In collaboration with Philippe, a Belgian who emigrated to beautiful France, I would like to draw your attention to some great new hides for bird photography in an exceptionally beautiful landscape and species rich environment. The setup is similar to the already known hides in Kalmthout: 6 different photo hides were built on private property and each hide differs in setup and target species. I will introduce them to you below.
Location: Granès, Departement Aude - SE-France
In the middle of the department of Aude, known for the highest biodiversity in all of France, is a beautiful private domain with lots of birds (and much more). On this private property there are 5 photo hides for bird photography and about 20 km away, on the Sault plateau, a very promising 6th location is currently being tested (ready in spring 2020).
The region, situated between Carcassonne and Perpignan, is easily accessible by car, train or plane (Ryanair flies at several locations nearby). You can spend the night in one of the many B & B's, campsites or hotels in the region (check out the village of Quillan). The photo hides are suitable as a separate, multi-day travel destination or as a day trip from the surroundings (e.g. during a family holiday).
Hides and target species
Take some time to go through the slideshow below. All images were made on the spot by Philippe and for each image the hide (affût in French) is mentioned.
Hide 1 is specialized in vultures and birds of prey, but of course many other species are to be expected. Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and frequently also Bearded Vulture can be photographed flying by. Both Red and Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Kestrel, Buzzard, Honey Buzzard etc... are all possible. Because of its location right on a protruding rock, beautiful flight shots can be made.
Hide 2 is a classic photo hide with a drinking pool where, depending on the season, a great diversity of species is to be expected. Among them a lot of striking and beautifully coloured species such as Hoopoe, Red-backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Serin, Goldfinch, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker (sharpei-subspecies), Black Woodpecker etc....
Hide 3 is a hide situated in an open, flowery meadow adjacent to a forest edge of holm oaks. It is partly excavated so that you get a nice, low point of view. Also here you have a chance to see the different species of vultures at a feeding station. Portraits and action images are both possible. Red and Black Kite, Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Roe Deer, Red Fox and many others are some of the target species at this location.
Hide 4 is a very special hide, near hide 1, and especially suitable for keen photographers who want to capture the vultures from an extreme point of view and incredibly close (bring your wide angle!).
Hide 5 is new since 2019 and has the potential to become the most species-rich hide with the chance of a combination of vultures, birds of prey, mammals and forest birds in a beautiful setting.
Hide 6 takes up the challenge to get even more difficult species in front of the lens and is located on the plateau of Sault. From a purely photographic point of view, this hide offers perhaps the most versatile possibilities: birds, mammals and landscapes...in short, a hide for the creative photographer. It is currently being tested and will be available from spring 2020 onwards. Also special here is the certainty of snow between December and March. Target species are: Wildcat, Red Deer, Red Fox, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Short-eared Owl, Tawny Owl, Hawfinch, Siskin, Marsh Harrier, Pine Marten, Wild Boar, Roe Deer, etc...
For now, a trial period is open from the middle of March to the end of June. An overview of the free hides per day can be found in the agenda below. This is similar to the agenda for the photo hides in Kalmthout: hides that are listed are still available and not the other way around! The costs (including VAT) are always 50€/hide/p.p. In H1-H6 there is ample room for 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1 photographers respectively.
A maximum of 5 photographers per day is allowed. You can also book several days or a week individually or as a group (up to 5 persons). The costs for a full week (7d) are 300€/pp. You will then have all the hides at your disposal and Philippe will take care of a schedule so that everyone can go anywhere and the most promising hides of that moment will be the focus of attention. Reservations can be made by emailing the day/period and hide(s) of your preference. The reservation is complete after payment of an advance of 30% of the total cost price. If you have to cancel your reservation due to circumstances, you can do so free of charge up to 1 month prior to the agreed date. If you cancel 2-4 weeks in advance, 75% of your deposit will be refunded. Even later that share will be 50%. If you are interested in a different period than the proposed trial period, please send me a message and I will see what is possible in consultation with Philippe.