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62Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryThe Cévennes is a spectacularmountainous area on the south-eastern edge of the Massif Central.Delightfully unspoilt, its wonderful variety ofscenery and habitats provide a specialcombination for the naturalist and walker.From our base for this holiday - a smalland friendly hotel in the attractive littlevillage of Cocurès, close to Florac, theadministrative centre of the CévennesNational Park - we will make full use ofthe region's excellent trails as we searchfor the wealth of natural history and, inparticular on this holiday, the wealth ofbutterflies to be found here. Fuelled by thedelicious meals served at our hotel, andour famous French picnic lunches, we (asalways!) intend to enjoy ourselves.The high granite peaks of Mont Lozère(1,699 metres) and Mont Aigoual (1,567metres) contrast with the surroundinglimestone and schist areas, all providing arich diversity of habitat within a relativelysmall area. Pine and deciduous forests,upland pasture, marshy wetlands, drylimestone plateaux with grassland androcks, flower-filled meadows, and deepgorges with cliffs and fast-flowing rivers,will all be explored during our stay. Furtherdiversity, created by the variety of climate,aspect, rainfall, soil and altitude,encourages an extremely rich flora,especially of orchids, which attracts anabundance of insects. In particular, there isa very good variety of butterflies, and up to70 or 80 species are possible during ourweek's stay.In the heart of the region lies the Cornichedes Cévennes, a 50-kilometre ridge with aroad along it that gives wide views over thenational park and the Causses. On ourwalks here we should find a wealth ofbutterfly species, among them Purple-shotCopper, Scarce and Common Swallowtails,Berger's Clouded Yellow, Large WallBrown, numerous fritillaries, and bluessuch as Escher's, Adonis and Baton. Wemay also find Green-winged, Burnt-tip,Elder-flowered, Lady, Military, Monkey andFrog Orchids, and birds such as Golden,Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Red Kite,Woodlark and Tree Pipit. Just to the west of Florac, the River Tarn has carved a deep and spectaculargorge through the limestone, the cliffsbeing a haven for Eagle Owl, Peregrine,Chough, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin andBlue Rock Thrush. Butterflies areparticularly numerous here, with Cleopatra, Blue-spot, Sloe, Ilex and Green Hairstreaks, Provençal, Twin-spotand Marbled Fritillaries, and Chequeredand Osiris Blues all likely, while on thenearby Causse Méjean we'll look for the extremely localised Esper's Marbled White. These limestone rocks are alsohome to many interesting plants, amongthem Rock Soapwort, St. Bernard's Lily, the endemic Cévennes Saxifrage andMalling Toadflax, and a colony of Lady'sSlipper Orchid.On the underlying granite of Mont Lozèrewe find a good acid flora, including thestriking yellow of Piorno Broom, abundantblue Mountain Pansy, Alpine Clover andSpring Pasque Flower. The damp flushesbeneath the summit are excellent forbutterflies, with Large Tortoiseshell,Camberwell Beauty, Purple-edged andSooty Coppers, Chestnut Heath, and Pearl-bordered, High Brown and Weaver'sFritillaries often seen. This area is alsofavoured by birds of prey, and these mayinclude Montagu's and Hen Harrier, Merlinand Goshawk, with Rock Bunting, WaterPipit, Black Redstart, Crossbill and CrestedTit also present.We will visit the extensive limestoneplateaux, with the Causse Noir, a superbpatchwork of pine woods, grasslands andsmall arable fields, a good example.Butterflies are numerous here with Rock,Woodland and Great-banded Graylings,Black-veined White, White and SouthernWhite Admirals, fritillaries, skippers andscarce blues such as Chapman's andMountain Alcon, just some of the speciesexpected! Colourful plants, too, areeverywhere, with Aphyllanthes, Globularia,orchids, rockroses, and Yellow, Blue andWhite Flax creating a wonderful tapestry.Overlooking the Gorge de la Jonte, this isalso a good place to see magnificentGriffon Vultures at close quarters as theyglide along the cliff-top - evidence of ahighly successful re-introductionprogramme in the early 1990s.Finally, we'll drive to the pastures at the top of the forested Mont Aigoual. Here weshould find such alpine butterflies asMountain, Bright-eyed, Piedmont andOttoman Brassy Ringlet, as well as suchother species as Dusky Heath and Niobe,High Brown and Glanville Fritillaries in thevicinity. Sheets of yellow tulips, LargeYellow Gentian, Aconite-leaved Buttercupand Martagon Lily all provide botanicalinterest, while Red-backed and Great Grey Shrikes, Rock and Ortolan Buntingsare among the avian highlights. Like all the sites in the Cévennes, this isn't a place where the naturalist may easilybecome bored!France - Butterflies ofthe CévennesAn 8-day holiday in search of the wealth of butterflies, and other natural history, to be found in the south-eastern corner of the Massif Central.Thursday 6th June - Thursday 13th June Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Montpellier anddrive to Cocurès.Day 2/7Excursions on foot insearch of butterflies andother natural history ofthe Cévennes.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA pleasant and traditional villagehotel, with private facilities, servingfine local food.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. Gentle day walks only.Focus Butterflies, plus other naturalhistory.LeaderMark Galliott. Single room supplement£165.Web quick search: FRA02SPAINITALYSWITZERLANDGERMANYBELGIUMPARISTOULOUSEBORDEAUXFRENCHALPSSTRASBOURGENGLISH CHANNELATLANTIC OCEANMEDITERRANEANSEAFRANCECÉVENNESCOCURÈSMONTPELLIER10% DONATIONTOMazarine BlueBerger's Clouded YellowProvençal Fritillary

