Finally back aboard after visits to the north-west coast of England and Chauvigny France over the Christmas and New Year period and time to settle back down to a little normality. Mind you, while flying in over the UK I'm thankful once again that I live on a boat! Wide expanses of the countryside are simply deluged, with large areas looking like small groups of Islands.
Yuan Zi on the prowl in the huge purpose built environment!
After our earlier visits toRéserve naturelle du Pinail and Le Brenne Natural Parc, the last few days were spent locally. I've been surprised to find as many wintering Blackcap and Chiffchaff during this stay, mind you the weather has been extremely mild, even for this neck of the woods. The Firecrests and Marsh Tits are always a delight around the garden but I never did manage to connect this time with the local Red Squirrel, a regular feature in the area.
Huan Huan enjoying a nice spot of bamboo!
I also managed to fulfill one of my lifetime ambitions of seeing a Giant Panda. The Zooparc de Beauval, around a 90 minute drive from Dee's parents, is home for the next 10 years to a pair named Huan Huan (girl) and Yuan Zi (boy). I'm not a great lover of zoos for obvious reasons, but in many circumstances I do feel that zoos play an important role in conservation and research. Having spent the best part of the day at Zooparc de Beauval and seeing many threatened species well cared for and in some stunning environments, I can only offer lots of positives from my visit, although I'm not a lover of birds in cages!