We’re staying in a rural cottage in the bocage area of Basse Normandie between Villedieu-les-Poeles and Brecey. It’s a spot that we’ve visited four or five times now as guests of our friends Fiona and Jean-Luc and we’ve never failed to have an enjoyable and relaxing time here.

Set on a hillside with views over the fields and woods, you can see as far as Mont St Michel in the distance, its distinctive conical silhouette being visible most of the time. However the weather in this area is so like the south-west of England – it just occasionally gets a bit warmer at times!

The birds of the area are typical of the region. Lots of Blue/Great Tits, Nuthatches, Greater spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Blackcaps and lots of Buzzards! Fiona is very proud of her Spotted Flycatchers and this year they’re nesting in the ‘cellar’. Yellowhammers call from the surrounding fields and Jays are always screaming their raucous calls. I’ve seen Short-toed Treecreepers here regularly and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in the orchard but not so far this year.

The first day we were here I could regularly hear a Turtle Dove calling but not since. I’ve never had that species here before.

A wander around the lanes and fields has generated some botanical and entomological interest including a humdinger of a spider (Argiope bruennichi) that we watched setting its traps and capturing numerous grasshoppers.

Argiope bruennichi (Wasp Spider)


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