The Pyrenees, that great barrierbetween France and Spain whichrises to well over 3,000 metres andstretches for 450 kilometres from theblustery Atlantic to the sun-drenchedMediterranean, offers a scenic and cultural variety unmatched by otherEuropean mountain ranges. Its westernextremities and north-facing -French-slopes are largely wet, lush and green. Itssouthern- Spanish-slopes, and thosein the east-the Catalan-speaking FrenchRoussillon-are hot, dry and craggy, andcarved by spectacular canyons. Naturally,such very different landscapes, and theclimates that have fashioned them, providefor a very diverse flora and fauna.On this holiday we will be exploring theParc National des Pyrénées, situated in thehigh central region of the French Pyrenees.These north-facing slopes, closer to theAtlantic than the Mediterranean, are wet,green and well forested; in early summertheir highest slopes remain snow-covered.Here, the high Pyrenean bird and mammalspecialities are to be found amongst themost spectacular scenery; and the monthof June, just before the hay is cut, is thebest time to enjoy the wonderful flowering meadows of the Pyrenees, and their richbutterfly-life. Our base, throughout ourstay, will be a pleasant country hotel in thequiet village of Gèdre. Situated at just over1,000 metres, and a short drive from themagnificent Cirque de Gavarnie, Gèdre isan ideal base from which to explore the fullspectrum of Pyrenean habitats during dailywalking excursions. The Cirque de Gavarnie, with its highforests, alpine meadows and spectacularwaterfalls, will be the focus of our attentionfor a number of days. Its steep slopes, andsurrounding high peaks and passes offerfine walking and the best of high Pyreneanbirds and flowers. On the bleak andcraggy Port de Gavarnie, perched high onthe Spanish border above the canyons ofthe Ordessa National Park, we will look forSnowfinches and Alpine Accentors thatfeed around the melting snow. Chamois,too, are to be found grazing the uplandmeadows. In the valleys we should findCitril Finches, Black Redstarts, Choughsand Alpine Choughs, whilst overhead flyGolden Eagles, Lammergeiers and GriffonVultures. High cliffs will receive particularattention, for on these we will always havea chance of finding that most elusive of allPyrenean birds, the Wallcreeper.The tranquil and airy Cirque deTroumouse, high above the tree-line, is quite as beautiful. Less well known thanGavarnie, its relative peace and quietmakes it a haven for mammals such asMarmots, Chamois and Foxes, and it is afine hunting ground for birds of prey. Smallpools, streams and boulder-strewn slopespresent a different environment in which tohunt for alpine plants.At lower altitudes we will explore some ofthe many lakes and reservoirs. Here thewaterside meadows are a botanist'sparadise, and numerous species ofbutterfly proliferate in a pesticide-freeenvironment. Lower still, in the ancientconifer forests, we will search for theelusive Black Woodpecker, and for suchgems as Firecrest and Bonelli's Warbler.Wherever we go, the skies between thegreat peaks must not be ignored, for anexcellent variety of birds of prey breed inthe Pyrenees. Besides those morecommon species already mentioned,Booted and Bonelli's Eagles, Buzzards,Goshawks and Peregrines may all be seen with a little luck.This holiday, taking in the broad range ofPyrenean natural history, and offering awide variety and choice of walkingexcursions, should suit a broad range ofinterests and abilities. We will also hope tomake the most of the local cuisine andliquid refreshments! The French PyreneesAn 8-day holiday of birdwatching and botanical walks in the high Pyrenees.Saturday 8th June - Saturday 15th June Cost: £1,295Saturday 7th September - Saturday 14th September Cost: £1,295(Focus in September: Walking, birds, plants and other natural history)Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationJACAPYRENEESGAVARNIEGÈDREPAUTOULOUSEBORDEAUXANDORRABILBAOMADRIDFRANCESPAINOutline itineraryDay 1Fly to Pau or Lourdesand then drive to Gèdre.Day 2/7 Walking excursions inthe Parc National desPyrénées.Day 8 Return London.AccommodationA delightful family-run hotel, allrooms with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade B. Day walks only. FocusBirds, plants, mammals andbutterflies (June). Birds, plants,walking and natural history(September).LeadersDavid Tattersfield or Mark Galliott(botanist) and David Morris(ornithologist).Single room supplement £180. ExtensionsEasily arranged in the French orSpanish Pyrenees, with or withoutcar rental.Web quick search: FRA2063LiliumpyrenaicumLammergeierThe Cirque de Gavarnie