Fauna and Flora

Bird watching in the Marais poitevin

Bird watching in the Marais poitevin

Home > Blog > Bird watching in the Marais poitevin

10 April 2018

The Marais poitevin Regional Natural Park not only attracts protected nature and beautiful landscapes lovers, but it is also a paradise for migratory birds. As they follow a migration route North-South that crosses the Marais poitevin, the territory becomes an ideal halt for them. Each year some 500,000 birds fly over the Marais Poitevin in their trip to lands with milder weather and more abundant food.

During a walk or a ride in the Marais poitevin, you can find observatories that are specially adapted to observe birds. It’s thus in the best conditions that you can take your time to look at the skies and the meadows to spot beautiful specimens among more than 330 bird species coming every year in the Marais poitevin or living here throughout the year. It is also an instructive activity, especially with your family to raise children’s awareness of nature.

Touristes observant les oiseaux dans un observatoire - marais poitevin

However, you won’t be able to watch them simultaneously, because their presence depends on the migration periods, even though some of the birds are present in the Marais poitevin throughout the year.

Which birds can you observe in the Marais poitevin and in what season?

– In spring and summer :
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Common redshank (Tringa totanus)
Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himatopus)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Common linnet (Linaria cannabina)
Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Garganey (anas querquedula)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Northern wheater (Oenanthe oenanthe)

– In autumn and winter :
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Brant geese (Branta bernicla)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Northern pintail (Anas acuta)
Widgeon (Anas penelope)
Whooper swan (cygnus cygnus)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Common crane (grus grus)
Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)
Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Greylag geese (Anser anser)
Greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons)
Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)

– Birds present throughout the year in the Marais poitevin :
Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)
Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos)
European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
White stork (Ciconia ciconia), some 60 individuals
Mute swan (Cygnus Olor)
Common pheasant (phasianus colchicus)
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common shelduck (tadorna tadorna)
Northern lapwing (Vannellus vannellus)


Where to observe birds in the Marais poitevin?

Tardorne de Belon


The Marais poitevin natural Regional Park is known to be a great site in Europe to observe birds.

If you can catch astonishing species during a nature walk everywhere in the Marsh, some places are better rich birding sites than others.

The Aiguillon Bay

The Aiguillon Bay National Natural Reserve – situated in the Departments of Vendée and Charente-Maritime on the Atlantic coast – is an ideal site to observe the migratory birds of the Marais poitevin, and especially water birds such as the Black-tailed godwit, the Dunlin, the Pied avocet, the Common shelduck, or the Northern pintail.
The Bay is internationally known for the migration and wintering of several species and is suitable for the observation of migratory birds in the Marais poitevin.

The common lands

The common lands are large natural meadows with unsuspected rich wildlife. Since they are flooded in winter, they represent an area which is favourable to water birds. The weak presence of man, the low level of obstacles and the availability of food strengthen the indispensability of those lands for migratory birds stopping at the Poitevin Marsh. Common lands are complementary to coastal areas such as the Aiguillon Bay. If water levels are favourable, some of the species such as the Garganey or the Northern lapwing breed in the commons lands.

The dry marshes

An appealing place for species such as the Short-eared owl or the Water rail that come back every year for the large open spaces and the quietness, the dry marshes are a favourite spot for family strolls and the observation of migratory birds in the Marais poitevin.

A few advices to observe birds in the Marais poitevin

Touristes observant les oiseaux dans un observatoire - Marais poitevin

To maximise your chances to spot migratory birds in the Marais poitevin Regional Natural Park, here are below a few useful tips:

This is obvious, but binoculars will help you to observe and identify birds without scaring them. So, remind yourself not to forget them at home!

Plan specific clothes to avoid bad surprises like rain. Some of the paths can be very humid in winter and only a few sites are sheltered.

The observatories available for your comfort are located in protected areas, their access are often regulated.
With summer heat, it can be difficult to observe birds because of heat haze. To increase your chances, come to observe in the morning and at night.
Professional structures can help you if you wish to discover the incredible biodiversity of the different sites of the Marais poitevin.
You can also take part in ornithological excursions with guides that will explain and share their passion for the birds of the Marais poitevin. It’s a perfect way to learn more and introduce children to the surrounding wilderness.

If you are interested, here is below a list of professionals working in the Marais poitevin, and links to guides if you want to learn more:

→ Aiguillon Bay National Natural Reserve (Réserve Naturelle nationale de la baie de l’Aiguillon)
National Office for Hunting and Wild Fauna – League for the Protection of Birds France (co-manager) [Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage – Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux France] Prée Mizottière Farm (Ferme de la Prée Mizottière)
85450 Sainte-Radegonde-des-Noyers
Phone: +33 2 51 56 90 01

→ National Natural Reserve Michel Brosselin (Réserve Naturelle nationale Michel Brosselin)
League for the Protection of Birds France (manager) [Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux France] Saint-Denis-du-Payre
Phone: +33 2 51 28 41 10

→ Regional Natural Reserve of the Marsh of the Vacherie [Réserve naturelle régionale du Marais de la Vacherie] League for the Protection of Birds France (manager) [Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux France] Champagné-les-Marais
Phone: +33 2 51 56 78 80

→ Regional Natural Reserve Choisy Farm [Réserve naturelle régionale Ferme de Choisy] Departmental Federation of Hunters of Vendée (manager) [Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs de Vendée] Saint-Michel-en-l’Herm
Phone: +33 2 51 47 80 90

→ National Natural Reserve Casse de la Belle-Henriette
League for the Protection of Birds France (manager) [Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux France] L’aiguillon-sur-Mer & La Faute-sur-Mer
Phone: +33 2 51 28 41 10

→ Migration camps Aiguillon Pointe [Camps migration Pointe de l’Aiguillon] League for the Protection of Birds Vendée (manager) [Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux Vendée] Sainte-Radégonde-des-Noyers
Phone: +33 2 51 56 78 80

To get Le Guide de la nature dans le Marais poitevin (Book in French: The Nature field guide of the Marais poitevin)



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