Pays de la Loire

Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula ©Ashley Beolens Website
Birding Pays-de-la-Loire

The region consists of the Departments of: Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe & Vendee. The traditional Provinces of: Anjou, Bretagne, Maine & Poitou.

The Loire Valley is known for its châteaux, fine wines and of course, its stunning scenery. But of course, behind all that are the birds, bees and other wildlife who have made the Loire Valley their home, its climate means that it is inhabited by many species that can’t often be found, if at all in the UK. There is so much to see, and much of it is off the beaten track, undiscovered by tourists. Wine, chateaux, Little Bustards, and Whiskered Terns – all within 20 miles of Saumur. What more could you possibly ask for? This is a superbly biodiverse region with some knockout wildlife which includes breeding European Beavers. The latter were reintroduced into the area 25 years ago very successfully and can be seen up and down the river, but particularly the Ile de a Folie in Chaumont sur Loire, where one can see dams and the beavers hard at work.

Top Sites
  • Foret de Pail - Cornich de Pail

    Satellite View
    Between Villaines la Juhel and Pre en Pail, the Corniche (an area of heath with a few trees) holds breeding Nightjars and Hen Harriers. Occassional Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and numerous heathland birds. The forest also has Goshawk, Hobby, and Scops Owl all breeding.
  • Foret de Sillé

    Satellite View
    This is close to Sillé le Guillaume (from which follow signs to La Plage) which is 33kms north-west of Le Mans. Park in the often very crowded car park and visit the lake and the woodland for Black, Middle-spotted, and Grey-headed woodpeckers, Crossbills, Wood, Bonelli's, and Melodious Warblers. Examine carefully the foraging tit flocks for Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers and Firecrests.
  • Lac de Grande Lieu

    Satellite View
    South of the River Loire at Nantes. There are 4 well-known points of access [but there must be more].1. St. Aignan Grandlieu - A short walk from the signposted car park. Excellent views but a scope is recommended. Good for waders and terns.2. Pont St. Martin - Park at the side of the river bridge then walk to the lake through various marshland habitats. Excellent in spring and early summer.3. Passay - Observatory tower for visitors but go down to the lake itself. During one May visit we had Night Heron, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, and Black Kite. 4.St. Lumine-de-Coutais - Drive to informal car park at end of Rue du Stade (D71). We had 7-800 Whiskered Terns here.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 391

    (As at March 2019)
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide to France North of the Loire

    | By Jacquie Crozier | Arlequin Press | 2003 | Paperback | 266 pages, colour photos, maps | ISBN: 9781900159760 Buy this book from
  • Groupe Naturaliste Loire-Atlantique

    Le GNLA est une association Loi 1901, née en 2004, d’un désir de constituer un réseau convivial de naturalistes, professionnels ou non, représentant différentes disciplines. Nos activités découlent d’un objectif principal, à savoir la constitution d’un pôle de savoirs naturalistes à même d’aider les gestionnaires et décideurs dans les orientations prises en vue de la protection de la nature.
  • Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux - Loire-Atlantique

    Bienvenue sur le site de la Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux de Loire-Atlantique. Vous pourrez y trouver, toutes les informations sur la LPO et ses activit
  • Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Anjou

    The LPO Anjou is present throughout the departmental territory thanks to its local groups of volunteers, essential actors of the associative life. All the citizens who wish it are freely invited to join them, in order to act for the protection of the nature. The groups are the local pillars of the departmental association.

Abbreviations Key

  • RP Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park

    InformationSatellite View
    The Marais Poitevin is a large area of marshland in western France, a remnant of the former Gulf of Poitou. The myriad canals are covered in green duckweed (hence the Green Venice nickname) and the drained marsh land is home to a varied fauna.
  • RP Brière Regional Natural Park

    InformationSatellite View
    It covers a total area of 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) with a core of wetland, the Grande Brière, covering approximately 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres).
  • RP Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Northern France Wildlife Tours

    Tour Operator
    Northern France Wildlife Tours Ltd, based in Averton, Mayenne, was born when Roy and Shirley Croucher realised that breeding Black Woodpeckers, Little Bustards and White Storks were well worth stopping for. When they found country lanes lined with orchids and cowslips, over which danced Swallowtail and Clouded Yellow Butterflies and Hummingbird Hawk Moths, they were convinced!
Trip Reports
  • 2009 [08 August] - Geoff Dicker

    Driving on to our destination we didn’t get to see much until we were over the St Nazaire bridge over the Loire. Once into the marshes around Beauvoir–Sur–Mer we saw a couple of Black Kites, Cattle & Little Egrets, Marsh & Montagu’s Harrier and a Short-Toed Eagle from the D51 road. Cattle Egrets have obviously spread into this area significantly since our last visit in 1997 when we didn’t see one…
  • 2017 [05 May] - Bob Swann - Vendee

    PDF Report
    ...We continued south towards La Tranch-sur-Mer in the Parc Natural Regional du Marais Poitevin. This was a very flat, mainly pastoral area. Stopped by a river for lunch. Many Barn Swallow, House Martin and a Common Swift feeding over the river and surrounding fields. The riverside scrub held a pair of Turtle Dove, Magpie, Stonechat, Linnets and in the reeds a Reed Warbler. In the fields flava Yellow Wagtails, Lapwing, Carrion Crow, a group of roosting Lesser Black-backed Gull with some Herring Gulls, whilst Black Kites and Marsh Harriers hunted overhead....
Places to Stay
  • La Basse Cour, Ancinnes, Pays de la Loire

    This XVIII century Normandy farmhouse has three beautiful en-suite guest rooms (chambres d'hôtes) approved by Gîtes de France. The guest house is in a lovely setting by a lake, surrounded by wooded and planted gardens on the fringes of the Forest of Perseigne, straddling the Orne (Normandy) and Sarthe (Pays de Loire)…
  • Parc Mayenne

    The Parc and surrounding areas are home to many birds and already growing as a known bird watching retreat.

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