News, Trip Reports, etc

Le Teich Bird Reserve & the Bassin d'Arcachon, France

Moulting juvenile Black-tailed Godwit on Les Vasieres des Spatules
Moulting juvenile Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) on Les Vasieres des Spatules

Location of Le Teich click here

Le Teich galleries

Le Teich, a major nature reserve on the Bassin d’Arcachon, about 50kms south-west of Bordeaux, is one of the largest and best reserves open to the public in France. Similar in many ways to the Marquenterre, well-known to many ‘Channel’ birders, it is perhaps better, with approximately 80 species breeding on the reserve and 260+ recorded there. The Bassin d'Arcachon itself has some good coastal sites, the Domaine de Certes is one of the best, also the beach at Arcachon provides good winter sea-watching over oyster-beds. The coast south of Arcachon, the huge Dune du Pilat and beyond, has less interest until one gets to the Etang de Cazaux, a large inland lake.


A trail leads from the visitor centre to the coast and back, 5kms, taking in no less than twenty hides and four observational viewpoints – a full day out giving close views of the birds. It takes in brackish and fresh-water, reedbeds and woodland. For those with youngsters it is excellent; near the entrance there is a short trail, 2kms, (part of the longer trail) with three hides and two observation points - with close views of nesting White Storks.
Each hide has a number and a name corresponding to the bird most representative of the location at a given time of year. The best hides for the high tide wader roost are nos. 5 to 13 - number 13 is furthest from the entrance.
The trail map in the book by J. Crozier is now out of date (see reference sources).
The centre itself has a nice shop and restaurant. You get a map with the entrance fee, tide times are displayed there, as are the results of the latest monthly bird count. For the high-tide wader roost, a mid-afternoon high-tide is ideal. The reserve is open 365 days of the year, and there is ample parking. For times and prices check the website. The reserve is never open before 10.00 a.m. and check the closing time when visiting - they close exactly on time. Closing times vary from 6.00p.m. winter to 8.00 p.m. summer. No dogs are allowed.


The Domaine de Certes, Audenge, 6kms north of Le Teich, is a protected area of saltpans with a good coastal trail. The pans are old and virtually all fresh-water now, but some are shallow enough for waders, terns, gulls, egrets and wildfowl, with good viewing over the saltmarsh and mudflats of the bay. The 14.5 kms long trail/cycle track starts in Audenge and is sign-posted. As ever in France, the protected status refers to the land only; there is much hunting here in season

Immediately south of the Domaine de Certes is the Domaine de Graveyron - similar but smaller at 9.3 kms, and also protected. Not much there in September 2009, but conveniently accessed from the Port d'Audenge. This is supposed to be a no-hunting zone, but isn't!

Back nearer to Le Teich, in September 2009 we looked at another protected area, Le Delta de la Leyre (full circuit c9kms). Accessed from the main D650 road, where there is a visitor centre the Relais Nature and parking (sign-posted), or from the Le Teich reserve carpark, near the bridge over the river, this too is meant to be a no-hunting zone but isn't....However, despite there being a couple of bunkers and a decoy pond in one area, the habitat is good, with reedbeds and coastal grazing pasture, and some very nice riverine woodland towards the Relais Nature end

Two good booklets covering the areas above are available from the Relais Nature visitor centre

The port area of Gujan-Mestras, the Ports Ostreicoles, is good for gulls and waders, and for breeding Tree Sparrows at the Port du Canal. It was around the Port de Larros that the biggest invasion of white-winged gulls ever to hit France occurred in Autumn 2008 after south-westerly storms. This area is famed for the oysters which you can buy fresh here, or eat in one of several restaurants

In September 2007 and December 2008 we also visited the large inland lake to the south, Etang de Cazaux, via the coastal road D218 south of Arcachon, and also Ares, on the north side of the bay, for the small wader roost there. The nature reserve here is best approached via footpaths off the main road D106, between Ares and Cap Ferret

Apart from the town beach at Arcachon, the Port de Peche offers good gull and wader-watching from two hours before high-tide. Although the coast south of Arcachon and 'the Dune' has less interest, strong westerlies can bring in passage seabirds like Leach's Storm-petrels, if you're prepared to be sand-blasted!

