TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
Saturday 7 - Friday 13 May 2005
Mike & Liz Read
Saturday 7 May
For many of us, this was our first experience of Stansted Airport and Ryanair and both performed admirably. On arrival at Poitiers it took us the usual hour to sort out minibuses and then we began our drive towards La Ferte St Cyr a little before 7.00pm French time. We arrived just after 9.00pm and our hosts provided us with a light but excellent dinner full of local produce. During the drive from Poitiers we noted a couple of Kestrels and at least 4 Common Buzzards.
Sunday 8 May
We began the day with a pre-breakfast walk to the riverside park a short distance from our hotel. The buildings in town held at least a couple of male Black Redstarts and the occasional Serin and at the river there were a couple of Grey Wagtails. A singing Nightingale encouraged us to cross the river in the hopes of seeing it and eventually we all gained excellent views. A Short-toed Treecreeper proved a little elusive but was seen in the trees. Back near the hotel a Red Squirrel was spotted running across the road by a couple of the group.
After breakfast we set off for the Foret dOrleans and just beyond Ligny we had our first good sighting as a Black Woodpecker flew into a small woodland where it was obviously nesting. Along the roadside we saw Common Comfrey, Greater Stitchwort and Garlic Mustard among others. Also during this stop we saw Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove.
At Sully-sur-Loire we crossed the river and took a slight detour before heading for the Foret. At a group of gravel pits we were surprised to see a number of pairs of Mediterranean Gulls nesting amongst the Black-headeds. Many pairs of Sand Martins were breeding in a sandy cliff, Melodious Warbler, Nightingale and Lesser Whitethroat sang from the surrounding scrub and a Hen Harrier drifted past in typical fashion. The grassy areas held good numbers of butterflies including Scarce Swallowtail and a mating pair of Glanville Fritillaries but it was the gravel pit that held some of the best birds with Lapwings, Little Ringed Plovers and Common Sandpipers, Tufted Duck and a lone Shelduck amongst the birds noted.
We drove from here into the Foret dOrleans to overlook the Etang du Ravoir. Here one of the few pairs of Ospreys breeding on mainland France had a nest and we even witnessed a changeover at the nest. Occasional Stock Doves were seen in the surrounding trees, as were Great-Spotted Woodpecker and Blue Tit. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at this location with a chorus of Marsh Frogs to keep us entertained! During lunch a Short-toed Eagle flew past and 3 Booted Eagles were seen circling around. Of these latter birds one bird was a pale morph.
As we left the area we had to take a detour past the end of the etang and from here we saw 2 Ospreys circling around. They could have been the birds from the nest. We drove through the Foret in the hope of finding other species but few birds came to our attention (because of the lunchtime wine?) until we reached another etang on the outskirts of the Foret. Here there were at least 3 Great-Crested and 1 Little Grebe and a lone male Pochard. Our drive on through the Foret produced little else but close to Ouzouer-sur-Loire we found a lovely area of Green-veined Orchids and Meadow Saxifrage. Whilst admiring these plants a rather tatty looking Honey Buzzard flew past. A couple of pauses as we made our way back along the banks of the Loire produced views of a few Little Terns, Common Stonechat and Yellowhammer and a much more respectable looking Honey Buzzard.
We stopped at Sully to photograph the Chateau and down on the riverbanks were 4 Common Sandpipers and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers despite the numerous walkers there. Hawking over the river itself were a few Common Terns. During the return journey to the hotel we paused at our Black Woodpecker spot in the hope of seeing the birds again but no doubt the warm weather had reduced their activity and they remained unseen. However a male Cirl Bunting nearby obliged with full song. We reached the hotel in good time to relax prior to doing our list and enjoying a superb evening meal.
Monday 9 May
Before breakfast we walked a short distance eastwards along the D103 before cutting off onto a side track down towards the Cosson River. The walk was very pleasant except for all the car transporter lorries dashing by! On a small pond Grey Heron and Common Moorhen were seen and amongst the scattered housing there was a Black Redstart, a Serin and a Mistle Thrush. The trees down by the river held a singing Short-toed Treecreeper but this remained unseen. On the way back down the track a Red Squirrel was seen in the trees overhead.
