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Col d'Organbidexka - Larrau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64)
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The natural setting of the site

Col d’Organbidexka is situated in the Basque Country, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques, 1283 metres above sea level. In the heart of the forest of Irati, Europe's most extensive beech forest, it offers a breath-taking view on Haute-Soule and Piémont oriental of the Basque Country. At the foot of Pic d’Orhi, the highest summit in the area, green pastures, rocky outcrops and heather compete to compose a mosaic landscape, the magnificence of which will change with the seasons, from shades of green in summer to the first snow, not to forget a riot of colour in autumn. Marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, as they paint the mountains in violet, red or pink hues, when the first Osprey or the last Marsh Harrier of the day flies past. 

The serene majesty of the deep forest of Irati is inviting the inquisitive visitor. Its fast-flowing torrents are home to Dippers, the elusive Pyrenean Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) and Pyrenean Brook Newt (Euproctus asper), whereas its tree tops are explored by Black and White-backed Woodpeckers and during the rut, you may hear the roar of Red Deer. On the rocky outcrops, you will see wary Rock Thrushes. The local birds of prey hold a special fascination for most people. Thermalling Griffon Vultures, soaring majesticallly overhead, are beyond any doubt the masters of the sky. The very rare and local Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture quite regularly patrols over Col d’Organbidexka. Sometimes one can even see its black moustaches, giving its alternative name, with the naked eye.

The migration survey

Since 1979, we are organizing an annual autumn survey across the Pyrenees. Our aims are threefold: 

  • to study the migratory flow and to assess population changes,
  • to study the impact of hunting on pigeons and other migrants,
  • to inform the general public about the fascinating natural phenomenon of migration and the damage of ever increasing and more efficient hunting activities on european birdlife and the Pyrenean mountain habitat. 

The survey of transpyrenean migration of Red Kite on the three major sites in the Basque Country has shown a marked decrease in numbers, corroborating research in some of the breeding areas.  

The survey consists of daily counts, from 15 July until 15 November, from sunrise until sunset, of the larger species (raptors, cranes, storks, pigeons). Each period has its typical species. If the migration of Black Kites in mid August or Honey Buzzards at the end of August is spectular in numbers, different times of the year reveal a good diversity of species. Certain days, we see up to twenty species of raptors, White Storks, Black Storks, cranes, thousands of passerines, pigeons and the local species such as the mythical Lammergeier or the very rare White-backed Woodpecker. 

The Transpyr survey concentrates on the three Pyrenean migration hotspots for autumn migration of pigeons in the Basque Country. Organbidexka, the easternmost watch point, is one of the three best migration sites in Western Europe, together with Falsterbo in Sweden and the Straits of Gibraltar. The other two, Lizarrieta and Lindux are surveyed less intensely, from 15 September until 15 November for the passage of Red Kite and pigeons. 

How to get there?

Midway between Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Tardets, the site is easily accessible by car. From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, follow the direction of Chalets d’Irati, a mountain pass situated some 300 metres below. It is also possible to fetch volunteers wishing to count during several days at the railway station of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. To participate, you needn't be a top-notch birder. The regular migration watchers will learn you the basics. Whatever your level of field experience, you are most welcome to join us.


Observatoire Régional de la Migration des Oiseaux- LPO Aquitaine / Organbidexka Col Libre, Erdoia, 64120 LUXE-SUMBERRAUTE

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