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my husband has a degree in ecology and used to work in that field in the UK.  He doesn't of course over here!  (ecology - c'est quoi?).  But the other day when we were out walking (looking for a roman fort in the forest) he heard a nightjar calling.  This is a very rare bird in the UK, but is it just as rare here please?  We keep seeing things he says are rare in the UK, but we are not sure if they are as unusual over here.  I suppose what we need is a french book, or books, but he would prefer one in english, even though his french is excellent.  Any recommendations?

He is interested in most things - birds, insects, plants, trees - you name it, he is fascinated by it.  Or any useful websites too. 



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I have asked on your other thread, to start with where are you in France Fil? I'll also take this opportunity to say, welcome.

Nightjars are not particularly rare in France, but as no doubt you will be aware, they require fairly specific habitats for breeding, which is of course their only reason for being here in Europe, so what tends to happen is that often where you find one, you find several, maybe 10, 20 or more in a very small area. As you will also be aware, they will shortly be making a move for the winter when it will also be possible to see small numbers of them flying south together.

For people who don't know much about Nightjars, having located where they are, the best time to observe them is just before dusk, ideally around the longest days of the summer, until about midnight when they are feeding, and again shortly before dawn until it starts to get light.

You can find a number of useful links (I think) on my web site. http://www.planetepassion.com

Cheers, Chris

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One book which comes highly recommended is Collins Bird

Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and

Europe.  It is available from Amazon.co.uk in  hardback

(£16.49) or in paperback (£11.21); they will send books to

France.  The text and drawings in the hardback are easier to

interpret but the paperback makes a useful field guide - it depends how

you think you will use it most.

We're still listening for nightjars here (near Pau, down by the

Pyrenees) but we have a nightingale who sings in the tree by the

house.  Magic! 

are all sorts of birds here which are uncommon in the UK including

black redstarts (lots around the outbuildings), golden orioles,

hoopoes, and red-legged partridge.

Best wishes


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I don't know if this equates with the Collins Guide, but I have as a field book Le Guide onitho, ISBN.2-603-01142-1, it is in French, but if you use it in conjunction with an English text it gets you used to the names in French, which is essential if you are going to spend time with French people, most of those that I meet up with know the names in Latin as well.(don't you hate them?).

I know that I've posted this before but, http://www.oiseaux.net/ is a great French site for bird info.

The reality is, that most ornithological books are 10 to 20 years out of date by the time that they are published, and with the speed that the situation is changing, that's a long time.


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I studied zoology and ecology at university and looked long and hard for a book offering me sufficient information to satisfy my needs:  I would definitely recommend the following which you can get on Amazon.fr :

Inventaire de la faune de France: Vertébrés et principaux invertébrés

What I like about this book is that it not only gives you a very good reference guide for birds but also for other vertebrates including mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Each animal has half a page dedicated to it which gives you an awful lot of information on the diet, reproduction, habit, habitat and rarity of the species.

The absolutely wonderful thing about it, for me, is that every animal has a map of France associated with it which shows you whether it is present in your department and if so whether it is rare or common.  Other information given is "historique et perspective"which tells you whether the animal is in decline or threatened and also whether it is indigenous to France or whether it has been introduced.  I know it is quite a bit of money (about £25) but really well worth it - I refer to it on an almost daily basis when I am in France.

Hope this helps!


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