After a typical Continental breakfast we took a fairly swift drive to Chaumon-sur-Loire where we borded a typical Loire flat-bottomed boat for a restful and entertaining trip on the river. Common Sandpipers, Little and Common Terns were frequently sighted and there were occasional Little Ringed Plovers on open sandy areas. A few Reed Buntings sang their monotonous songs from the riverside and overhead at least 2 Honey Buzzards were seen. A stroll on one of the islands enabled us to see a couole of Long-tailed Tits and a Garden Warbler plus plenty of signs of European Beaver, including a few recently felled trees and shrubs. Some of the plants noted here included Tansy, Bluebell and Scentless Mayweed. Back aboard the boat we ventured up into a small backwater and, encouraged by Mike, a Golden Oriole began singing. Try as we may we never did get a view of this elusive bird.
Back on dry land we drove to the Foret de Russy near Chailles for lunch and during this time we hear Black Woodpecker drumming in the distance and see a couple of Great-spotted Woodpeckers. Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth and Club-tailed Dragonfly are good finds here (both rare in Britain), as were Narrow-leaved Lungwort, Butchers Broom and Bastard Balm.
We drove to the Chateau Villesavin stopping for some beautiful Lady and Butterfly Orchids as we went. At the Chateau we were given a guided tour of this family run establishment but unfortunately our guide spoke her French rather quickly. Following the guided part of the tour, we were able to stroll around the Museum de Marriage (showing some of the history of French wedding ceremonies and customs) and some of the Chateau grounds. The rather tall breed of donkey was quickly nicknamed Donkey Haut and birds seen in the area included Common Buzzard, Black Redstart and a male Common Redstart as well as a Goldcrest in the bushes by the car park.
Following refreshments at a restaurant close to the Chateau Villesavin we took a leisurely drive back to the hotel in good time for dinner.
Tuesday 10 May
We again walked eastwards before breakfast and then took a little side road up to some forest. It was along this road that we had good views of Cirl Bunting, Firecrest, Marsh Tit and Spotted Flycatcher.
After breakfast we set off for the Foret de Chambord and spent some time looking from tower hides out on to clearings. At the first hide we were greeted by a Wren that seemed annoyed at our presence and the reason was that it was nesting in the hide. Along the fence some people saw a Red Fox on the prowl. At the next hide a Golden Oriole was singing in the distance and Mike managed to call it up for brief views. At a point where we had good views to the Chateau de Chambord two Honey Buzzards flew over fairly close and we could see that one was carrying nesting material. At this location we heard a Green Woodpecker calling. In the car park areas of these hides were many different trees, including Red Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Beech, Hornbeam and Accacia. At yet another hide we were amazed to see a huge group of about 80 Mouflon which had been introduced to the area some years previously.
We paused for some necessary supplies in St-Laurent-Nouan and in a childrens play park there were a couple of Crested Larks. We had lunch overlooking the Loire at Beaugency where gulls (Black-headed and Mediterranean) and terns (Common and Little) were quite abundant; there were nesting colonies of each nearby. Also on the island were Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover and a Great Cormorant flew along the river itself. Entertaining us during our lunch was a Common Whitethroat singing from the nearby scrub and a Sparrowhawk flew past. After lunch we wandered across the road and were able to see a couple of Green Woodpeckers. Plants found in the area included White Campion, Field Marigold and Judas Tree.
To complete our day out we drove south to a new etang near Courmemin. Being a freshly made lake only a couple of years old, the bird life was very different to many of the more established etangs. There were at least 8 Redshanks and 6 Greenshanks feeding in the shallows while over the back edge of the lake at least 10 Black-winged Stilts could be seen. Northern Lapwings were also present. Out on the water lilies Whiskered Terns and Black-necked Grebes were beginning to nest, with Great-crested Grebes also present. Wildfowl here included a Mute Swan, 3 Gadwall and 6 Northern Shovelers. On the verges at the edge of the road here we found Ramsons, Crosswort, Meadow Clary to name but a few and out in the etang lots of Yellow Water Lilies.
