height lounge/diner with wood-burning stove (self-sufficient in wood) and mezzanine. There are covered north and south facing terraces, each room has access to the outside, plus the large deck for entertaining or just sitting soaking up the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings.  We also have a full sized basement (150m2) with windows at one end, suitable as a studio, workshop or garage.

Mary Davis 

For further information please contact us as follows:-

En Mimosa


81220 Damiatte


+33 563421528

Mary and Clive in the Pyrenees

* Steve’s note: Mary and Clive are long-standing clients of Birding In Spain, and we wish them all the best in their new life venture.

First International Meeting on Raptor Conservation, Photography and Responsible Tourism

At Montsonís

International meeting on Raptor Conservation at Montsonís

The First International Meeting on Raptor Conservation, Photography and Responsible Tourism was held at Montsonís, Catalonia, between the 16th and 19th March 2015. For a first of its kind it was undoubtedly a resounding success.

First International Meeting on Raptor Conservation, Photography and Responsible Tourism

The meeting itself was held at Montsonís castle and reception area on Thursday 19th March, and featured talks by photography and nature tourism wizard Staffan Widstrand from Sweden, Norwegian photographer and nature entrepreneur Espen Lie Dahl, and two Catalan raptor researchers, Joan Real from the University of Barcelona and Àngel Bonada of the Lammergeier Research and Study Group.

Among the rapt audience were representatives from the Generalitat de Catalunya, Diputació de Lleida, local mayors, barons of L’Albi, members of La Sabina, the organizers, and others. The baron and baroness very kindly contributed to the act by allowing it to take place in their home, the castle of Montsonís.

During the two days leading up to the meeting, special guests made good use of different raptor photography hides. The invitees included bird and wildlife tour operators from the UK, the editor of the digital magazine Wild Planet Photo Magazine, a photo tour operator from Slovenia, and the sales representative from a major camera and optics retailer in the UK. In the course of their visits they enjoyed encounters with birds such as Goshawk, Lammergeier, Bonelli’s Eagle, Wallcreeper, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Red Kite, Black Kite, White Stork and more.

La Sabina’s reason for organizing the meeting was to promote good practices in development and promotion of nature tourism products, especially raptor photography, as well as to involve the local community and administrations by demonstrating the benefits of this kind of tourism for the environment and the local economy.

First International Meeting on Raptor Conservation, Photography and Responsible Tourism

According to speaker Staffan Widstrand the number of people enjoying nature tourism in the USA is greater than the sum of sports fishermen and hunters, and nature-oriented tourism is growing rapidly in other countries too.

Biased about birding in Navarra

I’m biased about birding in Navarra, it’s true…


Birding in Navarra: The Bardenas Reales

 The Bardenas Reales 

… and perhaps that’s a good enough reason for me to answer the question put to me recently “Where would you go birding in Navarra?”

Navarra is a small part of Spain, and to give you a very rough idea it houses the westernmost parts of the Pyrenees and the Ebro valley.  I lead birding tours to Navarra and quite surprisingly those birding tours haven’t been fully booked for the last two years. If after reading this short piece you are half as surprised as I am at this situation then I’ll be satisfied. 

In my mind’s eye I can draw a line transect from the Bardenas in the south of Navarra to the Pyrenees in the north. Now the remarkable thing revealed by such an exercise is that the drive between one and the other can be done in less than two hours and takes me from sun-baked dusty plains, past gorges and lakes, to lush deciduous forest and snow-covered peaks.

The Bardenas Reales, when not being used for military manouevres, is an excellent place to concentrate a patient search for larks (personally I’ve seen 7 species here, including the much-vaunted Dupont’s Lark), as well as both species of European sandgrouse. With a bit of luck you could also expect Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler, and a few species of raptor at least.

Birding in Navarra: Pitillas lagoon, an inland lake good for birds.

Birding at Pitillas lagoon 

The second point on my carefully-selected transect would be Pitillas lagoon.  Once away from the road one of the most striking things about Pitillas is its placid, scenic setting. I often feel that this is one of those places where the birds now and then take second place to the sensation of just being there, especially if the sun is shining, as it should be. Of course there are interesting birds: the sheer din kicked up by singing Skylarks and Calandra Larks is at times overbearing; small parties of Bearded Reedlings often ping enough to attract my attention to the surrounding reedbeds; then on or next to the water itself I would expect to find a good variety of water birds, including Red Crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Purple Heron, ducks and a few waders perhaps.

Leaving Pitillas but before going too far I would set my sights on birding through a patch of Mediterranean scrub: this is often good for warblers like Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Cirl Buntings, Quails in the cereal fields, and maybe a Woodchat Shrike or two, a hovering Short-toed Eagle and the music of the lonely-sounding Woodlark.

Then comes Lumbier gorge. Easy birding on a flat, level walk with the promise of views of Red-billed Chough, Rock Sparrow, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and plenty of Griffon Vultures at very close range; in the winter months there is always the lure of looking for, and hopefully finding, a Wallcreeper.

Birding in Navarra: Enjoy birding the Pyrenees of Spain and France

The Pyrenees are green green green in June

The Pyrenees now beckon, and probably with two main bird departments in mind: alpine species and woodpeckers. At the forefront of the former are species such as Lammergeier, Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch, Ring Ouzel and possibly even Snowfinch; for the latter I’d be very content to see Wryneck and both Black Woodpecker and the rare White-backed Woodpecker on the same trip.

Then for a fuller picture of the naturalist in Navarra I really should mention Great and Little Bustard on the plains, the meanders and gallery woodland of the lowland rivers, tributaries of the River Ebro, and the 50 species of butterflies we casually identified on our Ornitholidays tour last year, and without trying too hard. Hopefully it won’t be necessary to go into that kind of detail just yet, because I’m sure you already have the idea.

Sunday birding? Give it a rest!

 Sunday birding? Give it a rest!

Sunday birding? Give it a rest!

February ends and with it the Spanish hunting season is finally over. Now, once again, I should be able to approach a bird-rich lake to the north of Lleida and watch its birds without them flying into each other in a panic to get as far from me as possible. This panic effect is really dramatic in early October at the beginning of the hunting season: one day the Coots are almost eating from your hands and the next they’re cowering behind a reed 2 lakes away from you.

So, it’s a sunny weekend in March, the hunting is over, let the fun begin.

Fun, indeed!

I pulled up beside the lake and stayed in the car, to give the birds a chance to assess the situation as a relatively low risk one. Sure enough, a male Merlin which took off on my arrival returned almost to the same spot before ten minutes had passed. Then the cyclists arrived: just a middle-aged couple, well kitted out of course with all the skin-clasping gear, matching helmets and goggles. They were out for a ride, and rode past me, stopping by the lakeside to take a photo or two. Click, click! Post on Facebook, and off we go again. About 5 minutes later they were on the other side of the lake at the viewing area, inadvertently scaring off the birds they had previously scared to that side. Then to my annoyance they took to circumscribing the lake along non-existing paths.

I moved on to the viewing area myself. Within minutes a family arrived in a car, 3 children and 2 adults jumped out and merrily made a bee-line straight for the most secluded part of the lakeshore. Just as a flock of 120 Common Cranes were coming in to land. I left quickly so as not to hear my own grumbling.

Back on the other side I paused on my way out to gaze at the cranes from inside the car, and within a minute another car passed me, made directly for the cranes, which flew up, and then it just as quickly turned and left the scene. I decided it was time to do the same, but in the other direction. Sunday should be a day of rest.