One of the delights of living in the Gers is that the birdlife here is so rich. This is a consequence of several factors perhaps including low population density, relatively traditional agricultural methods and our proximity to the migratory (migratoir) route of the western Pyrénées.

Keeping an eye out for our feathered friends

It’s a real pleasure to witness (être témoin de) the variation in bird species as different seasons (saisons) come and go and a handful (une poignée) of favourites deserve (mérite) special mention:

Common Nightingale – Rossignol

Luscinia megarhynchos philomèle Photo/info

Anything but common (ordinaire), this small bird arrives in late March and begins to nest in our hedges (haies). It sings at night as if the world will end the next morning. Inspiration for poets and philosophers.

European Nightjar – Engoulevent d’Europe

Caprimulgus europaeus Photo/info

Summer visitor in July and August. Silent in flight (en plein vol). Wing-beating sound resembles a distant two-stroke engine (un moteur à deux temps). Once chased round our courtyard by one of our cats, keeping safely out of reach with agile jumps (sauts) into the air before landing on the ground each time. Entrancing.

Eurasian Golden Oriole – Loriot d’Europe

Oriolus oriolus Photo/info

A summer visitor, the oriole is difficult to spot (apercevoir). Its voice punctuates (ponctuer) every day of late spring and summer like liquid gold.

European Bee-eater – Guêpier d’Europe

Merops apiaster Photo/info

We have seen this bird in the Gers only once and then in a group of perhaps 10. They are sociable and surprisingly noisy (bruyant). Keep up the good work (with the wasps)!

Eurasian Hoopoe – Huppe fasciée

Upupa epops Photo/info

Perhaps our favourite bird, this one lives around us all summer, enjoying being in the courtyard all day long. We’ve lost count of how many times it’s hovered (voltiger) outside windows, looking in at us. Splendid onomatopoeic latin name!

Hen Harrier – Busard Saint-Martin

Circus cyaneus Photo/info

Harry and Harriet. The male is grey with black wing tips (bout de l’aile) and the female brown with a white rump (croupion). The fly low over fields and along hedges.

Western Cattle Egret – Héron garde-boeufs

Bubulcus ibis Photo/info

Only rarely spotted when we first visited southern France, this bird is now resident all year round, no doubt as a consequence of climate change.

Northern Lapwing – Vanneau huppé

Vanellus vanellus Photo/info

A rare winter visitor. This majestic bird arrives in groups with the winter snow. Although it appears to be a black and white bird, its true colours are a feast for the eye (se délecter à regarder).

Keeping an eye out for birds

A definitive list of the birds that we see at or around Trapeharde is difficult to make, but here is a list of the species that we think we see. (Click on the column headings to sort the lists.)