We returned to the hotel very content with our days efforts.
Wednesday 11 May
In the hope of finding wild boar we drove to the Foret de Chambord for our pre-breakfast walk. It wasnt until we reached a hide along the Route Francois 1st that we saw any mammals at all. 2 Red Deer at one hide were followed by 3 Red Deer, 20 Mouflon and 1 Wild Boar at the next.
Just before setting out after breakfast we had magnificent views of a displaying Honey Buzzard. It displayed for some time in what turns out to be a typical wings-raised quivering flight; fabulous! We drove to Romorantin to pick up our local guide Maurice Sempe and we made a brief visit to an etang just south of the Cher river. At this location we saw quite a few Common Terns whilst the waders included Redshank, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plovers and migrating Common Sandpipers. Two Honey Buzzards were seen, though they were somewhat distant.
Close to Les Huets we had good views of a male Hen Harrier and more distant views of a Short-toed Eagle before heading down a narrow road where a Hoopoe was calling; we eventually managed to get fair views of this bird. At the same location we saw some Brown Hares and a Tree Pipit. Our main reason for visiting this area was to try and see some of the declining population of Little Bustards and we were not to be disappointed. Surprisingly at first we found a female wandering through some fairly tall grasses and then slightly more distant a male strolled into view and was seen displaying. After a good while of watching this we moved up a little and two more females flew across in front of us. On some of the taller stems of vegetation a male Whinchat was perhaps on territory and in a damp area of short grassland a group of Yellow Wagtails were found. There were perhaps 15 individual wagtails and certainly some were of the blue-headed race. We completed our searching in this area with views of another male Little Bustard and closer views of a Short-toed Eagle
From here we drove via Selles-sur-Cher up to the Etang de lArche for lunch.
Masses of Green-veined Orchids lined the track sides as we arrived and around the shallow edges of the etang there were many Grey Herons and at least 5 Little Egrets. The stiffish cooling breeze encouraged us to find a little shelter down the bank for our lunch after which we resumed our birding and this particular etang proved fruitful with a Black Tern being seen amongst the numerous Common Terns. Great crested and Little Grebes were out on the water as were Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall. There was also a large breeding colony of Black-headed Gulls. There were Reed Warblers in a small reedbed and Turtle Doves in some of the surrounding trees but perhaps the best find here was a Black Kite, which circled around for some time. As we left the area we found a lone Woodlark in a vineyard and then a little further on a Short-toed Eagle was flying past. Best of all though, were the 2 Stone Curlews that we spotted on a bare field; we were able to watch these for some time before they just sat down and disappeared!
During our journey towards the Chateau de Cheverny, numerous Monkey Orchids were growing on the roadside and we found a couple of male Red-backed Shrikes.
Our self-guided tour of the Chateau de Cheverny was most impressive. The three central parts of the chateau provided the inspiration for the Chateau Moulinsart, which featured in the stories of Hergés Adventures of Tintin. With a little time to spare some people took the opportunity for a stroll in the grounds where a nice group of Lady Orchids and Common Twayblades were found. This completed another fine day out and we returned to the hotel.
Thursday 12 May
The early morning gang took a brief drive to the southern end of La Ferte and walked to the Grand Etang. There were a couple of Mallard and a Grey Heron out on the lake but it was mostly woodland type birds that provided the interest. This included Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs and Nuthatch close to the lake; while in the more open scrubby areas there were Whitethroat, Melodious and Garden Warblers to be found. A couple of Green Woodpeckers and 3 Yellowhammers added a bit of colour while Nightingale and Golden Orioles added to the sounds. Just before we got back to the hotel a Honey Buzzard flew quite low over the village.
