Bird Watching in Normandy in Winter


The swallows have gone.  The leaves are falling and so is the temperature.  However whilst these changes mean summer is long gone and winter is snapping hard at the heels of autumn, it also means that now is a good time to go bird watching in Normandy.  With few leaves to hide behind it is much easier to see our local feathered friends.

I have written before on my other blog (A Green and Rosie Life) about rare birds you can see locally but at this time of year I take much enjoyment in simply seeing more common birds - and on a bright and frosty winter's day you can really appreciate their plumage.  So what are my favourites?

Favourite Winter Birds in Normandy


Yellowhammers (Bruant jaune)

A much needed flash of yellow to brighten up winter.  We have a flock of these that I regularly see on the road from the gite up to Lénault


Goldfinches (Chardonneret)

Now I think these are up there in my top 5 of all time favourite birds.  They are just so colourful and for that reason I always let some of my weeds such as thistles go to seed.  Watching goldfinches feed on a patch of thistle heads is an absolute joy and I am happy to have a few extra weeds next year if that is the price I have to pay.

Buzzards (Buse)

Something a bit larger this time.  Travel along  any country lane in this part of Normandy and keep your eye on the overhead wires and fence posts and I am sure you'll see more than one of these majestic birds.  Alternatively look up in the sky and you'll see them soaring high.  Stunning birds ... although not immune to accidents as I wrote about in this poem  - From Sky to Earth

Robins (Rouge-gorge)

It's is funny how few of these resident birds you see through the summer but in winter that red breast catches the sunlight and they seem to be everywhere.  No wonder they are the iconic Christmas bird and I just love seeing them!

Long tailed tits (Mésange à longue queue)

This particular tit stays in family groups and often, when walking around the Lénault footpaths, I will see a family group, flitting through the bare branches, chattering endlessly to each other.  Lovely!

Long tailed tits on a bird feeder

Fieldfares (Grive litorne) and Redwings (Grive mauvis

You know winter is here with the arrival of these birds from the thrush family.  Thank goodness we planted so many hawthorn bushes in our hedges as they love to gorge on the berries through the cold winter days.

Lapwings (Vanneau huppé)

In the summer lapwings spend their time at the coast but bad winter weather sends them inland and large flocks of them can been seen in fields around the gite.  Watching hundreds of these black and white beauties rise into the sky when disturbed is a truly wonderful sight.

Coastal waders

If lapwings have piqued your interest in similar birds then a trip up to the Normandy coast is what you need.  Pack a hot drink and take a walk along the now quiet beaches where hundreds of dunlin (Bécasseau variable), redshank (Chevalier gambette), oystercatchers (Huîtrier pie) and gulls (mouettes) etc. will have taken the place of summer sunbathers and sand castle builders. 

Flock of Dunlin at Ouistreham Beach, Normandy 

Wading birds on Ouistreham Beach, Normandy

I have given the name of these birds in French in brackets.  You can find more info on the birds you might see at Eco-Gites of Lenault and their French names on this post - Bird names in French.

Are you a seasoned birdwatcher who enjoys heading out in winter?  If so do head over to Normandy and give me a helping hand identifying all those other birds I see here and at the beach but that I simply have to classify as "LBJ's" - (Little Brown jobs!!)