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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Central France Campervan Trip (1 Viewer)

Thanks for the info Richard.

Another unexpected find was on 14/06 near Ecretteville-les-Baons, Normandy. On an evening walk, I was alerted by begging calls coming from a small clump of trees. As dusk approached, I was amazed to see 3 Long-eared Owls flying around and giving great views - there were 2 well-grown fledglings and an adult.

The next morning, we returned to the same clump and managed to see them perched - photo taken below (phone through bins) taken at distance in order to avoid any possible disturbance.
 

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Municipal Camping in La Brenne.

Probably my favourite campsite of all is 'Les Millots' just outside the village of Rosnay in the heart of La Brenne. This is a wonderful place for a variety of reasons - the facilities are very good, well maintained and clean, the rates are excellent (much cheaper than UK) - we paid just €10.40 per night for 2 people with 1 campervan (electric hookup is extra but we have solar) and, most importantly, the wildlife is right there literally in front of you. Around the campsite there were Nightingales, Turtle Doves, Hoopoes, Golden Orioles, Nightjars, Cirl Buntings, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Black Kites, Spotted Flycatcher, Night Heron, Cattle Egrets, Purple Heron, Cuckoos, Black Redstart and Melodious Warblers. Just a few steps up the road we saw Red-backed Shrikes, Dartford Warblers, Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Woodlark, Blue-headed Wagtail, Stonechats, heard Quail and Grasshopper Warbler and had a close encounter with 15 Wild Boars. Foucault Lakes is walkable from here and has Black-winged Stilt, LRP's, more herons and Egrets, Zitting Cisticolas, Corn Buntings, Red-crested Pochards, Tree Pipit, Whiskered Terns, GW Egret, Common Terns and other good stuff. We even found a pub in Rosnay - an amazing characterful old place which the owner said dated back to the 1200's. There are also Tongued Orchids growing in the campsite itself - see pic below.

We also tried the other municipal campsite at Migne - this is much quieter (we were the only ones there) and the facilities not quite as good but, with the rates the same at €10.40, you can't really complain. A family party of Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers were seen in the campsite and a pair of Red-backed Shrikes were just a few yards away. The village had Serins and Black Redstarts and I had my best views of Golden Orioles in the vicinity with at least 5 present. Woodlarks, Nightingales, Melodious Warblers and Cirl Buntings were nearby. Some of the lakes in the area had restricted access but we managed to view a couple and saw a decent array of Egrets, Herons and wildfowl (eg. Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Pochard). Definitely worth staying here for a night.

You get a great feeling in La Brenne that literally anything could turn up around the next corner. It would be great to spend a couple of months here during peak passage times.
 

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Forgot to mention the Barn Owl we saw twice from the campsite at Rosnay 'Les Millots'.

Saw a decent array of insects too - including Purple Emperor butterfly (Etang Duris near Luant) plus Southern White Admirals, various Fritillary sp., Small Heaths, Scarce Chasers, various large moths, Crickets and other things.
 
Another unexpected find occurred on 12/06 at the Reserve Ornithologique de Grande Noë near Val de Reuil, Normandy. This is a great area for water birds, including Red-crested Pochards, other ducks, Mediterranean Gulls, Common Terns, Egrets, grebes, etc. as well as Black Kites, Nightingales and Marsh Warblers (at a nearby site). What I wasn't expecting here was a Black Woodpecker. Initially heard (very vocal, giving a variety of distinctive wild calls), it was eventually glimpsed as it flew from a dead tree. Not really the type of habitat I'd expect to find one (all the others I've seen have been in more thickly forested areas). Also, I wasn't sure of their current status in Normandy, though I have read they've been spreading towards the north west of their range.
 
Another unexpected find occurred on 12/06 at the Reserve Ornithologique de Grande Noë near Val de Reuil, Normandy. This is a great area for water birds, including Red-crested Pochards, other ducks, Mediterranean Gulls, Common Terns, Egrets, grebes, etc. as well as Black Kites, Nightingales and Marsh Warblers (at a nearby site). What I wasn't expecting here was a Black Woodpecker. Initially heard (very vocal, giving a variety of distinctive wild calls), it was eventually glimpsed as it flew from a dead tree. Not really the type of habitat I'd expect to find one (all the others I've seen have been in more thickly forested areas). Also, I wasn't sure of their current status in Normandy, though I have read they've been spreading towards the north west of their range.
They seem well established there nowadays, in all of the départements of Normandy if the check I just did for last month is anything to go by: Résultat de la recherche - www.faune-aura.org
An exciting by-product of the species‘ spread is that Tengmalm’s Owl is colonizing some new areas where the Black Woodpecker has settled in!
 
Riverside Hayfields north of Angers

On 1st and 2nd June we stayed at the (free) municipal 'Aire' at Briollay. This lies next to the river Sarthe and is flanked by ecologically-rich hayfields that are managed sympathetically for their specialist wildlife. Whinchats, Corn Buntings and Blue-headed Wagtails are found in abundance in these fields but the real stars are the Corncrakes. For UK birders it offers a glimpse of how our hayfields may once have been - with more exotic additions, such as Zitting Cisticolas. A warm evening walk accompanied by the 'Crex crex' calls and reeling Grasshopper Warblers is hard to beat. This year there were White Storks (10+) is the area as well as lots of Cattle Egrets, Black Kites, great views of Honey Buzzard, Cirl Bunting, Golden Oriole, Tree Pipits, 1 Night Heron, Stonechats, Spotted Flycatchers, Melodious Warblers, Garden Warblers, Short-toed Treecreepers, Yellowhammers and a family party of Firecrests.
 

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