As we drove towards Neunge-sur-Beuvron, a couple of Canada Geese flew across the road and as we shopped in the village a male Redstart was singing from one of the roofs much in the manner of its black cousin. During a brief stop at the Etang des Marguilliers the only bird of interest was a Grey Heron. But the Etang de Giraude was a little more productive with a few Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Gadwall and Northern Shovelers being present along with Great-crested Grebes, Whiskered Terns and a couple of Reed Warblers. Along a dirt road another etang held more Reed Warblers and Whiskered Terns as well as Mute Swan and Shoveler, while overhead a Common Buzzard and a Black Kite were making lazy circles in the sky.
At the Etang la Gravelle the hoped for purple herons had perhaps not arrived this far north. However there were Grey Heron and Little Egret and a Black-crowned Night Heron flew in and a Short-toed Treecreeper was seen in the trees. At the Etang de Marcilly there were numerous Black-necked Grebes to be seen a Kingfisher darted past and a pair of Bullfinches were in the scrubby woodland. The Etang de Favelle produced more Black-necked Grebes and another Kingfisher as well as Mute Swans and Pochard and a breeding colony of Black-headed Gulls. Close to St-Viatre we visited the Etang dOmblin where we saw Tufted Duck, Common Pochard and a Purple Heron as well as a Honey Buzzard flying past. Along the roadside verges we found Rampion Bellflower, Wood Sage, Lesser Stitchwort and Timothy among many others.
We had lunch beside St Viatres Etang de la Ville to the accompaniment of singing Reed Warblers and just in case anybody had taken an excess, our next stop was a walk beside the Etang des Brosses. As we walked along the track in a field we had excellent views of a Roe Doe and fawn. Also along the track side in the ditches we found Lesser Spearwort, Bistort and Water Forget-me-not, as well as some Marsh Frogs. Again this etang held Black-necked Grebes and Whiskered Terns and once more we saw a Kingfisher. During our return walk we had good views of a Hobby catching insects.
Our final main stop of the tour was at the Etang du Beaumont and to celebrate the Travelling Naturalists first tour to this region we indulged in some lovely gateaux and some sparkling wine. This was all accompanied by further bird watching from the lovely hide here and birds seen included Great-crested and Black-necked Grebe, a few Sand Martins, Pochards, Tufted Ducks and a few Mallards including a female with ducklings. Close by, one or two Loose-flowered Orchids and a few Meadow Thistles were growing.
During our journey back to the hotel Maurice suggested overlooking one more etang where we were able to see a fine male Marsh Harrier in the distance, our only bird of this species during the entire tour.
Friday 13 May
We did no early walk to allow time for packing and at 9.00am we left the hotel to head towards Tours for our flight home. However, we did make a brief visit to one of the Chambord hides. Unfortunately there were no mammals present but a Crested Tit was seen feeding in a nearby birch tree. The journey to Tours was interspersed with sightings of Skylarks, Corn Buntings and Kestrels amongst other things and as we took coffee in the airport departure lounge there were two or three of this latter species hovering over the airport grasslands.
Our homeward flight departed five minutes early and landed at Stansted nearly 30 minutes early (and I thought it was uphill back to England!!) Having all collected our luggage successfully we bade our farewells and set off for our respective homes at the end of a fabulous tour.
