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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

January - February 2010 - scroll down page for these reports

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


Click here for a full (bi-lingual) list of Birds, Butterflies and Moths 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.

Use REFRESH button (on your tool bar) to ensure the page is up-to-date.

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 4 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. Each report is now divided between the groups of species - Bird, Butterfly, Moth, Dragonfly and Mamal.
One of the best times of year to visit to see the wildlife is in April and May.

Sightings of Black Woodpecker (Pic noir) became a regular occurrence during January and early February. We have identified a stand of trees, amongst which are several dead trunks that are regularly used by this species – this is just a 2 minute walk from home!

The Crested Tits (Mésange huppée) have been around in their usual good numbers in the wood along the lane.

Evidence of the onset of Spring and the breeding season are all around us – Great Tits (Mésonge Charbonnière) have been singing since early January; a pair of Magpies (Pie bavarde) have almost completed their nest at the top of one of our oak trees (chêne); the Stonechat (Tarier Pâtre) males are looking very colourful and Robins (Rougegorge), Song Thrushes (Grive musicienne), Blackbirds (Merle), Dunnocks (Accenteur mouchet) and Starlings (Etourneau sansonnet) are all busy pairing up.

The Cirl Buntings (Bruant zizi) have begun singing “A little bit of bread” - distinguishing themselves from the Yellowhammers (Bruant jaune), who sing “A little bit of bread and no cheese”. I have never been quite sure if this means that the Cirl Buntings have cheese!!!

I watched a Barn Owl (Effraie des clochers) quartering a field as I drove home on Thursday evening (11th Feb). Paul heard a Tawny Owl (Chouette-hulotte) calling from a tree in the garden yesterday evening (12th Feb). Conversely the Little Owls (Chevêche d'Athéna) in the village that had been so vociferous during the winter have quietened somewhat.

Cheryl spotted a male Hen Harrier (Busard Saint-Martin) quartering the field at the bottom of our garden on Monday (8th Feb).

Remnants of winter visitors are still around :–

Cattle Egret (Héron Gardeboeuf) numbers never reached the heights of last winter, but a small flock of 6 – 8 individuals have been regular visitors to the fields around the garden;
Fieldfare (Grive litorne) are ever-present and treat us to their understated “chucking” call daily;
Redwings (Grive mauvis) – have been around, but in lower numbers than other years;
Bramblings (Pinson du nord) – I may have seen one this winter, but they are usually around in decent numbers. I caught a flash of a white rump amongst at flock of finches that flew up as I drove past;
Lapwings (Vanneau huppée) – big flocks are to be found in the fields bordering the road from here to Nivillac. They often perform their Starling flock impersonation – swooping and turning as one!!!

Further afield an Osprey (Balbuzard pêcheur) was sighted at the nature reserve near Vannes – under 30 minutes from us.

During the next month we expect to see many migrant species arrive, including one of my favourites – the Black Kite (Milan noir), which can arrive as early as the end of February. Check out my archived reports to see the full story of species we hope to welcome “home” soon – the White Stork (Cygogne blanche), Bluethroat (Gorgeblue à mirroir) and Hoopoe (Huppe fasciée), for example.

Butterflies

The first butterfly this year was a Speckled Wood (Tircis), which I found on our back doorstep in the first week of February. It was a very fresh specimen, but had been caught by our youngest cat and could only flutter weakly when I rescued it! But sightings of insects will surely begin to take their place in my reports again very soon!

Other Species

The local Red Squirrels are very busy and visible as a result.

We have had many sunny (if cold) days lately and any day now we can expect to catch a glimpse of the large Green Lizards basking on the banks along the lane from home.

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.