Language: Bilingual in English and French
With over 420 bird species already observed, Nord–Pas-de-Calais, the northernmost region of France, is not to be outdone by some mroe famous destinations, and is a hot spot for watching birds in France. Because of its geography, the region is located at a crossroads for birds. The Strait of Dover (Pas-de-Calais in French) is a major asset and forms a true funnel for marine species migration.
This guide aims to allow everyone, from beginners to experienced birders, to discover the birds of the region through the description of 38 sites. These sites were selected primarily for their potential but also for their ease of access since they are usually well-equipped for reception of the public. All selected sites offer an almost exhaustive range of what can be observed in the region, whatever the season.
The species described in this publication are those that are subject to interest of ornithologists from all walks of live, and also from all neighboring countries. This also naturally led to the idea to write this book in French and English.
Summary in French:
Avec plus de 420 espèces d’oiseaux déjà observées, le Nord – Pas-de-Calais, région la plus septentrionale de France, n’a rien à envier à certaines destinations réputées, et fait même figure de point chaud pour l’observation des oiseaux en France ! En raison de sa géographie, la région est située à un véritable carrefour pour l’avifaune. Le détroit du Pas-de-Calais est un atout majeur et forme un véritable entonnoir pour les espèces marines en migration.
Ce guide a pour vocation de permettre à tous, des débutants aux ornithologues confirmés, de découvrir les oiseaux de la région à travers la description de 38 sites. Ces sites ont été sélectionnés en premier lieu pour leurs potentialités, mais également pour leur facilité d’accès puisqu’ils sont en général aménagés pour l’accueil du public. L’ensemble des sites choisis offre un panel quasiment exhaustif de ce qu’il est possible d’observer dans la région, quelle que soit la saison.
Les espèces ciblées dans cet ouvrage sont celles qui sont sujettes à l’intérêt d’un maximum d’ornithologues, de tous les horizons mais également de tous les pays limitrophes. C’est d’ailleurs de cette façon qu’a naturellement germé l’idée d’écrire ce livre en français et en anglais.
The combined region of Nord – Pas-de-Calais covers an area that is slightly larger than Kent, which is the nearest English county – just 33 km away. It hugs the coast of France from the border with Belgium southwards for about 120 km. It also stretches inland for about 200 km. This book provides details of 38 sites within this area that represent the most interesting birding localities within the region and Quentin Dupriez is well-placed to write this guide given his position as the secretary of the local rarities committee.
The Nord – Pas-de-Calais area has recorded more than 420 species, and in common with so many coastal areas this tally includes a high proportion of passage migrants and vagrants. Just under half of the birds listed are described as being rare or extremely rare visitors. Indeed the peninsula of Cap Gris Nez is on a par with many of our observatories in attracting some great rarities.
Although many of the best birding opportunities occur during periods of migration, this is also an area that supports breeding birds that many of us would like to see nesting just across the water in south-east England. For example, Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Middle-spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina, Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta, Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis, Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla, Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Crested Lark Galerida cristata, Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio and Serin Serinus serinus can all be found with patience.
In addition some of our own breeding birds (such as Common Quail Coturnix coturnix, Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus and Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes) are found here in greater numbers. The seabirding opportunities are slightly different too – with Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus outnumbering Manx Shearwaters Puffinus puffinus on this side of the English Channel.
The book shows a strong bias towards the coast, with 21 of the locations being next to or close to the sea. Of the remainder, most are 75-125 km away to the east between the towns of Béthune, Lille and Valenciennes. All of the available habitat types in the area are covered. Each site is described with precise latitude/longitude co-ordinates to allow you to both find the location with your GPS and view it in advance on Google Earth. The text explains what the route options are and offers pointers to the main species that can be found with your percentage chance of seeing the main targets. There is a map for each site which shows everything from parking options to paths and hides. This book – which has text in both English and French – has clearly been written to appeal to all kinds of birder with different physical abilities. It would dramatically improve anyone’s chances of enjoying a visit to the region.