Little Grebe: Single birds noted on 8th, 11th & 12th
Great Crested Grebe: Noted every day except 7th with sightings on the Loire and on various etangs
Black-necked (Eared) Grebe: At least 8 seen on 10th at a newish etang near Courmemin where the species was obviously breeding and also seen on 12th at the Etang Marcilly
Great Cormorant: Seen on each full day in the region with the most being 4 on 11th but these were seen at 3 different locations that day
Grey Heron: Seen every day in good numbers
Purple Heron: Two seen on 12th at the Etang Omblim
Little Egret: One on 10th at the Etang de Beaugency, at least 5 on 11th at the Etang de lArche and also seen on 12th mainly at the Etang la Gravelle
Black-crowned Night-heron: Two at the Etang la Gravelle on 12th
Mute Swan: One on 8th at some gravel pits near the Foret dOrleans then seen on 10th, 11th & 12th at various locations
Canada Goose: Just a couple seen flying over the road not far from le Ferte St Cyr on 12th
Common Shelduck: Just a single bird seen on 8th on gravel pits near the Foret dOrleans
Gadwall: Three on 10th near Courmemin, 2 at the Etang de lArche on 11th and also seen on 12th at the Etang de Beaumont
Mallard: Noted every day
Northern Shoveler: The first were 6 near Courmemin on 10th and then seen the following 2 days
Common Pochard: One at the gravel pits near the Foret dOrleans on 8th then seen in good numbers on 11th at the Etang de lArche (at least 30 birds) and also seen on 12th
Tufted Duck: A male & 2 females seen on 8th at some gravel pits near the Foret dOrleans and also seen on 12th on various etangs near St Viatre
Osprey: A nesting pair were seen in the Foret dOrleans on 8th; this region is the only French mainland breeding location
(European) Honey Buzzard: Seen daily from 8th 12th with the best sightings being of a displayind bird on 11th at la Ferte-St-Cyr and of a pair one of which was carrying nesting material on 10th at Chambord
Black Kite: Two sightings of single birds; 1 at the Etang de lArche on 11th & 1 the following day at the Etang de Goujounniere
Short-toed Eagle: Two on 8th in the Foret dOrleans and at least 3 on 11th, 2 south of the Cher River and 1 close to the Etang de lArche
Hen Harrier: A female on 8th near the Foret dOrleans and single males on 10th and 11th at Beaugency and south of the Cher River respectively
(Eurasian) Marsh Harrier: Just a single male seen near Neung sur Beuvron on 12th
(Eurasian) Sparrowhawk: One on 7th during the drive to la Ferte-St-Cyr and 1 on 10th during lunch at Beaugency
Common Buzzard: Seen every day
Booted Eagle: Three seen in the Foret dOrleans on 8th including 1 pale morph
(Eurasian) Kestrel: Seen every day
(Eurasian) Hobby: Just a single sighting on 12th close to the Etang de Brosses
Red-legged Partridge: One on 8th on the way to Sully-sur-Loire then at least 8 south of the Cher River on 11th and 2 on 12th near St Viatre
Grey Partridge: Just 2 seen on 11th south of the Cher River
(Common) Pheasant: Noted on 3 consecutive days from 10th
Common Moorhen: Single birds seen on 8th, 9th & 11th and at least 2 seen on 12th
Eurasian Coot: Noted on 4 days on various etangs
Little Bustard: Five (2 males and 3 females) seen south of the Cher River on 11th
Black-winged Stilt: At least 10 seen on an etang close to Courmemin
Stone-curlew: The only sighting was of a pair close to the Etang de lArche on 11th
(Northern) Lapwing: Noted every day from 8th in small numbers
Little Ringed Plover: Seen every full day in the region including on sallow-edged etangs and on islands in the Loire River
Common Redshank: Noted on 10th & 11th near Courmemin and just south of the Cher River respectively
Common Greenshank: Six on 10th and at least 4 on 11th at the same locations as the previous species
Common Sandpiper: Many migrants must have been passing through as the species was seen every full day of the tour
Yellow-legged Gull: Noted on 4 days at various locations usually near the Loire where the species was breeding
Mediterranean Gull: At least 40 seen close to the Foret dOrleans on 8th and then good numbers seen on 10th at Beaugency
Black-headed Gull: Noted every day except 7th
Whiskered Tern: About 20 seen on 10th near Courmemin and larger numbers seen on 12th at various etangs near St Viatre
Black Tern: Just a single bird seen on 11th at the Etang de lArche
Common Tern: Seen every day except 13th
Little Tern: Seen on 8th, 9th & 10th at various locations along the Loire
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon): Noted every day
Stock Dove: Noted on 3 days but only actually seen on 11th
Wood Pigeon: Noted every day
European Turtle Dove: Seen on 5 consecutive days from 8th
(Eurasian) Collared Dove: Seen every day
Common Cuckoo: Noted on 5 successive days from the 8th.
Tawny Owl: Two heard early in the morning of 9th and also heard on 10th from the Hotel St Cyr by those that slept less soundly than the leaders!
Common (European) Swift: Seen every day.
