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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
September 2008

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La Belle Vilaine plant list - CLICK HERE .

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

September Highlights.
A very busy month work-wise got in the way of detailed weekly entries. Here are the highlights.

Birds

Chiffchaffs (Pouillot véloce) continue to sing daily in the garden and the woods.
Woodlark (Alouette lulu) – singing in trees across the road from the house. (Weeks 2, 3 and 4)

Kestrel (Faucon crécerelle) – An amazing encounter witnessed by us as we set off on our daily dog walk. One male Kestrel sat on a telegraph pole minding its own business was suddenly dive-bombed by another male. They locked talons and fell tumbling towards the road. Just before they reached the ground one of them flew off. The second fell into the brambles (impossible to tell whether it was the attacker or attacked, it all happened so fast). His feet obviously caught in the brambles and he hung upside-down flapping and calling in panic. We were just formulating a plan of action (which involved heavy gardening gloves!) when he managed to break free and fly a little way to a low perch, where he sat dejectedly for several minutes as we walked on.

Swallows (Hirondelle rustique) – still around in small numbers daily on passage.
Little Owl (Chevêche d'Athéna) – one calling loudly just below our bedroom window during the night of 22 nd Redstart (Rouge-queue à front blanc) – one by roadside near home (Week 2)
Wheatear (Traquet motteux) – several sightings of single birds, obviously on passage.
Crested Tit (Mésange huppée) – continue to be seen and heard daily in the woods.
Red-legged Partridge (Perdrix rouge) – calling regularly from the fields of maize surrounding our garden – which are being harvested as I write, so fingers crossed for the birds.
Jays (Geai des chênes) – numerous, vocal and very busy collecting acorns as usual for the time of year.

Mammals

Red Squirrel (Ecureuil) – Several sightings of individuals but also one fantastic encounter between two territorial squirrels arguing over who's tree it was, complete with soundtrack!

Hare (Lièvre) – Ficelle continues to find these for us in the woods. All very strange – I'm sure they are supposed to be in the fields!

Roe Deer (Chevreuil) – The dogs put one up in the woods in Week 1 – it nearly took our noses off as it dashed across the path in front of us, with black and white streaks behind! A blow on the whistle got them back before too much harm was done and biscuits (always in my pocket for such moments) compensated the girls.

Butterflies

The best finding being the Swallowtail caterpillar munching our carrot leaves! He was around for over a week getting bigger and then disappeared, hopefully to go into cocoon mode. On the wing this month:

Swallowtail (Machaon) – one individual flew across the garden in Week 1.
Map (Carte Géographique) – Second generation, of course, two individuals in Week 1 in the woods.
CLOUDED YELLOW (Souci) – finally! Just one or two lone individuals seen on several days throughout Weeks 1 and 2. A butterfly that was numerous here until last year.
Brimstone (Citron)
Red Admiral (Vulcain) – around in good numbers enjoy the “Indian summer”
Peacock (Le Paon du jour) – again in good numbers
Green-veined White (Piéride du navet)
Large and Small White (Piéride du chou / de la rave)
Small Copper (Cuivré commun)
Small Heath (Procris)
Wall (Mégère) – good numbers still
Meadow Brown (Myrtil) – one or two shabby individuals still on the wing
Speckled Wood (Tircis)
Holly Blue (Azuré du nerprun)
Common Blue (Azuré commun)

Moths

Oak Eggar - males seen on wing during Weeks 1 and 2
Silver Y - another day-flying species
Orange Swift - a female resting on the house wall during the day (22 nd )

I put out the moth trap on 2 nights and, although the catch was small compared to those in August, there were one or two interesting species.

Garden Tiger – 4 Week 1 but one only in Week 2
Four-spotted Footman – 1 female and 7 males during Week 1 and 3 males in Week 2
Delicate – one in week 1.
Feathered Gothic – one in week 1
L-Album Wainscot – 4 individuals week 2

Four-spotted Footman Brittany

Four-spotted Footman (female)

Moth trapping in Brittany

Four-spotted Footman (male)

Dragonflies

There are still plenty of Darters busy mating and also a Southern Hawker on the wing in a friend's garden in Week 3 and in the woods still in Week 4. The Darters continually land in our pond – problem is that it is still under construction and dry! I'm afraid if they have laid any eggs they will be buried under the liner shortly! There were also several Emerald species ovipositing in a brook which feeds the Vilaine (Week 2).
Finally, a very fresh-looking GOLDEN-RINGED Dragonfly was basking in the sun on a bullrush on 26th.

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.