‘Even in the apparently sleepy rural setting of Brion, there is a wide range of birds (many of them quite rare in the UK) to interest visitors.

The local countryside around Brion is a mixture of woodland, farmland and heath and so we see the birds that favour each of these habitats.

On the first sounds to be heard on arrival at le Logis du Pressoir is the soft ‘ter-ter-ter’ of Turtle Doves – they are very common here. And that sound is normally quickly followed by the ‘kik-kik-kik’ call of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Not rare in the UK but here they are abundant.

The highlight for most people interested in birds is the Hoopoe, which seems to be here and often spotted in the morning sunshine. If you miss that one, there are several others locally and walking some of the local lanes might give you a glimpse of its beautiful black, white and orange plumage.

During the course of other local walks, no further than 3 miles from le Logis, you might also see White Wagtail (the paler version of the UK’s Pied Wagtail), Stonechats (often on telegraph wires), a Hobby, hawking for swifts or dragonflies, Black Redstart (try to walk along the road to La Chatterie), a totally unconcerned Black Kite, or Cirl Bunting (try the walk to Château Mothaye), while Nightingales (quite common), as well as dozens of other birds more familiar in the UK.

A short drive to the Loire (try the river route between Gennes and park at Le Thoureil) will also give you easy views not only of Common Tern but also their much scarcer smaller relatives, Little Tern, with their distinctive yellow bills.

Oh, and if you are very, very lucky, you might get to see a Black Woodpecker, but we can’t promise!’

S & G Thompson. UK.

P.s. If you forget to bring along your bird spotter’s guide, Mark and Lisa are always willing to lend theirs.