Greenshanks on Les Vasieres des Spatules
Redshank on La Lagune Claude Quancard
Male Garganey on La Vasiere des Spatules
Male Black-winged Stilt on Le Grand Large


We have used two campsites, one at Gujan-Mestras, between Arcachon and Le Teich, and one at Le Teich; both are sign-posted on the main coastal road D650. A hotel at Biganos is handy in winter, and another recently opened one is only five minutes drive from the reserve.

Camping Municipal Le Verdalle
Avenue de la Plage
Tel. 0556 661262
No website

Camping Ker Helen
Avenue de la Cote d'Argent
33470 LE TEICH
Tel. 0556 660379

Hôtel du Delta
25, bis avenue de la côte d'Argent
Tél. 05 56 82 62 84

Hôtel All Suites Home Le Teich
7, Rue Copernic
33470 LE TEICH
Hôtel All Suites


A Birdwatching Guide to France South of the Loire, J. Crozier, Arlequin Press, published 2000.

Le Teich official website, including monthly bird counts

LPO Aquitaine

Domaine de Certes trail, Audenge


161 species recorded over trips made in March, April, September, October and December, from 2007 onwards. 28 wader and 9 gull species recorded to date. Being beside a shallow tidal bay, high-tide counts on the reserve vary greatly with the tidal coefficient

I know of no 'official' Le Teich bird list; the monthly bird-count is on the Le Teich reserve website
The list here should give observers an idea of what can be seen at various times of year

Observations - notes

Res = Le Teich reserve
Audenge = Domaine de Certes-Graveyron-Le Delta area
Arcachon = Town beaches and jetties, Port de Peche
Gujan-Mestras = Ports Ostreicoles

Species with no data entered are commonly seen residents/migrants in the area

Wood Sandpiper on La Lagune Claude Quancard
Bluethroat male on Le Teich reserve
Male Snow Bunting at the Port de Peche, Arcachon

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (Gavia immer) Etang de Cazaux 2 adults 27/4/07 and 26/12/08, Arcachon 1 imm 26/12/08
BLACK-NECKED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis) Arcachon 4 26/12/08, 1 2/12/09
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)

LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) Plage de la lagune 138 south 30/11/09 in 1.5 hours
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus) Frequent along coast south of Arcachon in winter

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) Res breeding colony
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) Res present throughout the year, max. 6 25/12/08
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) Res present throughout the year, max. c30 2/12/09
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) Common, a few pairs nest on reserve
GREAT EGRET (Casmerodius albus) Fairly common except mid-summer
GREY HERON (Ardea cinerea) Res breeding colony
WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia) Res breeding colony, some present throughout the year
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia) Seen throughout the year. Res max. 63 11/9/07

MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor)
(BLACK SWAN) (Cygnus atratus) Audenge 2 27/4/07
GREYLAG GOOSE (Anser anser) Ferals joined by wild birds on migration
(GREATER CANADA GOOSE) (Branta canadensis) Res 1-4 seen all months
BRENT GOOSE (Branta bernicla) (nominate B. bernicla) Common on Bassin in winter; at southern limit of wintering range
COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna)
EURASIAN WIGEON (Anas penelope) Res 4 16/3/08, 1 11/3/10, Arcachon 5 26/12/08, 1 10/9/09
GADWALL (Anas strepera) Res 1 26/4/07, 1 10/9/07, 3 17/3/09, 4 (2 pairs) 11/3/10, 3+ 8/9/10
COMMON TEAL (Anas crecca) Common winter visitor, Res max. 500+ 11/3/10
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) Fairly common in winter, Arcachon max. 110 10/3/10
GARGANEY (Anas querquedula) Res 2 17/3/08, 1 18/3/09, Audenge 8+ 19/3/09, 1 8/9/09
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Anas clypeata) Fairly common in winter, Res max. 100+ 11/3/10
COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina) Res 5 26/4/07, 2 25/12/08, 2 1/12/09
COMMON SCOTER (Melanitta nigra) Arcachon 3 26/12/08
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator) Arcachon 6 26/12/08

EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD (Pernis apivorus) Res 1 male 7/9/09, 1 9/9/09, 1 10/9/09, Audenge 1 juv 10/9/10
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans) Common breeding visitor
SHORT-TOED EAGLE (Circaetus gallicus) Audenge 2 27/4/07, Res 2 8/9/10
WESTERN MARSH HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus) Fairly common all months, Audenge a pair displaying 12/3/10
HEN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus) Audenge 1 female 12/3/10
MONTAGU'S HARRIER (Circus pygargus) Res 1 juv 8/9/10
EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter nisus) Res 1 26/9/07, 1 11/3/10, Audenge 1 9/9/09, c2 11/9/09
COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo) Fairly scarce - usually single birds sighted
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) 1 Audenge 11/9/09, 1 Res etc 8-10/9/10
COMMON KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus) Fairly scarce - usually single birds sighted
EURASIAN HOBBY (Falco subbuteo) Audenge 1 11/9/09

COMMON PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) Audenge 2 19/3/09, 3 9/9/10

WATER RAIL (Rallus aquaticus) Res max. 8+ 11/3/10, Audenge 8+ 12/3/10
COMMON MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

COMMON CRANE (Grus grus) Res 26 in flight 1/12/09

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) female, Le Teich
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Le Teich
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Le Teich

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralegus) Arcachon c8 27/4/07, 10+ 26/12/08
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus) Res 1 male 8-10/9/09, 1 juv 8/9/10
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta) Res common in winter, max. c120 25/12/08, c110 11/3/10
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius) Res 2 26/4/07, 1 8/9/09, 1 8/9/10
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula) Res max. 400+ 11/9/07
KENTISH PLOVER (Charadrius alexandrinus) Res 2 juvs 11/9/07, Arcachon 1 ad male 2/12/09, Gujan-Mestras 1 ad-winter
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (Pluvialis apricaria) Res 1 adult 11/9/07
GREY PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) Res 14 11/9/07, c20 25/12/08, 20+ 1/12/09, c20 1/12/09, 10+ 8/9/10
NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus) Res fairly common in winter. Audenge 6 (3 pairs?) 12/3/10
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) Common throughout, Res max. 50+ 11/9/07
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) Common on coast, sometimes on reserve
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) Res max. 6+ 11/9/07, small numbers along coast
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta) Fairly common passage migrant, Res max. 20 11/9/07, 15+ 12/3/10; Arcachon 19 2/12/09
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea) Res max. c50 11/9/07 and 8/9/10; can be common on passage
PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima) Arcachon 2 2/12/09
DUNLIN (Calidris alpina) Res max. c500 11/9/07
RUFF (Philomachus pugnax) Res 5 11/9/07, 1 juv 8/9/09, Audenge 3 19/3/09,
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago) Res/Audenge fairly common
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa limosa) Res common winter/passage migrant
BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica) Fairly common on coast, sometimes on reserve; Ares max. 100+ 11/9/07
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) Res 1 ad 10/9/09, 8/9/10; Ares c300 27/4/07, Arcachon 2 10/9/07
EURASIAN CURLEW (Numenius arquata) Res max. 30+ 16/3/08, Audenge c20 19/3/09, 32 12/3/10, Arcachon 50+ 10/3/10
SPOTTED REDSHANK (Tringa erythropus) Res max. c40 8/9/10
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus) Fairly common throughout
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) Fairly common throughout, Res max. c50 8/9/10
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus) Res 5+ 11/9/07, 1 25/12/08, 2 17/3/09, 1 8/9/09, 1 11/3/10, Audenge 2 12/3/10
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) Res c4 8/9/09
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) Fairly common Res/Gujan-Mestras, Res max. 10+ 11/9/07