Latin English French
Accipiter nisus Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Épervier d’Europe
Aegithalos caudatus Tit, Long-tailed Mésange à longue queue
Alauda arvensis Skylark, Eurasian Alouette des champs
Alcedo atthis Kingfisher, Common Martin-pêcheur d’Europe
Alectoris rufa Partridge, Red-legged Perdrix rouge
Anas platyrhynchos Mallard Canard colvert
Anthus pratensis Pipit, Meadow Pipit farlouse
Anthus trivialis Pipit, Tree Pipit des arbres
Apus apus Swift, Common Martinet noir
Ardea cinerea Heron, Grey Héron cendré
Asio flammeus Owl, Short-eared Hibou des marais
Asio otus Owl, Long-eared Hibou moyen-duc
Athene noctua Owl, Little Chevêche d’Athéna
Bubulcus ibis Egret, Western Cattle Héron garde-boeufs
Buteo buteo Buzzard, Common Buse variable
Calidris ferruginea Sandpiper, Curlew Bécasseau cocorli
Caprimulgus europaeus Nightjar, European Engoulevent d’Europe
Carduelis cannabina Linnet, Common Linotte mélodieuse
Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch, European Chardonneret élégant
Carduelis spinus Siskin, Eurasian Tarin des aulnes
Certhia familiaris Treecreeper, Eurasian Grimpereau des bois
Circus cyaneus Harrier, Hen Busard Saint-Martin
Coccothraustes coccothraustes Hawfinch Gros-bec casse-noyaux
Columba oenas Dove, Stock Pigeon colombin
Columba palumbus Pigeon, Common Wood Pigeon ramier
Corvus corone Crow, Carrion Corneille noire
Corvus frugilegus Rook Corbeau freux
Coturnix coturnix Quail, Common Caille des blés
Cuculus canorus Cuckoo, Common Coucou gris
Delichon urbica Martin, House Hirondelle de fenêtre
Dendrocopos major Woodpecker, Great Spotted Pic épeiche
Dendrocopos minor Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Pic épeichette
Dryocopus martius Woodpecker, Black Pic noir
Emberiza cirlus Bunting, Cirl Bruant zizi
Emberiza citrinella Yellowhammer Bruant jaune
Erithacus rubecula Robin, European Rougegorge familier
Falco columbarius Merlin Faucon émerillon
Falco peregrinus Falcon, Peregrine Faucon pèlerin
Falco subutteo Hobby Faucon hobereau
Falco tinnunculus Kestrel, Common Faucon crécerelle
Ficedula hypoleuca Flycatcher, European Pied Gobemouche noir
Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch, Common Pinson des arbres
Fringilla montifringilla Brambling Pinson du Nord
Fulica atra Coot, Eurasian Foulque macroule
Gallinula chloropus Moorhen, Common Gallinule poule-d’eau
Garrulus glandarius Jay, Eurasian Geai des chênes
Glareola pratincola Pratincole, Collared Glaréole à collier
Grus grus Crane, Common Grue cendrée
Hieraaetus pennatus Eagle, Booted Aigle botté
Hirundo rustica Swallow, Barn Hirondelle rustique
Lanius excubitor Shrike, Great Grey Pie-grièche grise
Lullula arborea Woodlark Alouette lulu
Luscinia megarhynchos Nightingale, Common Rossignol philomèle
Merops apiaster Bee-eater, European Guêpier d’Europe
Milvus migrans Kite, Black Milan noir
Milvus milvus Kite, Red Milan royal
Motacilla alba Wagtail, White Bergeronnette grise
Motacilla cinerea Wagtail, Grey Bergeronnette des ruisseaux
Muscicapa striata Flycatcher, Spotted Gobemouche gris
Oenanthe leucura Wheatear, Black Traquet rieur
Oriolus oriolus Oriole, Eurasian Golden Loriot d’Europe
Parus major Tit, Great Mésange charbonnière
Passer domesticus Sparrow, House Moineau domestique
Passer montanus Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Moineau friquet
Pernis apivorus Buzzard, European Honey Bondrée apivore
Phalacrocorax aristotelis Shag, European Cormoran huppé
Phalacrocorax carbo Cormorant, Great Grand Cormoran
Phasianus colchicus Pheasant, Common Faisan de Colchide
Phoenicurus ochruros Redstart, Black Rougequeue noir
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff, Common Pouillot véloce
Pica pica Magpie, Eurasian Pie bavarde
Picus viridis Woodpecker, European Green Pic vert
Prunella modularis Dunnock Accenteur mouchet
Pyrrhula pyrrhula Bullfinch, Eurasian Bouvreuil pivoine
Regulus regulus Goldcrest Roitelet huppé
Riparia riparia Martin, Sand Hirondelle de rivage
Saxicola rubetra Whinchat Tarier des prés
Serinus serinus Serin, European Serin cini
Sitta europaea Nuthatch, Eurasian Sittelle torchepot
Streptopelia decaocto Dove, Eurasian Collared Tourterelle turque
Streptopelia turtur Dove, European Turtle Tourterelle des bois
Strix aluco Owl, Tawny Chouette hulotte
Sturnus vulgaris Starling, Common Étourneau sansonnet
Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap, Eurasian Fauvette à tête noire
Sylvia communis Whitethroat, Common Fauvette grisette
Tachybaptus ruficollis Grebe, Little Grèbe castagneux
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren, Eurasian Troglodyte mignon
Turdus merula Blackbird, Common Merle noir
Turdus philomelos Thrush, Song Grive musicienne
Turdus pilaris Fieldfare Grive litorne
Turdus viscivorus Thrush, Mistle Grive draine
Tyto alba Owl, Western Barn Effraie des clochers
Upupa epops Hoopoe, Eurasian Huppe fasciée
Vanellus vanellus Lapwing, Northern Vanneau huppé