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A Report from

Birdwatching in the Marais Poitevin, Vendee. France,

Derek Cooper

We stopped in a Gite in a little village called Chevrette for two weeks in June of 1997. 

It is situated between Lucon and Fontenay le Comte. To the north of the village, the land is intensively farmed with Arable crops. The land is quite undulating and reminded me of farmland up on the Yorkshire Wolds. 

Although there was not a lot of birdlife here, the farmland did reveal Stone Curlew, Hobby, Hen Harrier, and up to three Buzzards. There were lots of Turtle Dove, Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Kestrel, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Skylark. Around the village of Chevrette, Hoopoe was heard daily and Black Redstart nested with Swallow in our adjoining Barn. Occasionally Black Kite would circle over the village.  

To the south of Chevrette the land was quite flat. Once you got away from the Village and Farms, the roads turned into lanes and then into tracks.The countryside is very different from  the land to the north of Chevrette. There are many Dykes and Ditches that crisscross areas of Grassland, Copses, Woodlands,  Hedges and Reedbeds.  

Highlights included two Cattle Egrets amongst some grazing cattle. There were many Grey and Purple Heron to be seen on open Grassland along with Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Black Kite, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Red Backed Shrike was observed feeding young in Brambles and the countryside seem to be alive with Whinchat, Corn Bunting, Tree and Meadow Pipit. Golden Oriole and Nightingale were singing in the woodland areas, whilst Quail was calling in the Grasslands.  

There was a lot Warbler activity especially from Reed, Sedge and Garden Warbler. Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were observed along with Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Jay and Yellowhammer. There were a lot of the Farmland birds that we see in Britain, but in far larger numbers than I have ever seen.   

It is worth noting  that the countryside from Lucon to the Atlantic coast resort of La Tranche is alive with Hen, Marsh and Montagu's Harrier along with Black Kite, Hobby, Kestrel and Herons.  

Derek Cooper. (


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