TRIP REPORT FOR LA BRENNE
10TH JULY 2015 – 19TH JULY 2015
Observers Mike and Anne Passman and Graham and Daphne Daw
Left Plymouth at 08.00 on Friday 10th July arriving in Roscoff at 14.30. Planned an overnight stop at some 260 miles south, continuing our journey to La Confiance near MARTIZAY for 7 nights of fully catered accommodation – this year our evening meals were taken in the garden. The high temperatures were unexpected – above 30C every day reaching a max of 39C on Wednesday 15th July
We were some 6 weeks later than our last visit in 2013 so we didn’t know whether some species will have departed after breeding.
We achieved a total of 130 species all of which were self found compared with 129 in 2013.
Total distance travelled was 1150 miles.
A synopsis of daily visits and highlighted species recorded were:-
Friday 10th July – Plymouth – Roscoff – Sable sur Sarthe
From the Ferry we picked up GANNET, MANX SHEARWATER, SANDWICH TERN, MED GULL, SHAG, by the time we arrived at our overnight stay species list had reached 30.
Saturday 11th July – Sable sur Sarthe – La Brenne.
In the grounds of the Hotel – 2 FIRECREST. Our route took us to Angers so that we could follow the River Loire to Montsoreau (8 miles SE of Saumur). The water level of the river was low providing lots of area for birds.
First BLACK KITE overhead, up to several hundred LITTLE TERN plenty of COMMON TERN, LAPWING, HERON, CORMORANT, LITTLE EGRET and a few COMMON SANDPIPER, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, YELLOW LEGGED GULL, WHITE WAGTAIL, GARDEN WARBLER and BLACKCAP, KINGFISHER, YELLOWHAMMER and the first SERIN.
Arriving at La Confiance time to relax in the garden and watch RED SQUIRREL, BUZZARD, CUCKOO, GREEN WOODY and a nice female MONTAGUES HARRIER.
Species total 57.
Sunday 12th July.
A walk around the nearby fields (which we did for 1 hour every morning) produced a pair of MONTAGUES HARRIER, BLACK KITE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODY, SKYLARK, male CIRL BUNTING, YELLOW WAGTAIL, TURTLE DOVE, NIGHTINGALE, MISTLE THRUSH, SPARROWHAWK – by far the commonest warbler was BLACKCAP.
Passing through the village of MARTIZAY we picked up BLACK REDSTART, COOT and GREAT CRESTED GREBE.
First Etang Hide we visited was SOUS which within 5 minutes provided us with the rarest bird of the trip with views down to 20 feet a LITTLE CRAKE (a very rare bird in La Brenne),
Good but brief sightings of LITTLE BITTERN, LITTLE and GREAT CRESTED GREBE, 20 CATTLE EGRET, PURPLE HERON, GADWALL and MALLARD.
A HONEY BUZZARD flew over. Still over 100 WHISKERED TERN many pairs with young on the water lilies. A GREAT REED WARBLER just outside the hide.
Next stop was our regular picnic lunch spot of LA GABRIERE this lake continued 200 MUTE SWAN, 300+ COOT, 50+ GREAT CRESTED GREBE, 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBE only BLACK TAILED GODWIT of the trip LAPWING and LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. A few WHISKERED TERN and BLACK TERN, 2 GREAT WHITE EGRET, TUFTED DUCK and RED CRESTED POCHARD (with young), a NIGHT HERON. In the nearby gardens a family group of SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and a male CIRL BUNTING.
Next stop was ETANG ESSAY – very hot, where we added our first MARSH HARRIER and a pair of RED BACKED SHRIKE.
Returning through ST MICHEL EN BRENNE towards MARTIZAY there is a small marsh where we had 65 CATTLE EGRET and 25 LAPWING. A HOOPOE on the telephone wires and the call of our first CHIFFCHAFF.
