The Loire valley lies right in the heart of France. The grand river Loire flows right through the centre of the region and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its high concentration of stunning castles and stately homes. Perhaps less known is the fact that this region also supports a mouth-watering flora and fauna.
Two major natural areas within the region are the Brenne and the Sologne both of which sport hundreds of marsh-fringed lakes. These lakes together form some of France's finest wetlands, with large populations of Purple and Night Herons, Little Bitterns, Whiskered Terns, Black-necked Grebes and much more.
But the avian interest extends far beyond the wetlands. The landscape is a patchwork of forests, heathlands, streams, unimproved, hedge-lined meadows and fields, where birdwatchers can meet with an extraordinary assemblage of birds. What goes for the avifauna holds true for the reptiles and amphibians, the flora and butterflies. The Loire and its tributaries is one of Europe's finest areas for dragonflies. This guide highlights the most beautiful nature reserves and aids the reader in finding the most interesting, birds, plants, butterflies and dragonflies in the area.
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Loire Valley (Loire, Brenne and Sologne, France)
by Keith Betton in the United Kingdom (24/01/2012)
Some people visit the Loire Valley for its impressive chateaux or world-class wines and as a result it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What most people don't realise is that it is also a great region for wildlife. This book covers three areas – the Loire-Anjou Regional Park between Angers and Tours, the Sologne just south of Orléans, and the Brenne to the east of Poitiers.
The Brenne and the Sologne are peppered with hundreds of marsh-fringed lakes and here you can find good populations of Purple and Night Herons, Little Bitterns, Whiskered Terns and Black-necked Grebes. Up to ten pairs of Ospreys breed in the Solgne, while to the north is the Forest of Orléans where as many as 30 pairs are to be found. But the habitats also include heathland and unimproved grassland. Here you can find Hoopoes, Bee-eaters (and recent colonist) and Short-toed Eagles, while Little Bustards are in the drylands of Meron and Rock Sparrows are at Fontevraud.
This book follows the same style as others in the Crossbill series – and introduction to the landscape, geology and habitats followed by sections on each of the flora and fauna groupings. Then there is a range of 17 routes to explore, two of which are designer for cyclists. Throughout there are maps and photographs and helpful notes to maximise enjoyment of the area.
Four pages are used to provide a bird list, which in common with previous Crossbill guides is a bit brief and lacking in detail, but points out locations for the main target species. The thing to remember is that this book is for all naturalists and not just birders! However there is an extensive list of all species of animal and plant mentioned in the book – but unfortunately not as an index. That small gripe aside, once again Crossbill have created an excellent guide book.