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.

Nature Notes from La Belle Vilaine Gites, Brittany
March 2008

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Wk 4
On Tuesday an early-evening's birdwatching trip brought its reward with several Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Spoonbill, Sacred Ibis, hundreds of hirundines and then the pièce de résistance - not one, but two or more booming Bitterns (Butor étoilé). It was cold and getting dark, so what did we do? We hung around ..... result - excellent views of a Bittern flying just above head height only a few feet away.

On Monday we went on an hour and a half guided walk round the salt marshes called 'Sel et Nature' a very interesting walk with a very good guide. We learnt all about how the marshes were formed, how the salt is collected and why they have such a rich ecosystem. We saw several Marsh Harriers, 3 Avocets and 1 Great White Egret (Grande Aigrette), which was the highlight of the walk!. Unfortunately, with the bad weather, the birds were lying low and so we did not see as many birds as we would have hoped for!

Reports are still coming in of Redwing and Fieldfare further north and, conversely, one reporter heard her first Cuckoo (coucou gris) of the year on Thursday.
Wk 3

The highlight of the week was the HOOPOE (Huppe faciée) which claimed its title of the first of the year on Tuesday (18th). This was followed by a report from a close neighbour who had a pair in his orchard a couple of days later.

The weather continued to be blustery, wet and cold, with just one day of sunshine. More and more reports of singing Chiffchaff (Pouillot véloce) are coming in to me from all over Brittany . Cheryl had an interesting afternoon's birdwatching at nearby marshes yesterday, reporting 10 Spoonbills (Spatule Blanche), 8 Avocet (Avocette Elégante), 3 Greylag Geese (Oie Cendrée), 10 Marsh Harriers (Busard des Roseaux), 1 Black Kite (Milan Noir), singing Skylark (Alouette des Champs), 2 Cetti's Warbler (Bouscarle de Cetti). Also 100+ Sand Martins (Hirondelle de Rivage). The whole area was flooded and the hides unattainable!

There have been some reports of small numbers of Fieldfare (Grive litorne) and Redwing (Grive mauve) - the former being on the 16 th and the latter on the 11 th . The same observer has recorded a regular flock of 10+ Yellowhammers (Bruant jaune).

We had great excitement here on Thursday when late in the afternoon a RED KITE ( Milan royal) flew right over the garden! Then yesterday (16 th ) a BLACK KITE ( Milan noir) spent quite some time quartering the garden and neighbouring fields.
Butterflies have, understandably, been keeping a low profile this week just 3 sightings of Brimstone (Citron).

Wk 2
Welcome back CHIFFCHAFFS (Pouillot véloce) - first ones of the year singing today (Sunday 9th). Also during our walk today we found several CRESTED TIT (Mésange hupée), Goldcrest (Roitelet huppé), Short-toed Treecreeper (Grimpereau des jardins) and a pair of displaying Buzzards (Buse variable). As I sit typing there is a female HEN HARRIER (Busard Saint-Martin) quartering the field outside the window. We also still had a sizeable flock of Fieldfare (Grive litorne) still present on 4th.
Among other reports from the region this week were also Chiffchaff (6th).
Wk 2
This newly-emerged Speckled Wood is typical of the European species - more orange that the UK species and, therefore, could be confused with a Wall. Look for the wavy edges to the wings to help with identification.
( Tircis in French )
Nature in Brittany
Wk 2
Wildlife gites south brittany
This Oak Beauty (La Marbrée)
has spent the whole day resting on our house wall (8th March).
Week 1

The unusually mild weather has encouraged many plants to flower earlier than normal - Blackthorn (Epine noire), Lesser Celandine (Fricaire - in flower since late January), Wood Anemones (anémone sylvie/des bois), Marsh Marigold (souci d'eau/des marais), Broom and primroses (Primevère) amongst the wild plants and Daffodil, Mimosa and even Magnolia amongst the garden plants.
We still have some of our wintering species of bird around though - good numbers of Fieldfare (Grive Litorne) are still being reported around Brittany along with smaller numbers of Redwing (Grive mauvis).
Toadspawn is being "laid" in ponds and frogspawn hatched out in February in some places.
Quite a few butterfly species have now been reported flying - I have seen Brimstone (Citron), Peacock (Paon du jour) and Wall (La Mégère) during the last week.
A big thank you to all those who have sent me their sightings - keep up the good work.

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.