Final stop of the day was a fresh water marsh about 1 mile on D50 beyond the hamlet of LES BERGERAUX. Just off to the left, park in field. This was the second best site we found for Waders – 1 WOOD SANDPIPER, 125+ LAPWING, 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 1 GREAT WHITE EGRET, 1 Juv NIGHT HERON, 6 LIITTLE EGRET, LINNET,STONECHAT in the fields, 10+ YELLOW WAGTAIL (all Juv) and a SEDGE WARBLER. Overhead a female MARSH HARRIER and a male HEN HARRIER.
By the roadside at MARTIZAY our only OSPREY.
Totting up the species list over a couple of cold beers we had achieved 94.
Monday 13th July – La Brenne
Our hours walk around the fields at La Confidence produced 3 STONE CURLEW, 2 HOBBY, 3 CORN BUNTING, a QUAIL, calling KESTREL, 2 TURLTLE DOVE, WHITE and YELLOW WAGTAIL BLACK REDSTART, WREN, at least 3 GREEN and 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODY.
Visit to the Maison du Parc – the CISTUDE HIDE open 10.30-12.30 because of the breeding EGRETS and HERONS, GREAT WHITE EGRET, 2ad NIGHT HERON (+ YOUNG) 1 ad PURLE HERON, ( at least 6 young) 4 CATTLE EGRET and 4 SAND MARTIN (our 100th species of the trip).
Lunch at LA GARBRIERE produced a surprise in the form of a CHILIAN FLAMINGO, also POCHARD with young.
Afternoon very hot – visit to ETANG FOUCOULT where we found our only BLACK WINGED STILT (2ad and 2 Juv) 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, WOOD SANDPIPER, COMMON SANDPIPER, 1 SNIPE, 10+ TUFTED DUCK, 20+ POCHARD, GADWALL, 10+ RED CRESTED POCHARD (many Juv), 2 BLACK NECKED GREBE, 4 COMMON TERN, REED WARBLER, 2 BLACK KITE over.
Finished the day with a visit to the Marsh at LES BERGERAUX .
Only GREEN SANDPIPER of the trip, 100+ LAPWING, 1 WOOD SANDPIPER, 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 2 WHISKERRED TERN.
Trip list increased to 106.
Tuesday 14th July – Le Brenne – Ciron
Early morning walk around the fields produced our first MELODIOUS WARBLER, NIGHTINGALE, GOLDCREST, BLACK REDSTART, 2 MISTLE THRUSH, SERIN, 3 STONE CURLEW and a pair of MONTAGUES HARRIER with 1 Juv.
Quick visit to LES BERGERAUX, GREEN SANDPIPER still, male REDBACKED SHRIKE and 15 LAPWING.
On the road to TOURNON ST. MARTIN a flock of 50 CATTLE EGRET. In the fields a PHEASANT
At Le Blanc 3 GREY LAG GOOSE, lunch stop today at CIRON by the river where we found 2 NUTHATCH, 2 GREY WAGTAIL and a KINGFISHER..
On the road to BLIZON another flock of 45+ CATTLE EGRET. At Blizon-en-Masse the HERONRY contained 1 NIGHT HERON, PURPLE HERON, GREAT WHITE EGRET, LITTLE EGRET and CATTLE EGRET.
Wednesday 15th July - The hottest day we have ever experienced on holiday with the car (in the shade) showing 39C.
An early morning walk found two family parties of HEN HARRIER, 4 STONE CURLEW, CIRL AND CORN BUNTING.
At LE BLANC by the river 2 COMMON SANDPIPER, 2 KINGFISHER, GREY WAGTAIL, 50+ SWIFT.
A short visit to ETANG RICOT nothing much on the water but in the woods leading to the hide, a WILLOW WARBLER, SHORT-TOED CREEPER, 2 LONG TAILED TIT, ROBIN, NUTHATCH, 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER.
An afternoon visit to ETANG SOUS good close views of WATER RAIL, A pair of LITTLE BITTERN plus 1 Juv, 50+ WHISKERED TERN.
