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Friday, 12 July 2013

French Friday - la Pointe du Grouin

Summer has arrived at last and so on Monday we headed for the coast, to our favourite spot, Port Mer, just north of Cancale, which I wrote about last summer. The weather was perfect with not a cloud in the sky, and we lunched on moules frites and watched the tourists braving the sea, which I am sure was freezing cold but I did not test!

Afterwards we headed just up the road to the headland called la Pointe du Grouin. This headland marks one end of the Bay of Mont Saint Michel and just beside it is a long rocky island called Ile des Landes, which is marked as a bird reserve on maps, but I've never seen anything more exciting than seagulls and cormorants on it!

Ile des Landes bird reserve and lighthouse.

Looking back from la Pointe du Grouin towards Port Mer,
which is behind the rocky outcrop where the yachts are.
Cropped strangely to take out tourists' heads. Damn tourists get everywhere ;-)

What started out as a bit of a boring wander along paths with tall vegetation of brambles and Blackthorn bushes soon turned to mown patches which were wired off from the path. Not very interesting until we got to the other side of the actual headland and realised there is a big restauration project going on here to restore the coastal heathland to its natural habitat. Here the flora was completely different and the fauna was very interesting. There followed a wonderful couple of hours exploring the different wildflowers and watching everything that moved. Buggy heaven!

The sign says "Here the Departement is working to restore the heathland,
please respect the protected zones - and no picnicking"!

There were low wires beside the paths marking where we were not supposed to walk.
I was pleased to see that, given the amount of people about, everyone was respecting this.

The first buggy thing I spotted was really exciting as I have never seen these moths before! I think they were Five Spot Burnet moths but there were many variable markings and there are quite a few varieties of Burnet moth which look similar. Suffice to say, they are moths of the Zygaena genus, and there were loads of them!

Burnet moths (Zygaena sp.) with different markings,
here feeding on Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare). 

The second huge excitement was seeing this Large Skipper butterfly, another first for me! I couldn't get closer due to the wires keeping us off the wild areas but my superzoom camera came in very handy!

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) feeding on a Thistle.

Even the grass seed heads here were really pretty, especially the grass on the left.
Unfortunately I don't know what it is
but I'm sure there are cultivated decorative grasses like this.

For anyone who read my recent post about Cap de Creus in Spain - it did strike me during this thoroughly enjoyable afternoon that this was not hugely different from there! Different plants for sure (although there was yellow Broom flowering in the car park here) and some of the birds and insects are different, but the Breton coastline is beautiful, rugged in places with white sandy beaches, and I'd just seen some insects that were even more exciting than those I'd seen in Spain. We lacked seeing any special birds this particular afternoon, but really I wasn't actually in bird spotting mode.... So the moral of this paragraph is that we (I!!) should not dismiss what's in our own backyards and that the grass is not always greener on the other side!

No idea but what doesn't actually come across in the photo
is just how shiny and metallic this tiny beetle is!

Top left: Shield Bug (Carpocoris sp.) on a Thistle
Top right: A little beetle on a Hawkbit flower (Leontodon sp.)
Bottom left: A snail on Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris)
Bottom right: male Thick Legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) on Ragwort

Note the concrete WWII gun emplacement on the rocks.
I also noticed on all my photos that there's a dark strata in the rocks everywhere around here -
knowing little about geology I don't know what it signifies.

Pollen for dinner on this Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), with a bit of buggy love going on too.
The red beetle is a Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) and
the others I see at home but haven't yet managed to ID.

I was really pleased to find this little Crab Spider
waiting for dinner to arrive on a Yarrow flower.

This colourful little wasp is known as a Cuckoo or Jewel Wasp from the family Chrysididae. Most species in this family are cleptoparasitic, laying their eggs in the nests of solitary bees or wasps, where their larvae consume the egg and stored pollen in the nest.

Cuckoo or Jewel Wasp from the family Chrysididae.
I think this flower was Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota),
which was abundant here.

I wasn't the only one taking photos - my OH was too!

Back to wildflowers - a very common plant in coastal areas
is Sea Thrift or Sea Pink (Armeria maritima).

