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Places I like to go


 

The department of Loire-Atlantique is scattered with wet areas...the marshes of Goulaine, the Loire estuary, the salt marshes of Guérande, the Brière, the Breton marshes, the surroundings of the lake of Grand-Lieu, the coastline,...so many playgrounds where I carry around my camera seeking rare moments.


The Loire estuary :

The Loire estuary, large wetland of about 20,000 ha, is one of the last wild estuaries in France.
I mostly walk along the North bank of the Loire and especially the territory of the ”Syndicat Intercommunal de Chasse au Gibier d'Eau de Basse-Loire Nord/Basse-Loire Nord”, association of communes for waterfowl hunting. It is a portion of wet lands, located between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, that extends itself 60km along the Loire, covering about 10 000Ha. The association of communes for waterfowl hunting’s main objectives are to rationally manage hunting in a sustainable way on the territory and to ensure the best preservation of these wet areas.

As you travel the 60kms along that part of the Loire, the landscape changes. Groves and unsalted meadows upstream become large meadows and mudflats downstream. Many channels wind through these marshes which are flooded during high tides. It is scattered over with reed beds and some groves.

This diversity of natural environments allows us to meet many birds, as subservient to the coastline as to areas of fresh water. There are all the species of dabbling ducks, five species of geese, many waders and sparrows, large wading birds such as herons, egrets, spoonbills, storks, or small wading birds such as stilts, avocets, lapwings...Large populations of nutria and wild boar live in the reed beds near the Loire. However, there are only a few reptiles and amphibians on this territory.


The salt marshes :

Located between the Loire and the Vilaine, the salt marshes of Guérande cover about 2000Ha, over two basins. The "Bassin du Mes" in the south of the estuary of the Vilaine, that covers about 300ha, and the “Basin de Guérande” which covers about 1700Ha, north of the Loire estuary. Created in the 5th century, salt marshes are man-made wetlands. The management of water levels in the various basins depends on the seasons and on the various maintenance work that the salt producers, must do in the marshes to harvest the natural and quality products that are crystals of “fleur de sel” (french sea salt) and large sea salt of Guérande.

The landscape of salt marshes is a mosaic of pools/basins of different shapes, depths and salinities. These pools of salt water are interspersed with creeks and slopes that allow sea water to be supplied deep into the marshes. A multitude of small freshwater pools punctuate this wetland, which participates in allowing an extra ordinary biodiversity.

300 species of birds are present in this wetland, including the Bluethroat, the stilt, the avocet, dabbling ducks, brant geese, egrets and herons and a multitude of shorebirds, passerines and gulls... Many mammals also roam the slopes such as weasels, foxes, wild boars, raccoons, small mammals, ... Some reptiles and amphibians share the sunny slopes and freshwater areas.


The marshes of Goulaine :

The marshes of Goulaine : The marshes of Goulaine are a vast wetland in the south-east of Nantes, covering an area of ​​about 2000Ha of marsh and farmland. In winter, 1200Ha are flooded to welcome the waterbirds, the hunting and the production of pike in the heyday (the Goulaine marshes are the largest spawning ground for pike in France). It will be drained in the spring. Water management is fully managed by man.

The winter landscape of the marsh is a great mix of flat waters interspersed with willows and reeds, gridded by channels of different widths and depths.

In summer, the flat waters are replaced by many plants, among them the "sedge" which will be mowed and exported to avoid the rising of the bottom of the marsh and to serve as bedding. The periphery of the marsh consists of a grove, of vines and vegetable crops.

This wetland area is visited by many water birds such as ducks and dabbling ducks, coots, geese, grebes, herons, egrets, shorebirds, raptors, passerines ... but also mammals such as raccoons, muskrats , foxes, wild boars, deer ... The wetlands also attract many amphibians such as newts and frogs. Grass snakes, adders, snakes, wall lizards and green lizards roam the marshes and their peripheries.