The marsh near St MICHEL-EN-BRENNE produced a flock of 50+ CATTLE EGRET and a COMMON SANDPIPER.
Finally at LES BERGERAUX, 5 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 4 LAPWING, GREAT WHITE EGRET and 2 YELLOW WAGTAIL.
Species list now 116.
Thursday 16th July
Early morning walk produced 2 male HEN HARRIER, 2 BLACK KITE, BUZZARD 3 KESTREL. Only 2 STONE CURLEW.
Chris at La Confiance had told us of a quarry where earlier in the year BEE-EATER had been seen near the hamlet of DURTALLE. On arrival very quickly picked up 5 BEE EATER, also TURTLE DOVE and BLACK REDSTART.
At ETANG DU GABRIAU over 100 WHISKERED TERN, 4 GREAT WHITE EGRET, 2 PURPLE HERON, 3 BLACK NECKED GREBE, REED WARBLER, BLACK TERN, HONEY BUZZARD over.
Returned to the river at CIRON for lunch, this time a vocal BLACK WOODPECKER, 10 SAND MARTIN, GARDEN WARBLER, another 2 BEE EATER (there is a nearby quarry
Another hot afternoon visit to ETANG FOULCOUT, 4 Ad and 3 Juv BLACK WINGED STILT, 2 COMMON SANDPIPER, 1 SNIPE, 5 COMMON TERN, 1 MELODIOUS WARBLER in a bush as well as a male GOLDEN ORIOLE.
Returned to La Confiance, 2 SPARROWHAWK flew over.
Trip species list now 119.
Friday 17th July – La Brenne
Last full day, so our early morning walk was to be the last of the trip. A male MONTAGUES HARRIER, 4 BUZZARD, 3 KESTREL, HOBBY, 4 BLACK REDSTART, 1 HOOPOE, 1 TURTLE DOVE, NIGHTINGALE.
A return visit to DUTALLE Quarry where this time we found a total of 18 BEE EATER, a MEADOW PIPIT, male YELLOWHAMMER, 2 MISTLE THRUSH.
On the road to YZEURES SUR-CREUSE a LITTLE OWL..
Stop at MERIGNY by the river 2 HONEY BUZZARD, 4 GREY WAGTAIL, NUTHATCH, KINGSFISHER and a LESSER SPOTTED WOODY.
Near CONCREMIERS another 2 BEE EATER whilst lunch by the river, found KINGFISHER, GREY WAGTAIL, SERIN.
Final visit to LES BERGERAUX 70+ LAPWING, 10 YELLOW WAGTAIL, 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a very obliging HOOPOE.
Trip species list new 127.
Saturday 18th July – La Confiance – LOUDEAC
A journey of some 260 miles completed in our first rain and nothing particular to report – except long traffic queues at the peage motorway toll booths.
Sunday 19th July –LOUDEAC to ROSCOFF – PLYMOUTH
As our ferry was not departing until 16.30 took the opportunity to follow the estuary from MORLAIX to ROSCOFF which added to the trip list – REDSHANK, CURLEW, OYSTERCATCHER and SHELDUCK. Some nice adult MED GULLS amongst the BLACK HEADED GULLS.
At Roscoff around the harbour a ROCK PIPIT.
A flat and calm crossing back to PLYMOUTH . Most of the species recorded were seen in the last 5 miles – a flock of 50+ MANX SHEARWATER, a lone SOOTY SHEARWATER flew east, FULMAR and 3 RAZORBILL.
Final species total was 130
The main area we visited La Brenne is one of the most under visited areas of France by British Birdwatchers, the range of species we recorded gives a visitor some indication of what can be seen. Maps of the local area are available at the Maison du Parc.
La Confiance run by an English couple Chris and Sue is unique – food is outstanding even a well packed picnic box is provided – there are not that many places to easily pick up lunch.
Terms offered by Chris and Sue are very, very competitive and include aperitif and wine with 5 course Dinners.
Roads are very quiet and no parking charges.
Do look at the La Confiance web site.
Mike Passman July 2015