Monday, 9 May 2011

National Park of Grande Briere, Brittany


Southern Brittany covers the department of Loire-Atlantique and contains some superb gems for birdwatchers.  The first of these is The National Park of Grande Briere a huge reed bed of nearly 100,000 acres. The Park has a road running around it so you can call in at different places or stand at the side of the road. We got Purple Heron, Bearded Reedling, Black Kite and Cormorant within thirty seconds of pulling into a picnic area on the eastern side of the marsh.
There are tracks that can lead you into marsh but the best way to see this place is either the excellent hides on the eastern side or to take a traditional punt boat and silently glide in and out of the reeds. This will allow you to savour Marsh Harriers, White Stork, Whiskered Tern, Fan-tailed Warbler, Night  Heron and Kingfishers going about their daily business undisturbed by the noise of an engine. 

The best place to do this is Brecca on the western shore of the marsh where there is also an observation tower giving you extensive views of the reeds. Do look out for nd Bluethroat about a mile south of here on the road to St Nazaire. In short there are many roads leading down to the shore of the marsh so it pays to spend at least a whole day here from dawn until dusk.

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