Loire & Sologne

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 d’Orleans 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 d’Orleans 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 children’s 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 wasn’t 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 l’Arche 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 Hergé’s 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 d’Omblin 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 Viatre’s 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 Naturalist’s 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 l’Arche 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 d’Orleans 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 d’Orleans

Gadwall: Three on 10th near Courmemin, 2 at the Etang de l’Arche on 11th and also seen on 12th at the Etang de Beaumont

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 d’Orleans on 8th then seen in good numbers on 11th at the Etang de l’Arche (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 d’Orleans and also seen on 12th on various etangs near St Viatre

Osprey: A nesting pair were seen in the Foret d’Orleans 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 l’Arche on 11th & 1 the following day at the Etang de Goujounniere

Short-toed Eagle: Two on 8th in the Foret d’Orleans and at least 3 on 11th, 2 south of the Cher River and 1 close to the Etang de l’Arche

Hen Harrier: A female on 8th near the Foret d’Orleans 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 d’Orleans 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

The only sighting was of a pair close to the Etang de l’Arche 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 d’Orleans 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 l’Arche

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 l’Arche.

(Eurasian) Sky Lark: Noted every day from 8th in good numbers.

(European) Sand Martin: A good colony close to Foret d’Orlean 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 l’Arche 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 l’Arche 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 d’Orlean 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 d’Orlean 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 d’Orlean 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 d’Orlean, 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 Frog

Marsh Frog


Common Wall Lizard

Green Lizard



Scarce swallowtail

Large white

Small white

Green-veined white


Clouded yellow


Wood white

Green hairstreak

Small copper

Holly blue

Common blue

Duke of Burgundy fritillary

Camberwell beauty

Red admiral


Glanville fritillary

Small heath

Speckled wood

Wall brown


Black-tailed Skimmer

Broad-bodied Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Club-tailed Dragonfly

Azure Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

Red-eyed Damselfly


Broad-bordered Bee-hawk

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 Mare’s-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 Crane’s-bill

Geranium pyrenaicum Hedgerow Crane’s-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 Sheep’s 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 Goat’s-beard

Tamus communis Black Bryony

Polygonatum multiflorum Common Solomon’s-seal

Ruscus aculeatus Butcher’s-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 don’t 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

© The Travelling Naturalist 2005