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About this book
About this book
The Provence is the richest wildlife region of France. Whether you consider the flora and fauna in detail or simply take a broad view of the landscape, every corner of this region is different.
There are the spectacular, bird-filled wetlands of the Camargue, but right next to them lies the arid, almost desert-like plateau of La Crau. Then there are the sizzling hot Mediterranean hillsides and the inviting clear seas of the Cote d'Azur. Just a little inland you can marvel at the fairylike, gnarled beech forests on the north slopes and the flower and butterfly rich subalpine plateaus in the mountains. All of this variety is present within the small region of Provence.
The Crossbill Guide to Provence and Camargue, France describes 25 routes and 20 sites found within the region. The book is complemented with extensive chapters on landscape, geology, history, descriptions of the flora and fauna and tips to observe wildlife.
Customer Reviews (1)
28 Oct 2020
Written for Paperback
Ardent fans of Crossbill Guides will recall that they created a book on the Camargue in 2006. That has been long out of print, and this book updates the coverage in that while adding many other sites further east in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur – in the far south-eastern corner of France. Getting to this area has never been easier, with daily flights from many UK airports and prices as low as £65 return to either Marseilles (for the Carmargue) or Nice (for the mountains further east). Indeed a trip entering via one airport and departing from the other is clearly an option. For those preferring to take a train, there are services from the UK to either of these cities.
Although the region does not host any endemic bird species there are plenty of plants and insects that are hard to find elsewhere, including 160 species of butterfly and 60 species of dragonfly or damselfly. Over 100 mammals include 25 bat species, and in addition, there are over 30 species of amphibian and reptile, and 1700 plants. In total around 240 species of bird can be found across the region in Spring, although a birding trip of a week around the Carmargue is only likely to record around 150 of those, increasing to maybe 200 if the wider region is explored.
Crossbill Guides all follow the same basic layout. Firstly, the landscape and local history are described, including the impacts on nature conservation. Each of the main ecosystems is explored, along with geological features that affect wildlife. The next section deals with the species that can be encountered – flora, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. The final section describes 10 areas around the Carmargue that can be explored on foot or by car. These include the steppe area of La Crau and mountains of Les Alpilles in addition to the marshes. In each case, a precise GPS reference is given for a starting point, after which you need to follow the instruction carefully. My advice is to check the route carefully in advance using Google Earth so that you can note other particular GPS points you may want to stop at. There are then an additional seven main sites in the Côte d'Azur and four in Haute Provence plus a range of smaller extra sites for interest. For all of these locations, there are basic maps showing the route and suggested stopping points. Rather than focus on the bird interest, the Crossbill Guides are always quick to point out all wildlife in the area.
This book is illustrated throughout with colour photographs. There are also checklists highlighting the main species for most taxa, and lists of other useful facts that any visitor would want to know. As usual Crossbill Guides have produced an excellent book that covers everything you need as a travelling naturalist and puts responsible tourism at the centre of all that it promotes.
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Dirk Hilbers (born The Netherlands, 1976), set up the Crossbill Guides Foundation and travels Europe to research the guidebooks. This is the 26th guide he has worked on. When not in the field, Dirk Hilbers is a lecturer of environmental ethics at the University of Amsterdam.
Constant Swinkels (born The Netherlands, 1995), now finalizing his master degree in ecology, has been a naturalist from the moment he was able to hold a pair of binoculars. His interests are broad – from birds to wildflowers and butterflies to reptiles. Constant specialises in vegetation ecology and co-authored the routes, the bird section and the ecological chapters of this book.
Albert Vliegenthart (born The Netherlands, 1975) works at `De Vlinderstichting' – the Dutch butterfly conservancy and is a butterfly and dragonfly specialist, as well as being a keen birdwatcher. Albert has co-authored the routes and contributed to the insect and bird sections of this book.