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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 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.

Birds
Black Kites ( Milan noir) – three flew over the garden on 18 th and further sightings of individuals over the garden came on 19 th and 20 th .

Swallows (Hirondelle rustique) – Three flew over my car in Pénéstin on 18 th . Two were over our garden on 20 th and another on 21 st .

Sedge Warblers (Phragmite des joncs) – several individuals singing and parachute displaying over the reed beds in Pénéstin on 18 th .

Chiffchaff (Pouillot véloce) – singing on 18 th in Pénéstin and again along our lane on 21 st .

Cattle Egrets (Héron Gardeboeuf) – a group of 7 continue to patrol the fields surrounding our garden and on the 12 th two individuals actually came into the garden and hung around the agility course. This was repeated on 13 th .

A Grey Heron (Héron gris) visited the pond on the 11 th .

Black woodpecker (Pic noir) – continue to be heard in the woods close to our garden (first and second week). The calls vary from a “buzzard impersonation” through to a rendition of what I call their “Nights in Africa ” call (like cicadas calling).

Crested tits (Mésange huppée) – are still around in good numbers in the same woods. These lovely little birds leave us briefly to breed in the area; our local wood must be lacking something obviously! We hear and see them in the area during the summer, so they obviously find better nesting sites close by.

Little Owls (Chouette chevêche) - are very vocal both by day and in the evenings. One has his favourite perch on a chimney on the roof of a house in our hamlet.

Woodlark (Allouette lulu) – began singing again very close to home on 12 th

Cirl Bunting (Bruant zizi) – several singing males around the garden. One was singing in the same tree as they have nested in for the past two years.

Stonechat (Tarier pâtre) – singing male near home on 21 st .

Song Thrush (Grive mélodieuse) – at least 2 pairs are regularly seen feeding in our garden and I have been hearing this species' beautiful song for about 3 weeks now.

Mistle Thrush (Grive draine) – a pair are now regular visitors to our garden.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pic épeiche) – a pair busy in the woods (13 th ), one drumming whilst the other kept watch in a nearby dead tree.

Short-toed Treecreeper (Grimpereau des jardins) – one seen busy feeding on a dead tree on 21 st .

Buzzard (Buse variable) – several pairs have been seen circling together over the fields and woods nearby.

Magpie (Pie bavarde) – a pair began building a nest in one of our oaks (chêne) in mid February. That nest was later abandoned, but then another was started almost immediately just a few feet away in the same tree. This nest is now almost complete – sporting the customary “roof”. Whether built by the same pair or not, I cannot say.

Butterflies

Brimstone (Citron) – seen flying on 11th. Numbers increased to a count of 8+ Brimstone males during a short walk from home on 15th.

3+ Peacock (Le Paon du jour) - seen on 15th.
1 Large Tortoishelle (La Grande Tortue) – again on 15th
1 Comma (Robert le Diable) – seen on 16th.

Other Species

As the month began we were very excited to find our very first frogspawn in our pond. By 13th there were 5 clumps. This increased to 6 clumps by 21st and the first tadpoles were emerging from the earlier spawn.

Green Lizard (Lézard vert) – One was sunning himself just at the entrance to his popping out burrow along the lane as the temperatures climbed to 17° on 15th. We also saw several Common Lizards, which are very much smaller.

Red Squirrel (Ecureuil roux) - are very busy feeding up after the long winter. We are seeing these lovely fellows regularly during our walks with the dogs and are finding lots of freshly-nibbled fir cones strewn along the path through the woods above the river.

Lesser Celandine (Fricaire) is finally in flower, first showing on 15th. Just 2 days before in the same spot there was no sign these yellow flowers. In 2008 it was in flower from late January (see entry in March 2008 Nature Notes - via the archives)!

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.