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.

 
Wk 1 The weather continues to be unusually warm for the time of year - regularly around 13 or even 15 degrees. The threat of floods higher up the river valley (Redon and Rennes) has led to the decision to open the barage at Arzal on several occasions - effectively "emptying" the river! The level is down by at least 1.5 meters - and that in the marina at La Roche-Bernard!!! Several boats are aground - ours has only 40 cm below the keel! Any fish that are swept away by this action have a man-made passage available in the barage (a local visitor attraction with guided tours) to get them back home! Otherwise, the warm weather has set things moving in the bird world. "Our" Kestrel has been checking out last year's nest this morning. Sadly the young perished last year during terrible weather at the end of May - lets keep our fingers crossed for a successful brood this year. We walked along the cliffs at Penestin last Tuesday afternoon and witnessed a pair of Black-headed Gulls doing a courtship display.
Wk 2 Continued warm weather (and lots of sunshine today - Sunday 14th) has meant that friends are reporting butterfly sightings (I suspect Brimstone which can be seen during January on sunny days) and that I am still unable to find any Brambling or Hawfinch etc. Numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing seem to be down on last year also - it makes sense, as they will not trouble to head south if the weather is mild further north. On Tuesday I stopped to eat a sandwich at lunchtime (in the car) overlooking the estuary (Vilaine) and counted 3 Black-headed gulls with full black heads (breeding plumage). The water level is up to normal again in the Vilaine (see week 1 above), which isn't surprising as, during a trip to Redon earlier this week, we witnessed flooded fields and very high, fast-flowing tributaries feeding the river.
Wk3 Despite lots of rain and very strong winds the weather remains warm and the Song Thrushes are singing. Today (Sun 21st) we finally got some sunshine and so walked the 14 km circuit from St. Dolay, which takes you over hill and down dale around the marshes. We saw a RED ADMIRAL and some "bumble" bees in flight. Bird highlights included both male and female HEN HARRIER, Lesser and Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Cetti's Warbler (heard). We also came across a new-born lamb.
Wk 4 The weather turned cold at the beginning of the week, but stayed dry (no snow here!!) and the temperature has begun to creep back up again. Harry the cat alerted me to something outside the window - a female Hen Harrier flying past only yards away, she was flying very low and slowly hunting for food. Harry needs to pick his prey a bit more sensibly! Today a Cirl Bunting was huddled in the oak tree just a few feet from me. Yesterday Paul and I walked the dogs through the woods near our home and heard a BLACK WOODPECKER (we saw these birds regularly at this time last year, but they seem to be less abundant at the moment) and then Gracie alerted us to something - a RED SQUIRREL was "pretending not to be there" half-way up a tree just to the left of the path! Another highlight of the week was a FIRECREST - again in the hedge just outside the office window.
 
Click here to see 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.