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Bienvenue à La Belle Vilaine
Self-catering, holiday cottages on the South Brittany/Loire Atlantique border in France.
Friendly family run gite accommodation where dogs are welcome.

Nature Notes from La Belle Vilaine Gites, Brittany

April 2009

New user-friendly archives - Easy access to all previous Nature Notes dating back to November 2005 -
CLICK HERE


Click here for a full (bi-lingual) list of Birds and Butterflies seen in our garden

Birdwatching holidays in South Brittany and Loire Atlantique. See bottom of page for details.

Possibility of Tuesday changeovers - trial period for cheaper ferry crossings. Contact us.

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If you are planning a holiday and wish to know what species are possible at certain times of the year, please refer to the Archives page. As we now have over 2 years of month by month archives and numerous photos of species recorded available we have decided to condense the Nature Notes into monthly report at the end of the month.

Always an exciting month here, this year April has not disappointed. The best news being the sighting of 2 new species here. Both seen on 23 rd .

DARTFORD WARBLER (Fauvette pitchou) - on the edge of the woods very close to home in an area of scrub. We first saw it on Thursday evening (23 rd ) and I have just checked again this morning (25 th ) and he is still there.

WOOD WHITE – (Pièride de la Moutarde) – seen during my lunch hour along the Vilaine Estuary. I have done some research, knowing that Réal's Wood White has recently been described (2001) as a separated species and also that in order to distinguish the two you need to study the genitalia! Anyway, according to the list of species recorded in Morbihan, Wood White is the only option. The closest Réal's has been recorded is in Indre et Loire , which is quite a way east of here.

Birds

Melodious Warbler (Hypolais polyglotte) singing (and showing) along the lane on Wed 29th and again on 30th.

Turtle Dove (Tourterelle des bois) - first one of the year heard and then seen on Thursday 30th, again just along the lane.

Cuckoos (Coucou gris) and Hoopoes (Huppe fasciée) both arrived later this year than last. Although we did record a Hoopoe on 29 th March, they were not around in good numbers until the second week of April. But we are now enjoying both species daily. The Hoopoes are again present in the area they nested last year.

Sedge Warblers (Phragmite des joncs) – first recorded on 2 nd , but now around in good numbers singing and parachuting away

Fan-tailed Warblers (Cisticole des joncs) are “chipping” away in many locations.

Swift (Martinet noir) – one only so far. Over the garden on 15 th . Although this species hunts here, they are not seen regularly, preferring the town. I love hearing them screeching above La Roche Bernard.

Black Redstarts (Rougequeue noir) – a pair seem to be nesting in the church in the main square in La Roche Bernard.

Cirl Buntings (Bruant zizi) and Yellowhammers (Bruant jaune) both present and singing. One of the pairs of Cirls occupying the same nest site as last year. A Cirl Bunting is singing in the hedge outside the door as I type!

Black Kites ( Milan noir) – are once again a permanent fixture here. A pair seems to be occupying the same area in the wood as we think they nested last year.

Hobby (Faucon hobbereau) - flew over the garden on 25th.

Herons (Héron cendrée) – the heronry is a hive of activity with at least 6 nests occupied.

Housemartins (Hirondelle de fenêtre) – busy building nests in the towns. In our hamlet we only have Swallows (Hirondelle rustique) breeding, as we are rural. Unfortunately, one pair of Swallows are building their nest in an old house which belongs to our elderly neighbour and which she uses for storage. This happens every year. Our neighbour leaves the door open all day, but shuts it at night. Every morning the poor adults can be found waiting on the telegraph wire until the door is opened – inevitably, the nest fails every year. I have tried to persuade her to either leave the door open at night, shut it all the time, or to cut a small hole in it for access – but she is convinced the Swallows' nest is fine. Luckily there are lots of other successful nests in the hamlet.

Other active nests we have in our garden at the moment include:–

Robin (Rougegorge), Song Thrush (Grive musicienne), Blackbird (Merle), Dunnock (Accenteur mouchet), Magpie (Pie bavarde), Blackcap (Fauvette à tête noire) and Wren (Troglodyte mignon). Just in the next field, a pair of Kestrel (Faucon crecerelle) has a nest. Whitethroat (Fauvette grise) are nesting in the hedge just along the lane, the male is very vocal every time we pass by.

White Storks (Cygogne blanche) – we visited the colony a couple of weeks ago to find several nests occupied and lots of activity. This colony is about a 30 minute drive from here.

Bluethroats (Gorgebleue) have now arrived in the marshes.

Further afield, Black-winged Stilts (Echasse blanche) have been reported in the marshes.

Butterflies

Amongst the butterflies on the wing:

Swallowtail (Machaon) – again first specimen of this year seen 23 rd .

Orange Tip (Aurore Prntanière) – seen throughout the month

Green-veined White (Pièride du navet) – seen from mid-month

Small Copper (Cuivré commun)

Dragonflies:

Broad-bodied Chaser (La libellule déprimée) – immature just emmerged 23rd

Moths

Encouraged by the sight of several moths around the windows at night and a Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (La Rouillée) in the house one morning I set up the moth trap on the night of 12 th and had the following catch:

Brindled Beauty

Phalène hérissée  

Early Thorn

Ennomos illunaire  

Lunar Thorn

Ennomos lunaire

Lunar Marbled Brown

Demi-lune noire

Muslin

la mendiante

White Ermine

l'Écaille tigrée  

Pale Prominent

Le Museau

Blossom Underwing

l'orthosie rougeoyante

Hebrew Character

la gothique

Early Grey

La Noctuelle areolée

Frosted Green

La Rieuse

Common Quaker

l'orthosie du cerisier

Plants:

Bluebelles (Jacinthe des bois) are in bloom

Greater Celandine ( Chelidonium majus) is also in flower.

Green-winged Orchids a plenty in flower.

La Belle Vilaine plant list - CLICK HERE .
Let us use our extensive local knowledge to help you to look for exciting species such as:
Bluethroat, Black Kite, Black-winged Stilt, Whiskered and Black Tern, Hoopoe, Black Woodpecker,
Red Squirrel, Camberwell Beauty, Swallowtail .... Click here for details of our last-minute deals for mid season breaks at low season prices.
Birdwatching breaks available all year.
White Stork breeding colony - see photos in July 08 Notes.
Moth trapping evenings for our guests here at La Belle Vilaine.

La Belle Vilaine
Self-catering, holiday cottages on the South Brittany/Loire Atlantique border in France.
Friendly family run gite accommodation where dogs are welcome.