Saturday, October 12, 2019

La Brenne ~ πŸ‡«πŸ‡· France Part 2/3🍁

☁️18C Friday 11th October 2019 ~After a five-hour drive south on Friday from Le Croytoy, we arrived at Dazzas parents house near Chavigny at around 5.30pm in glorious sunshine. We'll spend the remainder of our time here before heading back to Calais on Monday, then home Tuesday.

There's a saying in France 'Once you get south of the Loire (France's longest River) the weather will change for the best' This couldn't have been truer: When we left the coast at Croytoy this morning it was 18C and cloudy and within a half-hour of passing over the Loire the cloud had broken to produce clear blue skies and the temperature a balmy 26C.

Black Redstart ~ Breed in the gardens & often pose for the camera
I'm always delighted to stay at Dazza's parents, their gardens are vast with many fruit trees and wild areas, plus there's a significant wood at the bottom which they own part of and boasts mixed forest, including pine and beech. Over the years visiting I've spent many an hour roaming the grounds and have found it to be very productive. As you'll read in part 3 none more so than this visit!

☀️26C Saturday 12th October 2019 I love driving in rural France, you can pass through the many picturesque villages and never see a soul. In the afternoon Dazza and I took a slow steady drive across to La Brenne, normally around 30-minutes but it always takes us much longer with plenty of stops along the route. During one such stop, a male Hen Harrier drifted over one of the nearby fields and a Woodlark could be heard singing way off in the distance.

Such a treat to see Camberwell Beauties on the wing in October
It's fair to say that the Brenne is naturally more productive in the spring and summer but there's still plenty to find in the autumn. That said, with little rain in the region over the summer period we found that many of the Etangs (lakes) were devoid of water. Add this to the regular draining of some Etangs for regrowth and repair it can be pot luck as to whether you can find much water at all.

Short-toed Eagle ~ Only a few pairs are localised to La Brenne
We had an enjoyable afternoon visiting some of our favourite areas, Reserve Naturelle de Cherine, where we did find some water and Etang de Sous, where we 'did not' but we still managed a number of highlights. One, in particular, was some excellent views of Short-toed Eagle. With only a few pairs across the Brenne, we've been lucky enough to see single birds during our last two visits and in almost the same area.

Coypu ~ Not a native species in France and was introduced from South America in the 19th century for its fur.
With less water, Coypu, or Ragondin in French were easily found and we spotted at least a dozen during our stay, feeding happily on the lake fringes. There were plenty of Butterflies and Odonata on the wing and these including Camberwell Beauty, Small Copper, Clouded Yellow, Common Blue, Wall, Comma and Common and Small Darter.

La Brenne habitat is perfect for Stonechat
Despite an excellent afternoon stroll, I wouldn't say the birding was prolific today, likely down to the lack of water in some of our favourite areas but you can easily find all three Egrets here along with Marsh Harrier, plenty of Stonechats, Chiffchaffs and the odd Woodlark and Wheatear. There was visible migration too with many Skylarks overhead and small numbers of Barn Swallows still passing through.