Despite being one of the most popular areas in France for family holidays and second-home owners, the département (think ‘county’) of the Dordogne has up to now been overlooked by birding site guide authors. This gap has been comprehensively filled by David Simpson, a resident there for more than 10 years.
Situated about halfway between Bordeaux and the Massif Central, the Dordogne is typical of rural France, where birds such as Golden Oriole, Hoopoe and Cirl Bunting are widespread, but the more localised species often take some tracking down. The effort, however, is worth it – the limestone cliffs hold breeding Eagle Owl, Crag Martin and Alpine Swift, there are Black and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers in the forests, and Hen and Montagu’s Harriers nest in the arable farmland. Wintering Wallcreepers and Alpine Accentors add to the attraction.
The booklet opens with some useful background visitor information, the main text then being divided into six chapters, each with an extremely clear and detailed map, pinpointing key spots within the wider area. Two describe the valleys of the Rivers Dordogne and Vézère, two others cover the more open landscapes of the Verteillac plain and the Faux plateau, while a fifth details the heathland and woodland of the Double and Landais forests. A sixth chapter ventures south, just out of the département, to include the Lot valley, where both Subalpine Warbler and Ortolan Bunting can be found. The author should be congratulated for packing so much information into so few pages.
• Birding Dordogne by David Simpson (BirdGuides, Sheffield, 2010).
• 32 pages, eight maps.
• ISBN 9781898110521. Pbk, £7.50.