Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Brittany - Birding around St Malo and Dinan

Northern Brittany
Brittany, France - May, 2016

The northen coast of Brittany in France is a great place to spend some time. The dramatic rugged coastline, sandy beaches, wildlife, food and Breton culture are well worth exploring!
We were based around Cancale on the east side of the bay of Mont St Michel. Here the oysters grow in profussion in the shallow tidal bay and are harvested throughout the year. The town itself isn't too touristy although it is a place where people travel to eat in the various restaurants that line the long coastal main street. We certainly enjoyed the delicious food, fine white wines and ambience.

Pointe de Gruins near Coutance
We ere lucky with the early summer weather at the end of May and there were plenty of birds around.
Early mornings were quite productive and although I hadn't been to this particular part of Brittany beofre there was quite a lot of bird activity out at sea with distant Gannets, Shags and gulls. On two occasions I watched a Peregrine Falcon high above a group of little islands off Cancale which are a designated nature reserve. Lnding there isn't allowed without permission.

Green Lizard

Meadow Pipit amongst the Sea Thrift
Lizards, Pipits, Nightingales, Stonechats, Wrens, Linnets, Cirl Buntings and Common Kestrels were always not too far off. Inland I found Yellow and White Wagtails, Common Buzzards, Skylarks and Woodlarks, Greenfinces, Yellowhammers, Common Whitethroats, Melodious Warblers, Green and Great spotted Woodpeckers and did see a few but heard many Common Cuckoos.

Rock Lizard
Common Stonechat

Californian Poppies with other summer flowers
(Eurasian) Reed Warbler in flight
(Eurasian) Reed Warblers were quite obliging around Mont St Michel where we spent a morning. The tide was quite far out although Whimbrel, Oystercatcher and a few Northern Lapwing and a single Hobby were seen.

and peeking out...
The 'Sloop John B'
Breton Fisihng boat

Lighthouse off Coutance
There were some opportunities to take a ferry to islands off the coast north of St Malo. I did want to spend a day doing this but the service was a bit scat out of season, so to speak and on the day I wanted to go (having skillfully worked up my points to get a day away) the weather wasn't so kind out at sea. Next time perhaps and I'd certainly reccommend this part of France for such an easy holiday break.

There are lots of quiet, sheltered sandy bays

Le Mont St Michel from Cancale

Male Reed Bunting
Reed Buntings were present at the appropriate habitat and Grasshopper Warbler, Cetti's Warbler were heard as was Sedge Warbler. A pair of Red-backed Shrikes were also seen as well as a dashing Sparrowhawk.

Melodious Warbler
A male Blackcap with a rather jaunty pose
Street scene in Dinan

Beach to the fort off the city of St Malo

St Malo Hotel
 Chiffchaffs were singing in the woodland as were Wood and Willow Warblers
Yellow Wagtail
Common Swift preening in flight

Common Swift, Brittany
Cirl Buntings, male and female
Looking south to Cancale

There are lots of walking trails all along the coast
Family picnic time...
A Fench Air Force Alphajet scared away a Wren that I was trying to phograph...
...and off he went!

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