Parc du Marquenterre

Birdwatching in northern France at the Parc du Marquenterre

The Somme Bay maritime reserve in northern France holds a number of excellent birdwatching sites, but perhaps the jewel in its crown is the 250-hectare block of lagoons, mudflats, marshland, reed beds, dunes, and pine woodland that make up Parc du Marquenterre.
The reserve hosts several desirable species that are hard to see in Britain, and most breed within its boundaries. The site is great year-round, with good passage in spring and especially autumn, but the breeding specialities are a significant draw in summer. 
With 14 hides dotted along its boardwalks and paths, good views can be had of about 30 pairs of breeding Avocet, with their specialised kinked bills, and around 10 pairs of Black-winged Stilt with their outlandishly long red legs. Kentish Plover – now extinct as a breeding bird in Britain – maintains several pairs in the dunes. 
Larger wading species present include White Stork, Spoonbill, Great White and Cattle Egrets and Night Heron, along with the possibility of Black Stork and, later in the season, the odd Common Crane. Black-necked Grebe dives for fish out on the water, alongside the occasional Garganey. Melodious, Great Reed, Marsh and Savi’s Warblers sing in and around the reed beds, joined by Bluethroat, an exotically coloured version of our familiar Robin.
The trees conceal the yellow and black Golden Oriole, dainty European Serin, and tiny, fierce Firecrests and Crested Tits, all scarce in Britain and, in the case of the latter, impossible to see in England. Nightingale and Cirl Bunting hold territories, while the woods hold resident Short-toed Treecreepers, Middle and Lesser Spotted (and occasional Black) Woodpeckers, and Common Crossbills. 
While the nesting birds are fledging, the first waders begin returning, and these can include impressive species such as Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper and even rarities, all fine preludes to migration itself, which is frequently spectacular.
Parc du Marquenterre
25 bis chemin des Garennes
80120 Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont
Tél : +33 (0)3 22 25 68 99