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Roquecezière - Laval-Roquecezière, Aveyron (12)
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Surroundings and natural setting of the watchpoint 

Located on the northwestern outskirts of the Monts de Lacaune, Roquecezière straddles the border between the “départements” Aveyron in the north and Tarn in the south and west.
 
Arriving on the nearly 900 m high mountain ridge, one is welcomed with the splendid view of the wooded valleys and agricultural landscape of the southern Aveyron, the summits of Monts de Lacaune and the plateaux of Grands Causses. In fine weather conditions, the Black Mountains (Montagne noire) and the Pyrenees loom on the southwestern horizon. The ranges of Aubrac and Monts du Cantal run across the north and Massif de l’Aigoual rises in the north-east.
 
The mountain ridge dominating the Rance valley and the plains of « Rougier de Camarès » (in the south of Aveyron) forms a natural barrier for migratory birds crossing the Aveyron plains. A bottleneck effect and rising thermals allow close encounters of the bird kind.
 
The best viewpoints are near the Virgin statue overlooking the village of Roquecezière, and on the ridge a few hundred metres to the south-east (antenna, Roc de Peyronnenc).
 
History of the survey
 
The autumn migration watchpoint was discovered in the early 1990s. After irregular counts by volunteers until 2005 (mainly between late August and September), daily counts were organized by volunteers and staff of LPO Tarn and Aveyron between 20th August and 10th September from 2006 onward. The programme is made possible thanks to a financial support of the Haut-Languedoc and Grands Causses Regional Natural Parks as well as the municipality of Laval-Roquecezière. The project aims to survey migratory birds and to raise public awareness on bird migration. The Virgin of Roquecezière viewpoint is a tourist attraction.  
 
Ornithological interest, emblematic species
 
The Roquecezière ridge is the best spot for autumn raptor migration in Aveyron and Tarn.
 
Since 2006, between 2000 and 3000 raptors are counted annually from 20th August until 10th September. This includes many Honey Buzzards and Black Kites. A good variety of other raptor species can also be seen, e.g. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Osprey, Hobby, etc. Both stork species are regularly observed in small numbers (mainly Black Storks). Even Eleonora’s Falcon turns up every year.
 
Within the time frame of the survey, Honey Buzzard is the commonest raptor (between 1300 and 2800 individuals a year in 2006-2008). The rush can be expected between the 25th August and the very first days of September and includes top days with nearly 1000 individuals (27/08/2006). Black Kite numbers (200 – 1200 inds.) are underestimated as the regular survey only starts after peak migration in early August.
 
Later in the season, in October and early November, thousands of passerines (mainly finches) and Woodpigeons are coming through. Unfortunately, we lack information on these flows.  
 
Next to migrating birds, a good variety of local birds is frequently seen, including Hen Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Red-backed Shrike and Yellowhammer. In good weather, Griffon Vultures and Black Vultures are regularly observed. Vultures make long feeding flights from the colony in Grands-Causses (Aveyron-Lozère) at about 60 km. Wandering Golden Eagles also make some appearances.
 
Optimal weather conditions are a weak to moderate northern to northwesterly wind with partial cloud cover. The first nice days after a period with bad weather are usually rewarding and may yield good numbers of raptors. Few migrants are seen with a southern to southeasterly wind (locally known as “vent d’Autan”), although passerines and pigeons seem less sensitive.
 
Generally, soaring birds (raptors and storks) depend on rising thermals and take advantage of the hot hours of the day. Most migration takes place between mid morning and early afternoon. Near mid afternoon there is often a dip in numbers, picking up pace by the evening.
 
Most pigeons and passerines are seen during early morning (from sun rise to noon).  
 
Visitors
 
There are daily counts by observers from LPO Tarn and Aveyron between 20th August and 10th September (peak period for raptor migration) near the Virgin statue overlooking the village of Roquecezière. All watchpoints are freely accessible to visitors (Virgin, Peyronnenc…).
 
Access
 
Roquecezière is close to the RD607, centrally (15 km) between Lacaune (in the south-east) and Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance (in the north).
 
Where to stay an where to eat ?
 
At the foot of the rock with the Virgin statue :
Restaurant « Le César » -12380 Roquecezière – Phone : 05 65 99 61 98
 
Tourist offices will provide information on places to stay :  
- Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance (12380) : 05 65 99 29 13
- Lacaune-les-Bains (81230) : 05 63 37 04 98
 
Contact
 
LPO AVEYRON
10, rue des Coquelicots
12850 ONET-LE-CHATEAU
Phone : 05 65 42 94 48
E-mail : mailto:aveyron@lpo.fr
 

LPO TARN
Place de la mairie – BP 20027
81290 LABRUGUIERE
Phone : 05 63 73 08 38
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