February 2009 La Brenne

Not surprisingly for a trip in February, we had to contend with snow on our journey down and on one day during our stay. Luckily it did not disrupt our work – we continued to make progress with the scrub clearance at Étang La Touche and with the work on the recently opened up area beside the new reserve at Étang Purais. We were joined by Istvan, one of our friends from Aggtelek National Park in Hungary and his brother-in-law who lived and worked with us during our stay and even prepared delicious Hungarian meals for us.

One of the benefits of visiting La Brenne in winter is the chance to see the fantastic flock of wintering cranes – on two evenings we watched around 2000 coming in to roost for the night beside a lake. What a spectacle!

Another highlight was the visit to the Roc-aux-Sorciers museum at Angles-sur-Anglin to see an inspired interpretation of locally found prehistoric rock sculptures dating from 14000 BC


Alan Haynes Celia Strachan
Katie Dean Mary-Anne Collis
Natalie Gin Peter George
Tracy Cumberbatch Species List

October 2009 La Brenne

We began work at three new sites during this visit – opening up a woodland growing on a former grazing pasture in order to encourage the Snake’s Head Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris); clearing sallow trees in a marlpit in order to attract rare species of dragonflies into it, and clearing thorn and bramble in front of one of the public hides in order to improve the visibility for the visitors when the hide is rebuilt. In addition, we carried out further scrub cutting to remove the regrowth in the areas we have previously cleared.

We were very lucky to see the first Cranes arriving in La Brenne for the winter – at least 300 came in to roost at the Étang de la Mer Rouge – perhaps the same birds as we had seen crossing Poland a month earlier. We were also very lucky to have the opportunity to visit Denis Vandrome and his wife, who run a dairy goat herd in the western part of La Brenne. Denis is also the local moth expert and helps with the butterfly transect surveys in the area. As well as looking at the goats and buying some of the typical Brennou cheeses, we were able to see a Clifden Nonpareil moth that had been attracted to his moth light the previous night, then watch it as it flew away, looking for all the world like a bat.

Possibly the main event of the visit was the Randonnée d’automne, the great day out on foot, horseback and bike with perhaps 300 people taking part. Four of our group completed the full, exhausting 73km bicycle route, but most were pleased with 50km. In true French style, the refreshments were frequent and lavish, the 9.30am break being sausage, cheese or pate rolls washed down with cider or wine, and the lunch being a sit-down affair in a marquee beside a lake, with unlimited red wine available.


Anne Roberts Penny Smallshire
Roger Gravestock Amy Curtis
Gary Ellcome Nicola Shearer
Tom Eves Species List

October 2009 Najac



Erica Mortimer Julia Walling
Tim Beecher Mark Jeffery
Debbie Binch