Self-Catering Holiday Gite Accommodation South Brittany France

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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.

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Week 3 As more and more birds are pairing-up ready for the coming breeding season we have been busy clearing pathways and putting up nestboxes and feeders in a friend's mixed woodland nearby, on the banks of the river. As we worked away today we were serenaded by several species of bird including Nuthatch (Sittelle tourchepot)and CRESTED TIT. There is also evidence of RED SQUIRREL and an old nest which may have belonged to either a Buzzard (Buse variable)or a BLACK KITE (Milan noir). So we are very excited about this new opportunity, I know we will be spending many hours there in total privacy with camera and binoculars to hand!
Week 2 In all it has been a very sunny week, if at times cold. Sightings included a pair of Buzzards mating, Peacock (Paon du jour) butterflies and a LARGE TORTOISESHELL (Grande tortue), which was rather shabby but a nice surprise. Whilst these are all signs of spring, the Fieldfare (Grive Litorne) don't seem to agree as they are still around in good numbers - a flock of a couple of hundred that we have regularly seen feeding in a field that has been left to stubble (a good advert for old-fashioned farming methods).
On Tuesday evening we had our best views yet of CRESTED TIT (Mésange huppée) as they flitted about in the pine trees at eye-level just a few feet infront of us for a good few minutes. On Wednesday evening we again heard BLACK WOODPECKER (Pic noir) in the same woods very close to our house. Yesterday we had very good views of a HARE (Lièvre) for several minutes near the river and earlier in the week a RED SQUIRREL (Ecureuil) dashed across the road just infront of my car. Cheryl saw a BARN OWL (Effraie des clochers) just along the road last night around 7pm as she drove home.
Wildlife awakes in Brittany
Large Tortoiseshell - photograph taken on my mobile on 17th Feb.
Week 1

The month began cold and wet and very windy. But things are brightening up and we have had sunshine and good temperatures for the last few days. The final reports came in from the Brittany Garden Birdwatch (which I organised on a local Forum) and I put together a final report (see below) which I also posted on the Forum. The support was so encouraging that I set up another post asking people for sightings. So far this has brought reports of:
Tuesday 29th Jan - Frogspawn hatched.
Sunday 3rd Feb - Peacock (Paon du jour) butterfly flying.
Thursday 7th Feb - Peacock and Brimstone (Citron)butterflies flying.
Also had a lovely story about a group of 8 Blue tits (Mésange bleue), which enter a greenhouse via a small hole in the glass each evening and then fail to find their way out the following morning - the garden owner has to make it his first job of the morning to open the greenhouse door to let them escape!

Personal sightings this week: Lesser Celandine (Ficaire) in flower; Redwing (Grive mauvis)and Fieldfare (Grive Litorne)still around (the former just a single bird); Cattle Egrets (Héron Gardeboeufs) (flock of about 20);Song Thrush (Grive musicienne), Dunnock (Accenteur mouchet), Robin (Rouge-gorge), Blackbird (Merle noir) and BLACK WOODPECKER (PIC NOIR) singing.
Today (Saturday 9th) a pair of Magies (Pie bavarde) nest-building in an Oak (Chêne) nearby.


Brittany Garden Birdwatch - 26/27 Jan 2008
In all 29 gardens were surveyed, the largest number (15) were spread across the Morbihan region (56), with Finistère (29) and Côtes d'Armor (22) sharing the remaining gardens equally.

The size of properties ranged from a few hundred metres to several hectares although in all cases the area surveyed would have been just the garden, visible from the house. Habitats ranged from towns to farmland and from woodland to coastal areas. Most reports featured on the Forum, some were e-mailed to me privately all have been included in this final report. I think, therefore, it is fair to say that, even if the number of gardens involved represented a mere drop in the ocean, we have achieved a fairly evenly-spread survey and that the results could be said to give a true picture of the birds in Brittany's gardens. Thank you.


Number of gardens reporting species

(of 29)


Total numbers reported (where necessary to give final position)



Rouge-gorge familier

Blue Tit


Mésange bleue



Merle noir




Great Tit


Mésange charbonnière



Verdier d'Europe

House Sparrow


Moineau domestique




36 individuals



Accenteur mouchet

32 individuals



Pie bavarde

Song Thrush


Grive musicienne



Geai des chênes

Surprises Collared Dove (Tourterelle torque) only present in 9 gardens it was number 5 in the RSPB count last year.

- Goldfinch (Chardonneret) not a single report (although we had 9 in our garden the following Sunday!) - it was number 7 in the UK last year.

- Carrion Crow (Corneille noire) only 8 reports for the bird that came 3 rd last year in the UK

- Tree Sparrow (Moineau friquet) reported in 6 gardens spread throughout the region. Doesn't appear in Top 15 in the UK for 2007 (no surprise there).

- Starling (Etourneau sansonnet) only present in 6 gardens was number 14 in UK last year.

Some other facts that I could be bothered to work out (not very scientific of me I know!) :

- House Sparrows averaged 5.8 birds per garden surveyed.

- Greenfinches averaged 4.8 birds per garden surveyed

Click here to see the latest nature photos taken in our garden

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.