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The Camargue, that vast wetlandwhich lies within the arms of theRhône Delta, conjures up romanticimages of wild white horses and blackfighting bulls, gypsy festivals and the bestolives in the world. It is also France's(perhaps even Europe's) premier dragonflysite where, in July, we may hope to seeover 30 species, most of them not seen inBritain. If you seek to be inspired bydragonflies, this is the trip for you, bothwith the sheer numbers and brilliance ofthe species that we should see. However,the region is better known to naturalists for its birdlife, and we will not neglect thisaspect of the natural world during ourdragonfly-quest, enjoying the Camargue'slarge breeding population of GreaterFlamingoes, abundant herons, egrets and storks, and healthy population ofraptors such as kites, vultures and the rare Bonelli's Eagle. We will make shortexcursions to the limestone hills of LesAlpilles in search of Eagle Owls and alsoto the bizarre pebbly landscape of LaCrau, not only to watch sandgrouse andLesser Kestrels, but also to enjoy the topdragonfly river flowing through it. Indeed,we offer the opportunity to understand and enjoy at first hand the quintessentiallyMediterranean habitats of the garrigue andmaquis and their associated wildlife.We begin our holiday with an excitingexploration of Les Marais du Vigueirat, a large wetland nature reserve, in searchof Orange-spotted Emeralds, Green-eyedHawkers and Goblet Damselflies. Specialpermits will allow us to venture further intothe reserve than the general public, wherewe will spend the day wandering throughmarshes, woodland, open dry meadowsand along disused canals; as well aslooking for dragonflies, we will enjoy alarge colony of egrets and heronscomprising eight different species. Onanother day we will visit the saline lakeswhere the Greater Flamingoes breed,amongst them such other wetland speciesas Whiskered Tern, Slender-billed Gull and Kentish Plover before focusing on the canal in the Vallée des Baux where at least 15 species of dragonfly may be found in just a small area,including Southern Skimmers and WhiteFeatherleg. If conditions are right we willalso make a trip to watch swarms ofdragonflies coming in to roost in reedbeds before sunset, and to watchDusk Hawkers.Our fourth day will start early to ensurethat we see the best of the wildlife, initially focusing on the habitat of drygarrigue and olive groves where Short-toed Eagles, exquisite Rollers, and variousbutterflies and Ant Lions may be found.Later we will search a marshy area for thedelicate Banded Darter and then head intothe limestone hills to observe Alpine Swiftand Crag Martins, and to look for breedingEgyptian Vultures in Les Alpilles. Viewsfrom the easily accessible summit at LaCaume provide amazing sunsetpanoramas.On other days we will visit a Bee-eatercolony which feasts largely on dragonflies(most probably including Red-veinedDarters and Scarlet Dragonflies), enjoybreeding Collared Pratincoles, and checkout the rice fields for tree frogs, variousdarters, Lesser Emperor and Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly. At Saintes Maries de-la-Mer we will hope for such summerimmigrants as Vagrant Emperor or largeswarms of more widespread species, whilst the coastal dunes provide yetanother contrasting habitat for both insectsand flowers. We will also visit the wetlandsof La Maison du Parc and the Mas d'AgonObservation Point and rice fields.Finally we will explore La Crau, a pebblydesert full of life! Here, strange insectssuch as the enormous bright green Sagapedo, fairy-like ascalapids, praying mantisand bush crickets may all be found, plusbird species such as Hoopoe, LesserKestrel, Calandra Lark and Great GreyShrike. The Peau de Meau River attractsan incredible number of dragonfly species;Blue-eyed Hooktails pose to bephotographed on rocks whilst Yellow-tailedand Copper Demoiselles engage incourtship displays and Southern BlueSkimmers compete for airspace.We will revisit La Crau on our last day,before returning to the airport, in search ofyet more dragonflies, and we will also visita nearby lake to look for OrangeFeatherlegs and other species. An action-packed end to a rich and varied holiday! Dragonflies & Birds of the CamargueAn exciting 8-day exploration of the wetlands of Provence (as well as the nearbystony desert of La Crau and the limestone hills of Les Alpilles), one of Europe'spremier dragonfly destinations, in search of both dragonflies and birds.Wednesday 10th July - Wednesday 17th July Cost: £1,295Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationSPAIN ITALY SWITZERLAND GERMANY BELGIUM PARIS CAMARGUEARLESTOULOUSE MONTPELLIERBORDEAUX FRENCH ALPS STRASBOURG ENGLISH CHANNELATLANTIC OCEAN MEDITERRANEANSEAFRANCE Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Montpellier andtransfer to Arles.Day 2/7Dragonfly/birdingexcursions from Arles.Day 8Fly UK.Accommodation Comfortable hotel serving goodlocal food, all rooms with privatefacilities.Food All included in the price. GradingA. Day walks only.Focus Dragonflies, birds andMediterranean natural history.LeaderDave Smallshire.Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: FRA0567Onychogomphus forcipatusOrthetrum brunneumGreater FlamingoesLes Alpilles

