Tuesday, 7 May 2013

North to The Gorges of the Cevennes

We decided today that we would go and enjoy the Gorge Jonte and the Causses Mejean in the Cevennes.  Leaving Olonzac we noticed a few Bee-eaters on a dead tree and one or two Rollers taking up their territories in the plane trees by the Canal du Midi between Homps and Capestang.  We pressed on to Millau crossing the amazing Foster designed bridge and made our way to the Gorge Jonte.

Gorge Jonte
After stopping a while to watch an impressive array of Griffon Vultures overhead and a couple of Choughs we moved up a narrow road to the Cause Mejean.  Here we had a fleeting glimpse of a Camberwell Beauty butterfly. We headed first for the amazing open area on the road linking the hamlets of Drigas, Hures, Le Villaret and Nivoliers.  First we had a sumptuous lunch at the Auberge Le Chanet at Nivoliers.  Afterwards we started looking for wildlife.  First we counted 14 Choughs on an unimproved meadow and then went back to Le Villaret to search for Rock Thrushes.  We failed with this species (perhaps they have not arrived yet) but did find plenty of Northern Wheatears and a couple of Tawny Pipits.

Northern Wheatear male
Northern Wheatear female
Looking around us we also admired a wonderful array of Common Pasque Flowers on both sides of the road.

Common Pasque Flower
Pasque Flowers galore
We were standing by the roadside by the Przewalski's Horse enclosure although we only saw four today.  What we did see though was a National Park warden drive up to the top of a hill and put out food for vultures.  Within minutes we watched about 60 Griffon Vultures and 3 Black Vultures tucking in. 

A digiscoped image of the vultures.  Two Blacks to the left of the Griffons.
Moving on we found a Western Bonelli's Warbler and a splendid male Yellowhammer.

Male Yellowhammer
Finally we sat in the Gorge Jonte for a little tea and watched hundreds of Griffon Vultures coming to roost.  We also picked up a Green Woodpecker, 2 Red Kites and a pair of Egyptian Vultures.

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