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A range of coastal habitats can be explored in this estuary on the south coast of Brittany to the south-east of the Golfe du Morbihan. There are sandy, shingle and rocky beaches, extensive inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarsh and cliffs.
The area is important for tens of thousands of waders, waterfowl and seabirds in autumn and winter.
Grebes, and sometimes divers, and various ducks occur in the area in winter including Northern Pintail, scoters and often Long-tailed Duck. Greater Scaup is present in thousands and this is one of the best sites for this species in France. Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Eurasian Wigeon can also be seen in winter as well as a good range of waders.
In autumn skuas of three species can be seen at the estuary mouth, also Balearic Shearwater and a variety of gulls and terns.
This estuary is an excellent site for Sabine's Gull in mid-September following severe storms at sea. Scrubby areas on local cliff-tops host Dartford Warbler.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Pied Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Sabine's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Stonechat, Dartford Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
For the cliffs at Mine-d'Or return to the D34 and head for Asserac and follow signs to Mine-d'Or to the right. North from here there is a viewpoint from the cliffs between Pointe de Cofreneau and Pointe du Halguen that can be reached from Haute Penestin.
It is also possible to watch the estuary mouth from the northern side at Pointe de Penlan which can be reached via the Arzal Dam.
To the south of Penestin is Plage de Loscolo, head for Asserac and turn off at Kerfalher. The rocks here are good for wintering Ruddy Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper and offshore are grebes, divers, auks and Red-breasted Merganser.
Access and Facilities
The estuary can be viewed from several points and there is open access to the entire area. To reach Baie de Vilaine head for La Roche-Bernard on the N165 Vannes to Nantes road. From here take the D34 towards Penestin and turn right to Trehiguier from where the mudflats at Bronzais can be viewed.
Content and images originally posted by Steve