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Les Conches - Ceyzériat, Ain (01)
Watchpoint
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The watchpoint

Known as Les Conches (the name of a locally renowned chapel) the watchpoint is in reality situated at the hamlet Les Roches du Cuiron. 10 km east of Bourg-en-Bresse, in the foothills of Revermont, it occupies the first heights between the plains of Bresse and the Jura Massif, 650 metres above sea level. It can be easily located by following the "route des Crêtes" over a few kilometres, starting from Ceyzériat to the mountaineering school. The latter is on the first road to the right before reaching the TV relay tower and observers are generally at the base of the tower. All observers are volunteers and they frequently visit the site from the end of August to mid November, depending on weather conditions and availability. Perhaps surprisingly, the site is not a col, although it is dominating the col of La Pérouse. It is, however, a good view point and in fine weather conditions, the summits of the Alps appear in the west, the region of Lyon in the south and the monts du Beaujolais, beyond Bresse and Saône.

Ornithological interest, emblematic species

The active migration of birds crossing the plains and ending up in the valleys of the Ain, Suran and Drom can be observed quite well from the watchpoint. Without a geographical bottleneck effect by natural obstacles, the site does not have as many raptors or soaring birds as a watchpoint in the easternmost part of Ain department, at defile du Fort l'Ecluse. We are not seeing more than 5000 raptors a year, which is a fairly modest number.

On the other hand, the site is more interesting for passerine migration. Particularly with a slight southern wind, passerines may be observed in particularly good conditions, allowing their identification. Typically, mornings in September and October are marked by an incessant flow of migrant song birds, sometimes down to a few metres from the observers or moving from Box (Buxus sempervirens) shrub to Box shrub in an old pasture being recolonized by vegetation.

Observations at close range are quite pedagogical and sometimes we manage to identify over 500.000 passerines in a single autumn. Although Chaffinches dominate autumn migration, there are noticeable differences from year to year. At the start of the season, we see Ortolan Buntings and Tawny Pipits, followed by swallows and martins, Sylvia warblers, Phylloscopus warblers, thrushes, and finally, often in impressive numbers, by finches. In a single day, we have noted over a thousand Tree Pipits, Song Thrushes or Hawfinches. Mountain species are not rare and it is a nice experience to watch Nutcrackers, Citril Finches or Wallcreepers flying over the Bresse river.


History of the survey

The surveys started some 20 years ago by several members of the Centre Ornithologique Rhône-Alpes de l'Ain (CORA AIN). The survey at Les Conches is purely on a voluntary basis. There is no permanency and no infrastructure. It is however easy to meet birders at the site between the end of August and mid November, generally from day rise to the early afternoon.

Access

The watchpoint can be reached on foot from Ceyzériat, but be prepared for a steep climb! In Ceyzeriat, take the D529 signposted Mont July, cross the hamlet et take the "route forestière des Crêtes" to the chapel of Notre-Dame des Conches. The watchpoint is north of col de la Pérouse, from a site called "les Roches de Cuiron" between the viewpoint and the antenna.

Where to stay and where to eat

The village is offering different types of accommodation and there is a camp site during summer.
Mairie de Ceyzériat: 04 74 25 09 09
Tourist Office of Bourg-en-Bresse: 04 74 22 27 76

Contact

CORA Ain, 

Place St Vincent de Paul,

01400 Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne

mailto:coraain@yahoo.fr

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