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Excellent well organised reserve with on site help from students in the summer. 272 birdspecies have been seen here.
The reserve of St Denis du Payre is part of the Marais Poitevin. The clay soil in the reserve is impermeable and therefore retains rainwater in the "baisses" (wet hollows). This, along with the "belles" (higher, dryer areas), forms a micro-relief which is extremely beneficial to biodiversity. 272 species of bird have been spotted in the reserve.
The migration periods, from late February to May and from late June to October, are very good for birding. You can see migratory birds species like Common Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and various birds of prey. Between 40 and 50 different species (excluding passerines) can be identified during these periods on a single day. Also Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff can be seen. And a great many other.
In winter you can see many geese and ducks and also Common Crane. These birds are accompanied, amongst others, by Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and European Golden Plover. Even though there are fewer species (about 30 per day) than in the migratory period, the area is definitely worth the visit.
Note: the area is not freely accessible! Pre-booking is necessary for access to the area, you can't get in without a ticket/reservation, see below.
The village of Saint-Denis-du-Payré is halfway between Luçon and l'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, in Vendée, a little over half an hour away from La Rochelle and La Roche-sur-Yon. There is a small car park on site. Suitable for bicycles. Note that the area is not freely accessible and you have to make a reservation. You can't get in without a ticket/reservation. Daily there are 4 reservation times. You can book at the Tourist Office in Saint-Denis-de-Payre (Closed from 12 noon to 2.30 pm). Reservations can also be made by telephone and then pay (the entrance fee of € 5.00) to the guide.
Entrance fee is 5 euro (opening times depend on the season, see the link below for info). Situated in the heart of the reserve is a very luxureous hide. The hide has a surface area of 63 m², has adjustable seats and is equipped with 18 telecopes. Nature guides are always there. The visitor center of reserve is located in the village of Saint-Denis-du-Payré, 3 km from the reserve.