The predominantly rural departmentsof Calvados and Manche, located inNormandy on the north-west coast ofFrance, are easily accessed via thenumerous ferry services running betweenEngland and the French ports of Cherbourgand Caen, yet are surprisingly little visitedby British, or indeed any other naturalists.The region has an attractive and variedpastoral landscape, often likened tosouthern England, though much moreunspoiled, and retains an abundance ofbirds, plants and butterflies long since lostfrom the English counties. Small, flower-richmeadows grazed by Normandy cattledominate the rolling landscape, and thereare numerous orchards, marshes, heaths,bogs and ponds. To the south lie some vastwoodlands, whilst in the north a beautifulcoastline, rugged in places, offers extensiveareas of coastal dune grassland,interspersed by picturesque fishing villages.Interestingly, Normandy supports a richbutterfly fauna, with around 160 species(more than twice the number recorded inBritain!), and a remarkable wealth of otherwildlife, set in tranquil surroundings. Toexplore the region, and enjoy thesebutterflies, we cross the Channel from Pooleto Cherbourg, and drive to our base for thisholiday, a pleasant hotel on the coast in thehistoric town of Arromanches. Famed for itsworld-famous tapestry, nearby Bayeux iscentral to our entomological destinationsand is within a short drive of our hotel.On our first full day in Normandy we headwest, perhaps stopping at suitable oldmeadow localities to look for Sooty Copperswhich can be abundant at this time of year.En route, as we drive through the CotentinRegional Nature Park (one of the largest andmost important wetlands in Europe), wekeep a watchful eye out for White Storks, ofwhich more than 50 pairs now breed inNormandy, and Marsh Harriers. Along themany roadside hedgerows and flower-richverges, we take a special interest in anywhites we may see, as Wood Whites (thesecond brood of which is now on the wing)are locally common in this part of Normandy.However, our main focus today is the area ofwet heaths, bogs and pine forests aroundLessay, at the base of the CotentinPeninsula. Here we will spend the whole dayexploring numerous tracks through thisimportant heathland region, searching for anumber of butterfly specialities. LargeChequered Skippers are common, andSilver-studded Blues abundant, but our maintarget species is the globally threatenedAlcon Blue, which is the subject of specialconservation management in the area. Otherspecies present include Sooty Copper,Purple and Ilex Hairstreaks, Dark GreenFritillary and Grayling. The shady pineforests are less attractive to butterflies, butwe can expect to see Crested Tits amongstthe evergreen foliage and, with luck, HoneyBuzzards overhead. The area is importantbotanically and supports a large populationof the orchid Summer Lady's Tresses,together with Heath Lobelia, Bog Rosemaryand of course, Marsh Gentian, the food-plant of the Alcon Blue.Our objective for the second day will bethe large, state-owned Forest of Cerisy.This forest is dominated by beech, andcontains a variety of other habitatsincluding old meadows and calcareousmire, the latter supporting importantpopulations of Marsh Fritillary. We willspend a full day exploring the network ofrides which criss-cross the forest, lookingfor both grassland and woodlandbutterflies and moths. A very good varietyof butterflies are found in the wood at thistime of year including Camberwell Beauty,Ilex Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak,Map butterfly, Silver-washed Fritillary,Clouded Yellow and possibly the last of theyear's Lesser Purple Emperors. This large,secluded woodland supports a wide rangeof other wildlife including Wild Boar, PineMarten, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk,Nightjar, Black Woodpecker, MiddleSpotted Woodpecker, Melodious Warblerand Firecrest.Finally we head south, to Les Montsd'Eraines, an area of undulating limestonehills between Caen and Falaise, thebirthplace of William the Conqueror. Thearea comprises a mixture of scrub,limestone grassland and woodland, part ofwhich has been designated a naturereserve. This is one of the most importantlimestone grassland sites in Normandy, andmarks the north-west limit of this habitattype in France. During the day we will scourthe botanically-rich slopes for butterfliessuch as Chalkhill Blue and ScarceSwallowtail, and also the regionally rareFaust's Burnet Moth. This leisurely day willgive us ample time to search for otherinsect-life, including Jersey Tiger Moth andStag Beetle and a whole host of scarceplants such as Large-flowered Self-heal,Chiltern Gentian, St. Lucie's Cherry,Mountain Germander, plus a number of trueorchids and helleborines. Birdlife on theslopes will be quiet at this time of year,although we may possibly see Cirl Buntingswhich occur commonly in the region. At the end of our holiday we return toCherbourg to catch the Poole ferry, thusconcluding a remarkably varied five daysin a corner of France which richly deservesa higher profile as an excellent naturalhistory destination. France - Butterflies in NormandyA 5-day tour, with travel by ferry, to enjoy the many delights of the Normandy region of France, but most especially its excellent variety of butterflies.Thursday 11th July - Monday 15th July Cost: £795Outline itineraryDay 1Sail Poole-Cherbourg;transfer to hotel atArromanches for 4-nightstay.Day 2/4Exploration of Lessay,the Forest of Cerisy andLes Monts d'Erainesfrom our base atArromanches.Day 5Drive Cherbourg; sailPoole.AccommodationA pleasant seaside hotel atArromanches, with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy day walks.FocusButterflies; plus other aspects ofnatural history, and the scenic andgastronomic delights of Normandy.LeaderTom Brereton or Gerald Broddelez.Single room supplement£105.Web quick search: FRA0168Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryFRANCEBAIE DE LA SEINEENGLISH CHANNELBRITTANYNORMANDYLES MONTS D'ERAINESCHERBOURGFORESTOF CERISYARROMANCHESLESSAYCHANNELISLANDSNormandy coastline10% DONATIONTODark GreenFritillarySooty Copper