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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
February, 2006
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Wed 1st Dry and sunny again. Today's highlight was a HAWFINCH feeding below the birdfeeder.
Thurs 2nd Cold and overcast. We took the dogs for a walk along the River Vilaine. We have large numbers of Lapwing here at the moment and wherever they are you can be sure to find gulls keeping a watchful eye on them. As soon as the poor, unsuspecting Lapwing finds a tasty meal the gulls bully it until it drops the food for them!
Fri 3rd Dry but dull and cold. There was a Little Owl calling loudly from the oak tree half-way down our garden yesterday evening.
Sat 4th Another dry day. Yesterday evening our two dogs were making a big fuss in the garden - we went to investigate and found them "playing" with an enormous hedgehog - it didn't look very impressed!
Sun 5th
Today was everything you could ask for - you would have thought we were in the middle of spring! We made the most of the beautiful weather and beautiful surroundings and took Gracie and Ficelle for a 3-hour walk along with their two friends, Brad and Tijou (Labradors) and our friends Patricia and Michel. The birds were in full-voice also - a sure sign that spring is not very far away. Later walked down to the local bar, where we enjoyed chatting with the owner and locals and topped off the day with close views of a tawny owl once back home. Formidable!
Mon 6th Duller and cooler than yesterday, but still dry. Yesterday, during our walk we came across a Red Admiral in flight. We still have good numbers of Redwing, although they will soon be thinking about heading off to their breeding areas further east.
Tues 7th Dry again. It's beginning to feel rather like Noah's Ark around here - everywhere we look the birds seem to be in pairs. Two kestrels have just flown past the window together, followed by a pair of Magpies. There were two Robins earlier and, of course, the inevitable 3 Dunnocks (situation normal there then!). Two Little Owls are calling in the garden as I write.
Wed 8th Around 11pm as Paul let the dogs back in from the garden, he had a very clear view of a BARN OWL flying across the garden lit by the exterior light.
Thurs 9th
A beautiful sunny day. The Little Owls have been out and about during the day today - not unusual for this species.
Fri 10th Another wonderful spring-like day. During our walk this evening we saw a Roe Deer. There are still good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare about. Paul spent the day strimming the ditch which runs the length of our land - it needed tidying up and he wanted to make sure it was done before he risked disturbing nesting birds. We had good views of the Little Owl pair again at lunchtime.
Sat 11th Another beautiful, sunny day. We saw a female Hen Harrier quartering a field by the side of the road between St. Cry and Nivillac and I saw a Barn Owl later on as I drove home from a friend's house.
Sun 12th
Slightly overcast, but dry and very pleasant (gosh that sounds posh!). Today was more about dog training and socialising than nature watching. However, we did have around 10 Goldfinches feeding on weed seeds on our gravel patio (organic here, hence a few weeds - which we pull out by hand during the summer!) they were right under the window and absolutely stunning - it isn't all about "ticking lists" with us!
Mon 13th Weather as yesterday. Work got in the way of nature-watching, but at the moment I can see a Heron, in the field next to our garden, stood completely still waiting for a passing ....?
Tues 14th Another dry, sunny day. Two Kestrels were giving a wonderful flying display above the same tree in which they nested last year -ahh! Just right for Valentine's Day!
Wed 15th The wind and rain finally came to Morbihan - I suppose we need the rain for the poor parched garden, so we shouldn't moan!
Thurs 16th
It remained wet and windy for most of the day. We had a large flock (120+) of Redwing in the trees and a HAWFINCH also - he has been a fairly regular visitor throughout the cold weather. I reached for the camera, but he had disappeared by the time I had put the long lense on!
Fri 17th Sunny spells with scattered showers. We at last had the chance to give the "girls" a decent walk again - 2 hours - during which we witnessed a pair of Buzzards displaying and heard several Skylarks singing.
Sat 18th Today reminded us of April - sun and showers! Whilst eating our lunch we enjoyed watching a Kestrel hunting in the garden ... this bird seems to be slightly lazy, as he always perches on a branch instead of hovering. It makes sense, though, as he will be conserving energy and he still manages to catch things.
Sun 19th The temperature reached 10 degrees, some showers but otherwise sunny. We had 3 Yellowhammers in the garden today, which takes us to 75 species of bird recorded.
Tues 21st
A lot of rain yesterday, but it was dry today. A Yellowhammer was singing his famous "a little bit of bread and no cheeeeeese" today in the garden. We still have good numbers of Redwing, but they will leave shortly. Yesterday we observed a pair of Magpies collecting twigs in the garden and leaving with them.
Wed 22nd Dry but cold. We are getting quite attached to "our lazy Kestrel". He/she was hunting in the garden again and as usual did not hover, but sat perched on fence posts and branches. We are quite disappointed that we haven't seen the Hen Harriers (male and female) for a while - we haven't had as much time to walk down to their local patch, but when we have they have been absent. Perhaps we will be cheered up by the arrival of the Black Kites, which should start appearing within a couple of weeks.
Fri 24th It remained dry but turned colder today. We took the girls for a walk through the woods this afternoon and they spooked a Roe Deer, which then ran across the path only a few feet from us! Being well-trained they thought about giving chase, but responded to the whistle and came back to us. About half an hour later, having left the woods, we were surprised ourselves to see 2 BARN OWLS flying into a hole in a cottage wall - and it was only 4 pm.
Mon 27th We twice visited the Barn Owl nest over the weekend - but saw nothing. According to the books, though, they should be laying eggs sometime soon. In fact, things have been generally quiet on the bird front.
 

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.