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The pass of Organbidexka is a breathtaking spot to observe migratory and local birds.
Located in the Basque country in the heart of the largest beech tree forest of Europe, the Organbidexka pass is one of the most fabulous spots in France to observe raptors and migratory birds. Located at 1238m, 300 m down the "Chalets d'Irati", the pass will give you a marvelous panorama of the Haute-Soule and the majestuous pic of Orhi, the highest mountain in the area. If you plan to stay there a few days (and you definitely should!), you will have plenty of opportunities to try several hikes from the pass of Organbidexka, including to the pic of Orhi.
An annual study program of the fall migration of birds across the Pyrenees takes place every year in that place, from the 15th of July until the 15th of November. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded, flying over the pass, most of them on their way to Africa. This is a marvelous spot to observe migratory raptors such as the Black Kite (more than 4000, especially mid-August), the European Honey-buzzard (end of August), the Osprey,Short-toed Snake Eagle, Eurasian Kestrel, Red Kite. One year, we saw the extremely rare Pallid Harrier flying over the pass ! Huge numbers of Common Swift but also waders such as Black Stork and White Stork, Common Crane and thousands of passerine birds also fly over the pass during that period. If you walk alongside the crète of Organbidexka, you might be lucky enough to encounter the very rare and endemicWhite-backed Woodpecker. Of course, you will see plenty of the local birds including the magnificient Bearded Vulture,Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and Peregrine Falcon.
Make sure to bring your binoculars and/or scope. You can also bring a little chair if you plan to stay there all day. The staff and volunteers from the LPO (Ligue for Protection of Birds) will be there to answer your questions and interact with you if needed. The spot is really exposed to wind so make sure to bring layers of clothes that you can quicly put on or remove. The weather changes really quicly at this altitude and a sudden fog is really common.
Halfway 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. You can park close to the "Restaurant d'Iraty" and visit the "chalet ornitho" where you can get valuable information about the migration. From there, follow the road (going down - 300m) until you see a green hill on your left, that's the pass of Organbidexka. You will probably spot the naturalists standing there, surveying the migration on a daily basis. The area is accessible by bike but it is really difficult, do this only if you are used to bike in the mountains (1238m of altitude).