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Pointe de l'Aiguillon - Aiguillon-sur-Mer (L'), Vendée (85)
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Pointe de l'Aiguillon migration camp is along the southernmost stretch of the Vendée coast (85) at Aiguillon-sur-Mer. The emphasis is on passerine autumn migration. The migration camp has an educational function and we welcome any motivated volunteer. You needn't be an experienced birder to participate (optical equipment is available). Every year, a coordinator is recruited. He or she is responsible for the migration survey and will explain to volunteers how to recognize birds in flight (identification criteria) and how to count.

The environment and natural setting of the watchpoint

Pointe de l'Aiguillon is a sand spit where we meet every morning in an exceptional natural setting. Situated in the south of the department, Pointe d'Aiguillon shows some interesting geomorphological features, created by ocean currents and the Lay river, it is opposite pointe Saint-Clément, on the Charente coast, south of baie de l'Aiguillon.
We are in the heart of the nature reserve of Baie de l'Aiguillon, a site of international importance for birds. Thousands of water birds will feed on the mud flats at low tide. The dune massif is protected by law (Arrêté Préfectoral de Protection de Biotope, APPB).

History of the survey

Since 1987, some volunteers, including C. GONIN and L. GRILLET, discovered an exceptional migratory flow. In 1993, Groupe Ornithologique Vendée, LPO Vendée since 1995, decided to create a watch point to follow autumn migration precisely year after year.

Ornithological interest, emblematic species

Every year, on average some 400.000 migrants are counted. During the survey, we see between 70 and 80 migratory species, and Pointe d'Aiguillon is of national importance for the autumn migration of passerines. The identification of small birds in flight requires some experience and flight calls are often excellent indications. During the migration camp, we pay attention to both visual and auditive identification and to counting techniques. Eight species are emblematic: Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Barn Swallow, Skylark and Chaffinch.

Migration calendar

Every year, the migration camp takes place between 1 September and 30 November with a daily presence on the beach from sunrise. During mornings, we mainly concentrate on counting. We usually stop at 13h00.
During afternoons, you are free to do what you want. Motivated birders will participate in surveys of some important bird areas in the Aiguillon area. About 15 sites are counted regularly, situated less than 30 km from our accommodation. These may yield some interesting observations (Spotted Crake, Little Gull, Water Rail, marsh terns, Gannet, scoters, stints, sandpipers, geese, harriers, Little Owl, White Stork, Black Stork, ...).

During weekends, weather permitting, we are organizing an "observation watchpoint" inviting the general public to observe birds in the bay. Telescopes and field guides are available to visitors and we will be answering your questions.

Reception of visitors

We are receiving volunteers between 1 September and 30 November.
Recently, the municipality of Aiguillon is offering five room accommodation lodging 12 volunteers simultaneously. It is situated at the reception of camping des Dunes, less than 2 km from the watchpoint (we are walking this distance every morning).
No minimal duration is asked for. You may stay 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months... For beginning birders, however, we believe that a one week course is the minimal requirement to learn something. 
Each volunteer is paying 7 euros a day (6 euros a day if you are staying over 3 weeks).

Camp facilities are based on community life, and participants will share tasks such as entering data, cleaning, kitchen (preparing food, washing dishes)...

Access

It is very easy to reach Pointe d'Aiguillon by car. Once at Aguillon-sur-Mer, follow Point de Aiguillon. You will drive along the dike for 8 km. This is the only coastal road, it's impossible to take the wrong road. At the dead end, you will find a car park. Park your car there and continue on foot along a trail take will take you to the beach. We are easily recognizable with telescopes and binoculars!

If you do not have a proper car, we can fetch you at Luçon (85) railway station.

Contact

For all information, please contact LPO Vendée division sud Vendée :
Website : vendee.lpo.fr interactive database (Vendée): www.faune-vendee.org 
Address : LPO sud Vendée
Le Grand Mothais
85450 CHAMPAGNE-LES-MARAIS
Tel. : 02-51-56-78-80
Mail : aurelie.guegnard@lpo.fr

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