Returning home from Spain, we spent two days at Arcachon, near Bordeaux, mainly to visit Le Teich, a major nature reserve on the Bassin d’Arcachon. One of the largest and best reserves to be open to the public in France, it doesn’t disappoint. Similar in many ways to the Marquenterre, well known to many ‘Channel’ birders, it’s maybe better as there is no ‘wildfowl park’ at the start of the trail. Approximately 80 species breed on the reserve, with 260+ recorded there.
Spoonbills on La Vasieres des Spatules, Le Teich reserve
We used a single source of reference, A BIRDWATCHING GUIDE TO FRANCE, South of the Loire including Corsica. J. Crozier, Arlequin Press, published 2000.
The sites are referenced as in the above guide, page 23; Area 9, Bassin d’Arcachon.
Site 1 Teich Bird Reserve
Site 2 Domaine de Certes salt-works and coastal trail.
We also visited briefly the large inland lake to the south, Etang de Cazaux, via the coastal road D218 south of Arcachon, and Ares, on the north side of the bay, page 45 site 3, for the small wader roost. We didn’t explore the nature reserve here, it didn’t look too promising, with lots of people and litter.
La Vasiere des Spatules, Le Teich reserve
Site 1 Le Teich Bird Reserve.
A trail leads from the centre to the coast and back, 5kms, taking in no less than twenty hides and four observational viewpoints – a full day out giving close views of the birds. It takes in brackish and fresh water, reedbeds and woodland. For those with youngsters in tow it is excellent, near the entrance there’s a short trail, 2kms, [ part of the longer trail ] with three hides and two observation points with toilets halfway round – they’ll be amazed at the close views of nesting White Storks.
The trail map in the reference book is out of date.
The centre itself has a nice shop, a restaurant and toilets. You get a map with the entrance fee, and tide times are displayed there.
The reserve is open 365 days of the year, and there is ample parking. For times and prices check;
Le Grand Large, Le Teich Reserve. A good place for Whiskered Terns and Little Gulls
Site 2 Domain de Certes, Audenge.
A protected area of old saltpans, with a good coastal trail [page 43]. The pans are old and virtually all fresh water now, but some are shallow enough for waders, terns, gulls and egrets, also views over the coastal mudflats.
Both sites look good for odonata at the appropriate time of year.Nick Ransdale
1. Great Northern Diver - 2 breeding-plumaged adults Etang de Cadaux 27/4; getting late for these scarce migrants.
2. Great Crested Grebe - 3. Cormorant - Large breeding colony.
4. Little Egret - A few pairs nesting amongst the Cormorants, many more seen throughout.
5. Great White Egret - 1 on reserve, 2 Audenge.
6. Grey Heron - Breeding.
7. White Stork - Many pairs nesting, in trees and on platforms.
8. Spoonbill - 14 on the reserve. All presumably Dutch birds, most were ringed.
9. Mute Swan - 10+.
10. [Black Swan] - 2 Audenge.
11. [Greylag Goose] - c50 reserve. Large feral flock.
12 [Canada Goose] - 1
13. Shelduck - 30+ reserve.
14. Gadwall - 1 male reserve.
15. Teal - 4 reserve.
16. Mallard -
17. Pintail - 3 Audenge.
18. Shoveler - 6+ reserve.
19. Pochard - 5 reserve.
Black Kite on La Vasiere des Spatules, Le Teich reserve.
20. Black Kite - 30+ reserve and a common breeder in the area.
21. Short-toed Eagle - 2 Audenge.
22. Marsh Harrier - 1 female reserve, 1 male Audenge.
23. Buzzard - 2 Audenge.
24. Kestrel - 1 Audenge.
25. Coot - 3 Audenge.
26. Oystercatcher - c8 coast south of Arcachon.
27. Little Ringed Plover - 2 [pair] reserve.
28. Ringed Plover - 1 reserve.
29. Sanderling - 24 along coast south of Arcachon.
30. Little Stint - 6 reserve.
31. Dunlin - 150+ roosting on reserve over high-tide, c20 along coast south of Arcachon.
32. Bar-tailed Godwit - c30 Ares saltings.
33. Whimbrel - 1 reserve, 300+ Ares saltings.
34. Spotted Redshank - 4 Audenge.
35. Redshank - 15+ reserve, c50 Ares saltings.
36. Greenshank - c20 reserve, c30 Audenge and Ares.
37. Common Sandpiper - c4 reserve, 2 Audenge.
38. Little Gull - 2, 1 ad, 1 1st -winter on reserve. -
White Stork on La Vasiere des Spatules, Le Teich reserve
39. Black-headed Gull - 120+ reserve.
40. Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2, 1 ad, 1 2nd-year on reserve.
41. Yellow-legged Gull - 150+ reserve.
42. Great Black-backed Gull - 4, 1 ad, 3 imms reserve.
43. Sandwich Tern - c90 Arcachon and the coast south.
44. Whiskered Tern - 4 reserve.
45. Feral Pigeon
46. Wood Pigeon
47. Collared Dove
48. Cuckoo - 2-3 reserve.
50. Hoopoe - 3+ reserve.
51. Wryneck - 1 reserve.
52. Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2+ reserve.
54. Blue-headed Wagtail - 3+ reserve. 1 Audenge.
55. White Wagtail
58. Nightingale - Very common breeder.
59. Bluethroat - c4 on reserve, also Audenge.
60. Black Redstart
61. Wheatear - 2 Audenge.
63. Song Thrush
64. Cetti’s Warbler - Common breeder throughout.
65. Zitting Cisticola - 6+ reserve, also Audenge, etc.
66. Reed Warbler - 4+ reserve, 10+ Audenge.
67. Melodious Warbler - 1 Audenge.
68. Whitethroat - 6+ Audenge.
71. Firecrest - Several singing males reserve.
72. Long-tailed Tit
73. Blue Tit
74. Great Tit
77. Carrion Crow
79. House Sparrow