Common Kingfisher: 3 seen at various etangs close to St Viatre on 12th.
(Eurasian) Hoopoe: 2 seen on 11th south of the Cher River, and there was also one found on 9th although in the end this turned out to be a slightly wooden bird!
Great Spotted Wodpecker: Noted on four consecutive days from 8th in various locations.
Black Woodpecker: Seen on 8th not far from Ligny-le-Ribault. Heard drumming the following day, and one was seen on 12th
Green Woodpecker: Heard on 9th and seen on the next 3 days.
Crested Lark: Two at St-Laurent-Nouan on 10th.
Wood Lark: One on 11th near the Etang de lArche.
(Eurasian) Sky Lark: Noted every day from 8th in good numbers.
(European) Sand Martin: A good colony close to Foret dOrlean was well observed on 8th, and we also noted this species on 10th, 11th and 12th.
Barn Swallow: Noted every day.
(Common) House Martin: Noted every day except 7th.
Yellow Wagtail: A group of about 15 south of the Cher River on 11th were no doubt passing migrants.
Grey Wagtail: Two on 8th in La Ferte St Cyr, and also noted on 9th and 11th.
White Wagtail: Seen every day from 8th.
Tree Pipit: Just a single sighting south of the Cher River on 11th.
Red-backed Shrike: Two males seen not far from the Etang de lArche on 11th.
(Winter) Wren: Seen or heard on 5 full days in the region including a pair nesting in one of the hides in the Foret de Chambord.
Hedge Accentor (Dunnock): Two seen on 9th and also seen on 10th.
(Common) Blackbird: Seen every day from 8th.
Song Thrush: Seen or heard on 5 consecutive days from 8th.
Mistle Thrush: Seen on 5 consecutive days from 8th.
(European) Robin: Seen on 5 consecutive days from 8th.
Common Nightingale: Noted on 5 consecutive days from 8th; more often heard than seen.
Black Redstart: Seen every day from 8th, especially around the village close to the hotel.
Common Redstart: Two on 9th (one pre-breakfast and one at the Chateau Villesavin). One on 10th in La Ferte St Cyr, and finally 1 on 12th in Neung-sur-Beauvron.
Whinchat: Just a single bird seen south of the Cher River on 11th.
Common Stonechat: Noted on 4 days often close to roadsides.
Northern Wheatear: One on 10th and at least 15th on 11th no doubt refer to migrants passing through.
(Eurasian) Reed-warbler: Heard on 11th at the Etang d lArche and then seen on 12th close to St Viatre.
Melodious Warbler: Noted on 4 days with some of the best sightings being on the edge of La Ferte St Cyr on 12th.
Willow Warbler: Noted on 3 days.
Common Chiffchaff: Noted on 5 consecutivedays from 8th.
Blackcap: Noted on 5 consecutive days from 8th.
Garden Warbler: The first was on 8th near the Foret dOrlean and this species was also noted on a further 3 days.
Common Whitethroat: Small numbers noted on 5 consecutive days from 8th.
Lesser Whitethroat: One heard singing close to the Foret dOrlean on 8th.
Firecrest: Just a single bird seen during the pre-breakfast walk on 10th.
Goldcrest: Just noted at the Chateau Villesavin on 9th.
Spotted Flycatcher: A single sighting during the pre-breakfast walk on 10th.
Long-tailed Tit: Two seen during the boat trip on 9th and also seen on 10th and 12th.
Marsh Tit: Two on 10th during the pre-breakfast walk.
Crested Tit: A single bird seen from one of the Chambord hides on our final morning.
Great Tit: Noted every day from 8th.
Blue Tit: Noted on 5 days from 8th.
(Eurasian) Nuthatch: One during the pre-breakfast walk on 8th and then 3 on 11th in trees by the carpark at the Chateau Cheverny and also seen before breakfast on 12th.
Short-toed Treecreeper: First seen before breakfast on 8th and then noted on the following 4 days.
Eurasian Jay: Noted on 5 consecutive days in various locations.
(Black-billed) Magpie: Seen every day.
