By Jean-Yves Barnagaud, Nidal Issa and Sébastien Dalloyau
Pelagic Publishing, 2019
Pbk, 335pp; many colour photographs and maps
ISBN 978-1-78427-154-1; £25.00
Despite being so close to the UK, France supports over 80 species that do not breed in the UK, a significant proportion of which never reach our shores, so France has a lot to offer the visiting birdwatcher. This book divides the country into 14 regions (including Corsica) and highlights 312 sites to visit. The text is quite dense and some of it is highlighted to help you to speed-read for key information. The book is full of maps – 466 of them – showing either a regional overview or more local detail. What it lacks is detail about how to approach a visit to each site – for example, where any hides are, where to park, what paths to take.
There is a colour-coded monthly calendar for each site indicating the best months to visit and then key species are noted under year-round, breeding, migration and winter. The Birdfinder section at the end of the book provides targeted details for 30 species that will mostly rank among the main targets of birders visiting France. There is also a calendar table for each of the 400 or so species found in the country. Although the book contains no GPS references, these are available in a file that can be downloaded from the publisher’s website and loaded onto any GPS device.
The authors have tried to include a lot in this book and it is certainly comprehensive. My advice to anyone trying to use it is to read the appropriate section in advance and then search for more detailed information about specific sites in order to maximise the effectiveness of your visit.