Val d’Allier Sanctuary, Allier’s bird paradise

It looks like the South, or at least the Camargue. Val d’Allier National Reserve is a paradise for birds but also for those who love to observe them. South of the Moulins spread across nine municipalities from Bressolles to Monétay and from Toulon-sur-Allier to La Ferté Hauterive, the reserve is home to more than 280 species of birds.

It is this diversity that allowed volunteer ornithologists to create the reserve in the 1970s. Guillaume Le Roux, curator of the reserve, explains: “This richness is explained by diversity. of the living environment. Val d’Allier starts from the water channel to go to the woods. For example, there are sand and pebbles that are inhabited by special species such as the small ringed bird and the rock-curved species. We also have lawns where there is low vegetation. The reserve also has grasslands, standing water, wastelands, shrublands…”

In addition to the species that live in the reserve year-round, many species of swiftlets are there during the breeding period, which lasts from early April to late July, depending on the bird species. For several years now, a few Ospreys have lived there. This species has not nested in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes since the 1960s.

Why the return of a falcon couple in Allier is a great win

So when a couple nested in 2018, in the heart of a nature reserve, at La Ferté-Hauterive, between Moulins and Vichy, the event was seen as a victory, proof that conservation Environmental protection has paid off.

Animated and guided walks

Because that is the purpose of the reserve: to protect the environment. But it is also a matter of being open to the public while limiting the impact of visitors. “For several years now, a development plan has been put in place with nine centrally-run cities. Guillaume Le Roux explains 10 identified places from which marked hiking trails begin. Therefore, it is important when you enter there to respect certain rules, such as do not stray from the path, do not scream… Dogs, even when chained, are prohibited. To be able to observe birds in the summer, Guillaume Le Roux recommends going for a walk in the morning, with long and patient binoculars or binoculars.

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The easiest way is probably to join a nature outing organized by the LPO. Guided tours of the reserve on Monday and Friday mornings, family entertainment on Wednesday mornings, canoe trips, nighttime walks on Thursday evenings and entertainment program for children on Friday afternoons.

How to reconcile the development of canoes and respect for nature on the Allier River?

To learn more about the reserve, visitors can also visit the Maison de la Rivière, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 2pm to 6pm, at 8 boulevard de Nomazy, in Moulins.

Full entertainment schedule here


The 1,450-hectare reserve extends along 21 km of the Allier River through the municipalities of Bressolles, Toulon-sur-Allier, Chemilly, Bessay-sur-Allier, Châtel-de-Neuvre, La Ferté-Hauterive, Monétay-Sur- Allier, Saint-Loup and Contigny.
The Val d’Allier reserve is open to visitors with about 10 free access points by car. Trails have been established for site exploration thanks to thematic boards installed in each town and at the reserve’s main entry points. The latter is clearly still subject to reserve management regulations. Nature walks are organized to explore the world of birds with the company of a nature guide.
There are many species of birds there. In about forty habitats, about a hundred sedentary local nests of small flying birds are installed there such as kingfishers, even summer nests such as white storks, small terns or even even wintering species such as the golden or black woodpecker. More than 150 migratory species rest there. In total, almost 80% of the Auvergne ornithology live here and form France’s second bird reserve after the Camargue.

Marie Collinet


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