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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

August, 2007
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Wk 1

The country folk here have a saying - "In a year with 13 moons, good weather only comes in the months beginning with "A"". Well, apparently, this year there are 13 moons and here we are in August and the sun is shining for the first sustained period since ....... April! (In French only April(Avril) and August (Août) begin with A as in English).
This impressive butterfly is a regular visitor to our garden, but today was the first time we managed to catch it on camera - credit to Cheryl, our daughter, for this photo.
Otherwise, of special note this week:- the BLACK KITES (Milan Noirs) continue to be seen in good numbers; a pair of WHITETHROAT were in the hedge yesterday; a hare ran along the road in front of the car; Swallows continue to circle noisily overhead; several Peacock caterpillars have been climbing up our house walls; friends who live in the area had great views of a HOOPOE (Huppe Fasciée) which was feeding on their lawn and a SMALL BLUE (L'Azuré Frêle) butterfly busied itself along the side of the road as we walked the dogs down to the river.

 
Nature abounds at gites south Brittany
Swallowtail (Machaon)in
our garden
5th August
Wk 2

A new species for our garden - BROAD-BORDERED BEE HAWK-MOTH (Sphinx-Gazé in French). And a new species for life for me too! It was hovering around our buddleia and was very different from the usual HUMMING-BIRD HAWK-MOTH (seen at the same plant last week). The main thing that struck me was the brown band around its body and the light green colour of the body and the lack of the orange flash of the wing of the other species. According to all my reference books this moth flies from May to June, but be absolutely certain of what I had seen I did some research and came up with a French website (Kriss Nature), which has it flying up into August as well - so that'll do for me. I hurried (carefully!) indoors for the camera ... you can guess the rest! Small Heath (Le Procris), Meadow Brown (Myrtil), Gatekeepers (Amaryllis) Speckled Wood (Le Tircis) and Wall (La Mégère) are still around in our garden and in the lanes nearby.

 
Wildlife at gites south Brittany, Morbihan
Jersey Tiger (L'Ecaille Chinée) - great photo taken by guests to our gîtes on 10th August - on the Buddleia again!
Wk 3 Well, that's it, summer's over! However, there's still plenty of fledglings about (Sparrows{Moineaux} and Long-tailed Tits {Mésanges à Longue Queue}) so plenty of work for the parent birds. This weeks highlight though is well worth a mention - we took a stroll through the woods not far from our house and found CRESTED TITS (Mésanges Huppée) among a mixed flock. Their call is so distinctive, that I stopped and scanned the flock, which otherwise I would have let pass. I always carry my MP3 player with me on which I have saved all my CDs of bird calls - a handy way to check what you hear as once you arrive home you have difficulty in remembering! This is only the third time I have seen Crested Tits in my life - the first in Scotland about 6 years ago and the second here in 2004, when we first moved to France. BLACK KITES and FAN-TAILED WARBLERS (Cisticoles des Joncs) are still present in good numbers, as are SWALLOWS (Hirondelles) and HOUSE MARTINS (Hirondelles de Fenêtre). SWIFT (Martinet noir) numbers have dwindled though - a shame as their screeching call is one of my favourite sounds of all time! The butterflies have been keeping a small profile, but visit a clump on nettles and you see Peacock (Paon-du-jour) caterpillars in very large numbers.
 
Red Underwing Moth gites south Brittany
This rather drab-looking moth, when at rest, surprises you with a flash of bright red in flight. It's quite a sizeable insect - wingspan can reach 8cm.
Wk 4 Along with several other people here, we have given in and lit the fire - during the day!!! It's ridiculous - 16 degrees only on the 21st at 4 pm! The Red Underwing (above) spent the whole day sheltering on our window on Monday and has been added to our list of garden species. The French common name for this moth (or, as they say "Papillon de Nuit" - "Night Butterfly") is Lichénée Rouge. TURTLE DOVES are still around, but probably wishing they were already in warmer climes!!
 

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.