(Eurasian) Jackdaw: Noted every day.
Rook: Seen on 9th, 10th and 13th.
Carrion Crow: Noted every day.
(European) Golden Oriole: Heard during the boat trip on 9th. Seen in the Foret de Chambord on 10th and heard during the pre-breakfast walk on 12th.
Common (European) Starling: Seen every day.
Yellowhammer: One seen on 8th along the banks of the Loire, heard on 11th and then 3 seen before breakfast on 12th.
Cirl Bunting: Small numbers seen on 5 consecutive days from 8th usually singing males who attracted our attention.
Reed Bunting: One close to the Foret dOrlean on 8th and then seen during our boat trip on Loire on 9th.
Corn Bunting: At least 2 seen on 8th close to Ligny-le-Rabault, then good numbers seen on 11th south of the Cher River and also noted on 13th during the journey to the airport.
(European) Chaffinch: Noted every day from 8th.
European Serin: Small quantities seen every day from 8th, including pre-breakfast walks in La Ferte St Cyr.
(European) Greenfinch: Noted every day from 8th.
(European) Goldfinch: Noted every day from 8th.
(Eurasian) Linnet: Three seen on 8th close to the Foret dOrlean, then a male singing on 10th and two birds were noted on 11th.
(Eurasian) Bullfinch: Just 2 seen close to the Etang de Marcilly on 12th.
House Sparrow: Seen every day from 8th.
Red Fox: Just a single sighting in the Foret de Chambord on 10th.
Western Hedgehog: As per usual with this species, we only saw the sub species horizontalis e.g. dead on the road.
Wild Boar: Plenty of signs noted on 10th and a single individual seen in the Foret du Chambord on 11th.
Red Deer: About 40 seen in the Foret du Chambord on 10th by a client who was taking the day off, and then 5 seen by everyone in the same location the following day.
Roe Deer: Small numbers seen on 3 days but with the most endearing sighting being a female with a young fawn on 12th at the Etang de Brosses.
Mouflon: 76 on 10th and at least 20 on 11th seen in the Foret de Chambord.
Red Squirrel: Noted on 9th, 10th and 12th and some of these were actually in the town La Ferte St Cyr.
European Beaver: Tracks, droppings and various other signs noted during our boat trip on the Loire on 9th.
Coypu: Four on 10th at an etang near Courmemin and one at the Etang de Beaumont.
Brown Hare: At least 5 seen on 11th south of the Cher River.
European Rabbit: One before breakfast on 9th and another seen on 12th close to St Viatre.
Common Wall Lizard
Duke of Burgundy fritillary
Common Blue Damselfly
Tiger moth spp.
The reference book used for this list was The Wild Flower Key British Isles and
North West Europe by Francis Rose
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup
Ranunculus acris Meadow Buttercup
Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine
Ranunculus flammula Lesser Spearwort
Caltha palustris Marsh-marigold
Ranunculus aquatilis Water-crowfoot
Nupha lutea Yellow Water-lily
Hippuris vulgaris Mares-tail
Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy
Rorippa sylvestris Creeping Yellow-cress
Barbarea vulgaris Winter-cress
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard
Polygala vulgaris Common Milkwort
Viola riviniana Common Dog-violet
Silene alba White Campion
Silene dioica Red Campion
Lychnis flos-cuculi Ragged-Robin
Stellaria graminea Lesser Stitchwort
Stellaria holostea Greater Stitchwort
Malva sylvestris Common Mallow
Geranium robertianum Herb-Robert
Geranium columbinum Long-stalked Cranes-bill
Geranium pyrenaicum Hedgerow Cranes-bill
Ulex europaeus Common Gorse
Sarothamnus scoparius Broom
Robinia pseudoacacia False Acacia
Trifolium pratense Red Clover
Trifolium repens White Clover
Vicia sativa Common Vetch
Medicago arabica Spotted Medick
Lotus corniculatus Common Birds-foot trefoil
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Sorbus torminalis Wild Service-tree
Rosa arvensis Field Rose
Rosa canina Dog Rose
Rubus fruiticosus Bramble
Potentilla erecta Hoary Cinquefoil
Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil
Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