Around this lichen and moss covered rock there is a mix of Sea Thrift
gone to seed, various grasses and the red looking plant is a
low growing Stonecrop or Sedum of some kind.

We then drove from the headland to the next beach along in the direction of St Malo, known as le Verger (the orchard). Behind the sand dunes there is a freshwater lake but we've been here before and could not find any access to it from the various footpaths and there were no signboards with any directions. On top of that, the footpaths are pure sand which makes walking really tough! There was a good enough view of the lake from the chapel up the hill and I walked through the paddock next to it to take the photos of the lake.

Le Verger chapel

The lake, taken from the paddock beside the chapel.

Just to show off the zoom capabilities of my SX50,
here are a male and female Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula).

Ugh. No thanks. :-)
Well it would be OK without the tourists!

The sand dunes behind the beach were more interesting!
I found it really surprising that Everlasting Sweet Peas were growing so well in pure sand.
Maybe they were garden escapees which colonised here.
The yellow flowers are a Sedum of some sort.

Two different colours of Everlasting Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius).
I have the bright pink one at home.

Finally, you know it's holiday season when a light plane flies by pulling a banner saying "Bonnes Vacances" (Happy Holidays). Bizarre!

Bonnes vacances!


  1. It's certainly easy to see why you love this location! What an amazing full of wonderful photo ops :-)

    All your photos make this place even more enticing! Of course I really love your insects!

    One another note....I'm getting a little bored with G+ and the latest issues have been a great excuse to stay away. Each time I take time off from it, I get so much done and it continues to confirm what I already know. Google Plus is a tremendous "timesuck"! Maybe if I could manage my time better, I would enjoy it more but I'm no good at that.

    In the meantime, Instagram fulfills my need for sharing photos. This morning I even shot a little video of the Sunrise and posted it. ( Love this new feature. What I love most about Instagram, though, is I don't feel compelled to comment which is just impossible.

    1. Love your video Marianne - your skylines are so interesting with the cactus in them! Just looked at your latest Instagram photos and was trying to figure out what I was looking at with the lizard (for the few secs before reading what you wrote) then laughed out loud! I'm eating at the moment... :-)

      Know what you mean about G+ - I'm not bored with it, but it's just way too time consuming. Try curating too. Frustrating because some people can't understand the buggy lunch theme as many of the photos are just bugs, not even feeding. :-/ So I'm taking time off each week as there's too much going on here. I want to get more on my blog anyway as it's a record for me, even if it doesn't reach a wide audience.

      And thanks very much for your lovely comment! We went out again yesterday to a forest with lakes just heaving with Odonata, and Small Skippers up on the higher ground - took loads more photos as you can imagine. We are making a concerted effort to get out more this summer, especially now we have some real summer weather! :-)

    2. Happy you liked my video! Arizona is so unlike anywhere. As for Cleo...I almost didn't take that photo but felt there are plenty of cat lovers who would get a laugh out of it :-) Another time, I found vomit with a partially digested Gecko in it and of course it became a photo of the day :-)

      Re G+...."Bored" was a very poor choice of words. It's not boredom. It's frustration with the time it takes. It's just not fun anymore. I'm hoping this time off helps.

      As for being a curator....I think I can imagine what you're going through. I've been asked several times to help curate and felt guilty saying no but KNEW it would be overwhelming even though I would be one of several curators. I'm too conscientious and become guilt ridden if things aren't taken care of immediately. I actually started posting less to themes because I felt guilty :-)

      I leave in a couple of days and will comment on your latest post when I get up there. I loved seeing all your flowers! Sadly....I will probably miss several Echinopsis blooms while gone but that's how it goes sometimes.

    3. Yes that's just it re. the guilt factor and being too conscientious, I feel I have to comment on every post and I too don't share to as many themes any more as I know what hard work it is for those curators who always respond. Anyway never mind that, it can look after itself for a few days here and there. It's summer!

      Have a lovely time away and enjoy all the wonderful wild things in cooler weather! Don't worry about commenting on my flower post, you already have! I too hate to miss anything in my garden whilst away but there are so many other things to enjoy out there, I'm sure you'll find plenty to make up for it. :-)