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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 2009

to return the the archives index

La Belle Vilaine plant list - CLICK HERE .

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

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.

Sunday 15th -
February is proving to be sunny and dry so far if you discount the storms of the night of the 9th. The wildlife seems to be waking up and we are treated to bird song daily. My favourite of the moment is the song of the Woodlark (Alouette lulu) which can be heard daily singing from the wood near the house. Song Thrushes (Grive musicienne) also serenade us daily and we can still hear the chuckling call of Fieldfares (Grive litorne), who will no doubt be turning their minds to migration before long. A male Cirl Bunting (Bruant zizi) was singing in the hedgerow at the beginning of the week.

We have also enjoyed watching Barn Owls (Effraie des clochers) hunting low over the fields as dusk falls on two evenings this week, with still enough light to get a really good view.

A walk with the dogs on Thursday (12th) morning brought a Great White Egret (Grande Aigrette) fishing in a nearby fishing lake. On Friday we walked along the beach and got close up to many Oystercatchers (Huitrier Pie).

Even more exciting was the sight of a Black Woodpecker (Pic noir) flying over the garden as I chatted on the phone yesterday afternoon (14th). I just managed to get my binoculars up with my free hand to confirm my identification this large woodpecker, the size of a crow, has a very distinctive look about it in flight. The undulating flight proves that it is not a crow and the size shows us that it is not another woodpecker species. The red crown, visible in my binoculars, was literally the crowning glory! These birds breed in the area and we often see or hear them in the vicinity, but it still remains a thrill.

We still have daily visits from the flock of Cattle Egrets (Héron Garde-boeufs), which reached a high count of 16 this week.

A neighbour reported having witnessed a pair of Magpies (Pie Bavarde) nest-building this morning (14th).

Yet another sign of the coming spring was our first moth sighting of the year - a Dotted Border (Hibernie hâtive) - which alighted on the window on the evening of the 12th with a second on the evening of the 14th. Then came the first butterfly sighting of the year a bright yellow male Brimstone (Citron) flying alongside the road as we drove back home from the beach (13th).

As we walked the dogs along the lane this morning we surprised a roe deer (Chevreuil) which ran across infront of us - requiring some quick thinking on our part to keep Gracie and Ficelle to heel (they are seldom on a lead here).

Also of note is that the Mimosa trees have been in flower since the end of January.

Our local Nature Conservation Trust, Bretagne Vivante, is celebrating it's 50 th anniversary this year and the Nature Reserve near Vannes is holding 3 days of special events over the 5th, 6th and 7th of June . This will include a 24-hour challenge on the middle day to carry out an in-depth census of the flora and fauna of the reserve. If you are interested in attending these, then contact us and we will let you have more information - we currently have vacancies for that week.

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.