Birdwatching at Sandboys

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photo by Alex Burson

Among many good reasons why you might choose the Baie De Somme area for a holiday, is the fact that it’s one of the best places in France for ornithology.  Hundreds of different species of birds can be seen in the Bay, in the Marquenterre Bird Reserve, and even on the lake that’s only a hundred metres or so from our holiday apartments, The Pines, and The West Wing.

Recent visitors, the Burson family, spent a couple of evenings enjoying the view of birds from the hide overlooking this lake, within a short stroll of their front door, where egrets, spoonbill and various types of cormorant can be spotted along with geese, ducks and other wild birds.

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photo by Alex Burson

We were fortunate that young Alex Burson, who is both a keen naturalist and a talented photographer, sent us a few of his photos, which we are very happy and proud to publish here, (and soon in other parts of our website). We particularly liked his photo of an inquisitive seal, one of the colony on the sands of the Authie Bay between Berck and Fort Mahon, which we are publishing in another post.

The Marquenterre Bird reserve is only a 10 minute drive from any of our gites, and the Somme Bay, with its marshes, sand banks, bird life and seascapes, as well as the delightful old towns of St Valery and Le Crotoy is reachable in 20 minutes or so.

For more information on bird and seal watching in the area use the links below.

The Independent

Marquenterre Bird Reserve

Birdforum

free bird watching hide, northen France, Baie De Somme

Evening view from the birdwatchers’ hide at The Pines ~ photo Alex Burson

 

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First bike ride of the year

Originally posted at 1:00 am, March 24th 2011.

Yesterday I pulled my bike out from the back of the garage and went for a ride in the sunshine. As it was my first ride this year I didn’t go very far, and I certainly didn’t try to go very fast.

The village we live in really is a perfect place to have a bike. If you just want a gentle ride there are miles of country roads and farm tracks that enable you to get from here to almost any other place you want to go in the area without ever having to go on a busy road. At worst you might have to cross one.

Stick to the seaward side of our village and of the D940 coast road, and you’ll always be riding on the flat, but if you want a bit more exercise, or a change of scenery, head East and you’re very soon going uphill. The further you go the more energetic your ride will become. Not for nothing do they call the region inland from here “The Seven Valleys”. Between the valleys are steep hills – thankfully the climbs are not too long and you don’t have to be Greg Armstrong or Alberto Contador to get up them. The reward for your effort will be not just a pleasant ride through beautiful countryside, but that, as everything to the East is higher than the flat coastal strip, your ride back home will be almost all downhill!

I took the farm lanes that run close to the River Authie estuary and soon came to the tiny harbour of La Madelon. The boats there all look as though they’ve had no use since last year. They need a bit of a clean-up and some maintenance, but no doubt some proud owners will be along soon to scrub, sand and varnish where necessary before taking their boats out for a few hours of coastal sailing.

Left high and dry by one of the highest tides of the year

Some of the highest tides of the year always occur in March, but it was still a bit of a surprise to find one yacht high and dry on the grass several yards from the river. It looked as if it might have broken free from its mooring and drifted ashore on an exceptionally high tide. One thing’s certain, it’ll be a long, long wait for another tide high enough to float it off. I expect they’ll have to come and get it with a crane and a lorry.

The restaurant at La Madelon, which has developed quite a reputation over the last 4 or 5 years and is highly regarded in French dining guides, is offering a lunch menu at around 13 euros. A very small price to pay for carefully prepared food in a superb setting. Unfortunately I was there on a Wednesday – their weekly closing day.

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