Saxifraga granulata Meadow Saxifrage
Urtica dioica Common Nettle
Humulus lupulus Hop
Viscum album Mistletoe
Hedera helix Ivy
Thelycrania sanguinea Dogwood
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak
Quercus patraea Sessile Oak
Castanea sativa Sweet Chestnut
Betula pendula Silver Birch
Fagus sylvatica Beech
Carpinus betulus Hornbeam
Alnus glutinosa Alder
Acer campestre Field Maple
Tilia x europaea Common Lime
Tilia platyphyllos Large-leaved Lime
Fraxinus excelsior Ash
Salix viminalis Osier
Populus canescens Grey Poplar
Euphorbia helioscopia Sun Spurge
Euphorbia cyparissias Cypress Spurge
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley
Rumex obtusifoloius Broad-leaved Dock
Rumex acetosa Common Sorrel
Rumex acetosella Sheeps Sorrel
Polygonum bistorta Common Bistort
Calluna vulgaris Heather/Ling
Primula veris Cowslip
Lysimachia vulgaris Creeping-Jenny
Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet
Vinca major Greater Periwinkle
Scrophularia nodosa Common Figwort
Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell
Veronica persica Common Field Speedwell
Melampyrum pratense Common Cow-wheat
Rhinanthus minor Yellow Rattle
Mentha aquatica Water Mint
Melittis melissophyllum Bastard Balm
Lamium purpureum Red Dead-nettle
Salvia horminoides Wild Clary
Salvia pratensis Meadow Clary
Ajuga reptans Bugle
Teucrium scorodonia Wood Sage
Myosotis scorpiodes Water Forget-me-not
Myosotis caespitosa Tufted Forget-me-not
Symphytum officinale Common Comfrey
Pulmonaria longifolia Narrow-leaved Lungwort
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Plantago major Greater Plantain
Sambucus nigra Elder
Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle
Galium aparine Cleavers
Galium cruciata Crosswort
Dipsacus fullonum Teasel
Senecio vulgaris Groundsel
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum Oxeye Daisy
Chrysanthemum vulgare Tansy
Chrysanthemum segetum Corn Marigold
Bellis perennis Daisy
Tripleurospermum maritimum Scentless Mayweed
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort
Cirsium dissectum Meadow Thistle
Centaurea cyanus Cornflower
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Tragopogon pratensis Goats-beard
Tamus communis Black Bryony
Polygonatum multiflorum Common Solomons-seal
Ruscus aculeatus Butchers-broom
Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth
Endymion non-scriptus Bluebell
Allium ursinum Ramsons
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris
Arum maculatum Lords-and-Ladies
Typha latifolia Common Reedmace
Listera ovata Common Twayblade
Orchis palustris Loose-flowered Orchid
Orchis purpurea Lady Orchid
Orchis simea Monkey Orchid
Orchis morio Green-winged Orchid
Platanthera chlorantha Greater Butterfly Orchid
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid
Phragmities australis Common Reed
Quercus rubra Red Oak
Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak
Sorbus domestica True Service Tree
Pinus sylvestris Scots Pine
Pinus pinaster Maritime Pine
Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree
This was the first Travelling Naturalist trip to this lovely region. The hotel was great, the food was excellent and we dont remember how good the wine was so it must have been excellent too! Our hosts at the Hotel St Cyr were most thoughtful and helpful throughout our stay.
Our local guide Maurice Sempe, who joined us for some of the tour, was most helpful and knew exactly where to find things, so a big thank you goes to Maurice.
We managed to clock up 119 species of birds, masses of flowers plus a few species from other groups too. For a first tour to this wonderfully diverse region we feel these are good totals that we would be hard pushed to better in future years but we will try!
We would like to thank all of you guinea pigs oops sorry! clients for joining us on this chateaux, gateaux and bateau trip and we hope you enjoyed the variety as much as we did. We look forward to the pleasure of your company on future tours.
Mike and Liz Read May 2005