If you’re interested in wildlife, Étoile du Nord is the perfect place for a relaxed break surrounded by birds, mammals, butterflies, wildflowers and more.
When you stay here the Forêt Domaniale des Andaines is right on your doorstep.
Get up early for the best chance of seeing deer, red squirrels and wild boar. Explore the forests and lakes for crested tits, hawfinches, a variety of woodpeckers, birds of prey, egrets and wildfowl. Or simply chill in the gite’s grounds – garden birds and regular sightings include black redstarts, stonechats, spotted flychatchers, marsh tits, three varieties of owl, middle-spotted and lesser-spotted woodpeckers, white and grey wagtails, and bats and coypu are resident too.
Visit in the autumn to see the forest colours at their finest, along with a huge variety of fungi – and lots of locals out foraging, filling baskets with delicious mushrooms (although only go foraging yourself if you have absolute confidence in your fungi identification skills!).
Other birdwatching and natural history sites within easy reach include:
Lakes in the Mayenne department (for example, Etang de Beaucoudray and Etang de Neuvillette) are good sites for ruddy duck (one of the last places in France to see them), a variety of wildfowl, herons, little and great egrets, and waders.
Le Gast (in the Manche department) is a good forest/lake site for the region’s forest species, and birds typical of lakes, including ducks and perhaps osprey.
Mont-Saint-Michel bay is a popular site for waders, particularly during migration in spring and autumn, and Carolles is good for a variety of migrants, both on land and over the sea.
Sallanelles is a good wetland site for anyone travelling through Caen with a little time to spare. And close to Le Havre, the Réserve Naturelle Nationale de l’Estuaire de la Seine is a site rich in a huge variety of birds and other wildlife.