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Andance - Andance, Ardèche (07)
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Site descriptions


Surroundings and natural setting of the watch point 

The site is situated ont the right bank of the Rhône valley, at the northern end of the narrow pass of Saint-Vallier (with Pierre-Aiguille at its southern end). Three watch points are manned by volunteers: the peak dominating the lower valley of the Cance river, east of the village of Talencieux (locality: Roche Vautour), the mouth of the Cance river, on the left bank (locality : Cancette) and the slope of Montalivet at the northernmost end of the slope above the village of Andance (for access, see below). 

The peak east of Talencieux offers a splendid view on the narrow gorge of Saint-Vallier. In fine weather, Chartreuse can be seen to the north-east, Vercors to the east and even Mont Ventoux to the south. To the north, you look over the plains of Bièvre (with migrants in the sky both in autumn and spring). On spring passage, this is an excellent site for raptor watching, particularly with a northerly wind. The sightings are often of top quality. Note that even better viewing conditions are possible from the mountain slope of Montalivet with a moderate to rather strong northerly wind; as the view is more restricted over 90° in the southwest, most of the birds are spotted at close range with the naked eye!

The natural habitat, of a mediterranean type, is composed of a rocky peak surrounded by dry pastures, bushy heather, Holm Oak Quercus ilex and Pubescent Oak Quercus pubescens thickets and some vines. Breeding birds of the site and its immediate vicinity include Short-toed Eagle, Eagle Owl, Nightjar, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Bonelli's Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

The mouth of the Cance river offers the best viewing conditions for some typical Rhône valley species: Great Cormorants, White Storks (in autumn), wildfowl, gulls, Reed Buntings, etc. Compared to the other view points, all observations are from the river side and the view is narrower.

From the 3rd site (slope of Montalivet), in spring, the viewing conditions are superb with a moderate northerly wind, as the migration flow is funelled over this site, situated at the northern end of the defile of Saint-Vallier: the raptors are pushed against the slope and pass at a few tens of metres above the watch point. Counts have been done from this site in 2004 and again in April 2008 (during days with a northerly wind). 

Autumn surveys, starting from 2008... and it is looking promising: during summer, in the shade of the big oak trees and a good view we are expecting nice observations. Raptors are coming from the Bièvre plains, whereas White Storks and waterbirds follow the Rhône valley.

History of the survey

We are doing spring surveys since 2004 and autumn surveys since 2006. They are basically single person surveys (Vincent Palomares) and counts depend on his availability (as well as weather conditions!)... Any observers wishing to visit the site and willing to count migrants are most welcome! (See contact address below).

Ornithological interest and key species

The major interest of the site is in the combination of migrants following the Rhône valley and migrants following a northeast to southwest direction, between an important geological depression, fossé d'Alès (Gard) and the lowlands of Bièvre (Isère). So far, 153 migratory species have been observed (on active migration). In spring, the site is most favorable for raptor watching, in particular for Osprey (70 in 2004 and 2005 despite an incomplete survey), Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Hobby. White Storks are regularly seen. Less spectacular than on col de l'Escrinet, passerine migration is visible and quite varied; the migration of Swifts can also be quite noticeable. Along the Rhône river, a good passage of Great Cormorants, Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls is evident. During autumn, the raptor migration is less important but the site is still good for White Storks (> 2300 in 2008), Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Skylark, Starling, ... Migrating Greylag Geese and Penduline Tits are also regular, albeit in small numbers. A number of regional rarities have been observed here: Great White Pelican (10.09.08), Spoonbill (1.04.2008), Griffon Vulture (3.05.08), Lesser Spotted Eagle (14.09.08), Booted Eagle (5 observations), Red-footed Falcon (9 observations), Eleonora's Falcon (14.05.2006), Barred Godwit (2.10.2007), Caspian Tern (9 observations), Arctic Tern (18.10.2006 and 21.04.2007), Short-eared Owl (24.10.08), Red-rumped Swallow (08.05.2005), Red-throated Pipit (6.10.2006), ...


There is no particular infrastructure to receive visitors in situ, nor is there a permanency. One or several observers may be present on the site according to their availability and the weather conditions.
How to get there?

By car, take the N86, between Andance and Sarras. On the motorway A7 take exit 12 (Chanas) : follow Serrières, then Tournon (on the N86) ; exit 13 (Tain l’Hermitage) : follow Saint-Vallier, Sarras next, and Lyon (on the N86). 

Site 1 - Access to the Cance river mouth : coming from the north (Andance) on the N86, turn left just before passing the Cance bridge (near signpost of transport café « Chez Jojo ») ; pass under the railway and take the rightmost driveable road following the left bank of river Cance. Watch from the riverside near a yellow CNR (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône) signpost.

Site 2 - Access to the peak overlooking the Cance river mouth: on the N86, at the same site as in the previous description, take the D370 towards Talencieux (on the right coming from Andance). In a right turn (at a 90° angle) just before the village centre, take left, towards « les rameaux ». Going straight on, the road becomes more or less driveable. The easiest option for those unfamiliar with the site, is to park the car as soon as possible (without obstructing the passage) and to continue on foot following the gas pipe (yellow signs) ; near the bee-hives, climb on the lefthand side (dirt road) and continue onto the ridge. It is also possible to walk up the slope from the valley (following the gas pipe).

Site 3 - Access to the slope of Montalivet, 1.5 km north of the ridge (slope of Montalivet - Andance) : via Talencieux, take the D370 towards Andance ; before redescending onto the plateau, take right at Blassieux and continu upto two oak trees on the edge of the slope dominating the Rhône). 


For any additional information, or any observations from the watch points (during his absence), please contact Vincent Palomares :

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