LITTLE GULL (Larus minutus) Res 2 26/4/07, Plage de la lagune c35 south, 30/11/09, 2 12/3/10
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Larus ridibundus) Common, Res max. 500+ 11/9/07
COMMON (MEW) GULL (Larus canus) Fairly common in winter, Arcachon/Gujan-Mestras
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) Gujan-Mestras 1 19/3/09, 1 10/3/10, Arcachon 1 30/11/09, 2/12/09, 2 10/3/10; all adults
MEDITERRANEAN GULL (Larus melanocephalus) Arcachon max. 25+ 10/3/10; mostly adults
HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus) Common on coast, occasional on reserve
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis) Common on reserve/Gujan-Mestras, Res max. 150+ 26/4/07
GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus) Fairly common Arcachon/Gujan-Mestras, occasional on reserve
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) Fairly common throughout

SANDWICH TERN (Sterna sandvicensis) Common winter/passage on coast, occasional on reserve
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) 1 ad Gujan-Mestras 9/9/10, 4 Audenge 10/9/10
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons) Res 2+ 8/9/09
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) Res 4 26/4/07

Waders Le Teich
Common Teal (Anas crecca), Le Teich
Common Teal (Anas crecca), Le Teich

FERAL PIGEON (Columba sp.)
COMMON WOOD PIGEON (Columba palumbus)
EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

COMMON CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus) Res 2-3 26/4/07

COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus)

COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis) Common Res/Audenge/Gujan-Mestras, Res max. 10+ 11/9/07, 10+ 8/9/09
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops) Res max. 3+ 26/4/07
EURASIAN WRYNECK (Jynx torquilla) Res 1 26/4/07, 1 7/9/10
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos minor) Res 1 11/9/07, Audenge 2 29/9/10, Audenge 2(1 juv) 10/9/10

WOODLARK (Lullula arborea) Audenge 4 12/3/10
EURASIAN SKYLARK (Alauda arvensis) Audenge 3 12/3/10

SAND MARTIN (Riparia riparia) Res 1 17/3/09, 2 18/3/09, Audenge 2 12/3/10, 10+ Res 8/9/10, Audenge 1 10/9/10
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) Audenge early arrivals 20+ 12/3/10
COMMON HOUSE MARTIN (Delichon urbicum) Fairly common breeder

TREE PIPIT (Anthus trivialis) Res 1 10/9/09, Cap Ferret 1 20/3/09
MEADOW PIPIT (Anthus pratensis) Res max. 15 25/12/08
WATER PIPIT (Anthus spinoletta) Arcachon 2 10/3/10, Audenge 3 12/3/10
BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL (Motacilla flava flava) Common passage migrant, Res max. 15 18/3/09, Gujan-Mestras c20 9/9/10
GREY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea) Res 1 18/3/09, 1 11/3/10
WHITE WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba)
(PIED WAGTAIL) (Motacilla alba yarrellii) Audenge 1 male 19/3/09, 1 fem. 12/3/10

WINTER WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)
DUNNOCK (Prunella modularis)
EUROPEAN ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula)
COMMON NIGHTINGALE (Luscinia megarhynchos)
BLUETHROAT (Luscinia svecica) Res c4 27/4/07, 2+ 17/3/08, 6 18/3/09, Audenge 3+ 26-27/4/07
BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros)
COMMON REDSTART (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) Res 1 male 26/4/07, 3 Audenge/Gujan-Mestras 9/9/10, 1 Audenge 10/9/10
WHINCHAT (Saxicola rubetra) Common passage migrant, Audenge max. c20 9/9/09
COMMON STONECHAT (Saxicola torquatus) Audenge max. 8 10/9/10
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe) Common passage migrant, max. 11 Audenge, c20 Gujan-Mestras 9/9/10
REDWING (Turdus iliacus) Res c10 -/12/08, 1 18/3/09, c25 1/12/09, c5 11/3/10
COMMON BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula)
SONG THRUSH (Turdus philomelos)

