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Falaise Bloucard - Mont-d'Origny, Aisne (02)
Watchpoint
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Site descriptions

Show:
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https://cdnfiles2.biolovision.net/www.migraction.net/pdffiles/news/small/Bloucard2-2035.JPG

Natural surroundings of the watchpoint

Like many valleys throughout Europe, the valley of the Oise, a river flowing across Picardy from the north-east to the south, offers good opportunities to watch bird migration inland. On its left bank, some 3 kilometres upstream from Origny-Sainte-Benoîte, the abrupt limestone cliffs of Bloucard mark a clear transition with the cultivated plains to the south-west of Guise. 25 metres above the river bed, the cliff-top trail offers an unobstructed view on the valley over several kilometres and is a good autumn migration watchtpoint. At Mont-d'Origny the cliffs protrude a little and this is the best vantage point (49°51'29'' N; 3°30'29'' E). Flocks of passerines will be seen well, particularly on days with a southwesterly wind, when migratory birds seek shelter behind the cliffs.

Falaise Bloucard is part of a  protected area (ZNIEFF, type I) covering 78 ha:  "the calcareous grasslands of the Oise valley upstream from Ribemont and Tupigny ". Vegetation mainly consists of calcicolous herbaceous plants giving way to shrubs and trees in the northern part. The most remarkable vegetation type is a dry grassland community with Blue Moor Grass (Sesleria albicans) and pioneer vegetation on screes with Rough Hawkbit (Leontodon hyoseroides), usually confined to the foothills and (sub)montane areas and rare in the lowland plains of France. The site is also recognized as a sensitive natural zone (ENS SQ 005). You will find more information about the protection status here (in French)

History of the survey

The survey started in the middle of the years 2000.  

Ornithological interest, key species

Usually, and particularly so with a low cloud cover, passerines fly at a close distance overhead and can be easily seen and heard. Some even fly at eye-level or are seen from a bird’s perspective, which is quite unusual in this region. Such viewing conditions are usually reserved to migration watchers on mountain passes.  Falaise Bloucard is not only interesting for active migration but also as a stop-over site. Finches, tits and Phylloscopus warblers regularly stay in the hedgerow bordering the path. From time to time, small Crossbill flocks feed in the conifers below.

At the right time of the year, when you arrive either by bike or by car from Mont-d'Origny, you will notice Whinchats and Wheatears in the fields. Last but not least, there is also an important gathering of Stone-Curlews each year from the end of August to mid November. The birds pass the day in the fields and feed during night in the meadows in the lower part of the valley.  

Finally, there are many rodents and seed-eating passerines. These attract good numbers of raptors. Some of these can be seen year-round (e.g. Kestrel, Hen Harrier and Sparrowhawk) whereas other species are only present seasonally (e.g. Merlin and Marsh Harrier; more rarely Peregrine, Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Buzzard and even a Pallid Harrier once).

Calendar

The geographical location of the site seems less favourable to spring migration. The opposite slope of the valley is much more gradual and does not offer such a good viewpoint in spring.

Visitors

There is no permanency and birders visit the site depending on their free time.

Access

From Saint-Quentin : take rue de Guise (direction D1029 – E44 to Maubeuge, Charleville-Mézières, Homblières, Origny-Sainte-Benoite, Guise). Pass Homblières, Thenelles and Origny-Sainte-Benoite (12 km). At the exit of Mont-d'Origny, turn left at the last traffic lights et pass in front of the church. Straight on. Follow an agricultural road and take left after about 1 km. The road bordered with Hornbeam is leading to a stone monument. This is it.

Places to stay and to eat

There are guest rooms at Mont d’Origny : and there is a bar - brasserie 10, rue Jean Mermoz. There are more options to stay and eat at Saint-Quentin, about 15 km away. We recommend you contact the tourist office of Saint-Quentin for additional information http://www.saint-quentin-tourisme.fr/.

Contact

Cochon Fabrice: mailto:cdomidomdom@orange.fr

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