CETTI’S WARBLER (Cettia cetti)
ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis)
EUROPEAN REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
MELODIOUS WARBLER (Hippolais polyglotta)
COMMON WHITETHROAT (Sylvia communis)
GARDEN WARBLER (Sylvia borin) Res 1 on berries 11/9/09
BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita) Res passage 25+ 8/9/09, 30+ 11/3/10, Audenge 30+ 12/3/10
WILLOW WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochilus) Res passage 20+ 8/9/10, Audenge 25+, Gujan-Mestras 15+ 9/9/10, Audenge 30+ 10/9/10
GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus) Res c5 25/12/08
FIRECREST (Regulus ignicapilla)

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) + Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Le Teich
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Le Teich
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Le Teich

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa striata)
PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hypoleuca) Common passage migrant, Res 5+ 8/9/09, 7+ 8/9/10; Audenge 6 10/9/10

LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus)
CRESTED TIT (Parus cristatus) Plage La Salle Sud 2+ 14/10/15
COAL TIT (Parus ater) Plage La Salle Sud 2 14/10/15
BLUE TIT (Parus caeruleus)
GREAT TIT (Parus major)
EURASIAN NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)
SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla)

EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius)
WESTERN JACKDAW (Corvus monedula) Res 2 8/9/90
CARRION CROW (Corvus corone)
COMMON STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) Res 11 17/3/09, 8 18/3/09. Gujan-Mestras 10+ 20/3/09, 5 2/12/09, 3 12/3/10
COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs)
EUROPEAN SERIN (Serinus serinus)
EURASIAN BULLFINCH (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) Res 3 25/12/08, Audenge 1 heard 12/3/10
EUROPEAN GREENFINCH (Carduelis chloris)
EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis)
EUROPEAN SISKIN (Carduelis spinus) Res 30+ 17/3/09, 20+ 18/3/09, 2 8/9/09, 3 11/3/10. Plage La Salle Sud 2 14/10/15
COMMON LINNET (Carduelis cannabina)
HAWFINCH (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) Res 2 17/3/09
CIRL BUNTING (Emberiza cirlus) Audenge 1 male 11/3/10
COMMON REED BUNTING (Emberiza schoeniclus) Audenge 5+ 19/3/09, 1+ 12/3/10, Gujan-Mestras 1 2/12/09
SNOW BUNTING (Plectrophenax nivalis) Arcachon 1 male 2/12/09

(PINTAIL x MALLARD hybrid, male type, Res 11/3/10)

(SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO Audenge 1 male 19/3/09)


BANDED DEMOISELLE (Calopteryx splendens) - 3 Le Delta 9/2009
WILLOW EMERALD DAMSELFLY (Lestes viridis) - 1 fem Res 9/2009, 1 fem Audenge 9/2010
COMMON WINTER DAMSELFLY (Sympecma fusca) - 1 Res 3/2008, 1 fem Le Delta 9/2009
BLUE-TAILED DAMSELFLY (Ischnura elegans) - Common
MIGRANT HAWKER (Aeshna mixta) - Common
SOUTHERN HAWKER (Aeshna cyanea) - Scarce 9/2009
BRILLIANT EMERALD (Somatochlora metallica) - 1 male Res 9/2009
RUDDY DARTER (Sympetrum sanguineum) - 1 male Le Delta 9/2009
RED-VEINED DARTER (Sympetrum fonscolombii) - 1 male Res 9/2009
COMMON DARTER (Sympetrum striolatum) - c3 Res 9/2009

Mature male Brilliant Emerald, here on the southern edge of lowland European range

WASP SPIDER (Argiope bruennichi) - Fairly common


(?)DAUBENTON'S BAT (Myotis daubentonii) - 1 Reserve 17/3/09
RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus vulgaris) - Fairly common on reserve
WESTERN HEDGEHOG (Erinaceus europaeus) - 1 campsite 9/2009
COYPU (Myocastor coypus) - Common throughout
RED FOX (Vulpes vulpes) - 1 male Reserve 9/2009
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa) - 1 Le Delta 9/2009

EUROPEAN POND TERRAPIN (Emys orbicularis) - Reserve in summer
COMMON WALL LIZARD (Podarcis muralis) - Common throughout summer
GREEN LIZARD (Lacerta bilineata) - Common on Reserve in summer; mostly sub-adults seen