© Aymeric Picot
Our must-see places in the region

Fragile natural environments

Sensitive environments : taking care of our wilderness

Our region’s natural features are an asset. We have many protected areas or areas to protect because they are rich in rare fauna and flora and we must ensure their survival. The biodiversity of these areas is a treasure to be preserved !

The hedges of our woodland

Hedges for hedgehogs

Hedges are an everyday part of our environment. They are composed of trees and/or shrubs and border land, roads, gardens, buildings etc.

Protecting against the wind, interrupting the path of water, they are a source of biodiversity. We need them in our daily lives and so do animals (owls, blue tits and even hedgehogs).

Let’s talk more about hedgehogs. Often appearing in our gardens, in  fields or on roads, their habitat is endangered and in danger of disappearing due to the incessant evolution of human life on earth. Indeed, the land and bushes they use for shelter are gradually being replaced by concrete. Hedgehogs are nomadic and solitary.

To help preserve them, you can plant hedges, bushes or even give them something to nest in ! They will thank you by helping you get rid of the slugs and beetles that are damaging your garden !

Seahorses and the foreshore

The foreshore is the part that, depending on the tides, is covered or not by water. Depending on the nature of the coastline, it can be rocky, sandy, muddy or a mixture of all of these.

It is because of this phenomenon that certain species, both plant and animal, find themselves trapped ! Indeed, this can be critical when the water level is low.

Among these animals, there is a species known to all but whose existence in the foreshore is unknown to many : the short-snouted seahorse and its cousins, the greater pipefish and the worm pipefish. Hidden in the sea grass beds, it is difficult to imagine that they can live on our coasts because we usually imagine them living in tropical waters ! To this day, there have been very few scientific studies carried out on this very well-known species! Many are concerned about this situation, as the seahorse is on the verge of extinction, etc.

In the Manche, the species has been protected since 2017. If you find a seahorse or any other of its above-mentioned cousins during your walks, it is important to inform the “harbour watch” programme: vigiedeshavres@associationavril.org or directly on the website, (a date, a place and a picture are recommended, so that they can spread the information to the scientists).

Common seals

A colony of common seals lives in Mont Saint Michel Bay. There are 600,000 of them in the world and barely 300 in France! About 75 in the Somme Bay, 60 in the Veys Bay (eastern foot of the Cotentin peninsula) and 40 in Mont-Saint-Michel Bay.

A cousin of the sea lion, it is a marine mammal, with hair, it uses lungs to breathe and lives the sea. The female has nipples for suckling. To feed itself, it eats four to five kilos of fish a day! (Average ration for an 80 kg female). Its teeth are similar to those of a dog. Its whiskers (called vibrissae) are used to capture fish thanks to their sensitivity to vibrations.

The downside : the common seal reproduces slowly, which is why it is a fragile species ! The females have only one gestation per year and have only one baby at each litter! Mating takes place in September and the actual start of gestation is on average in December. It lasts about 7 months.

When walking along the coastline, you may come across two types of stranding :

  • Strandings of adult animals that are dead or weakened by injury or disease;
  • Strandings of youngsters accidentally separated from their mothers either by an intervention (hikers, fighter planes…) or by natural causes (strong storm, strong tidal current…).

 

If these animals are not quickly taken care of by specialists, their chance of survival is low. If you find a stranding, you will need to quickly alert :

  • The fire brigade by dialling 18
  • The Marine Mammal Research Centre (CRMM) in La Rochelle on +33 (0)5 46 44 99 10

 

In any case, as seals are wild animals, which can defend themselves with their claws and bite, you should :

  • Keep a minimum distance of 300 m
  • Avoid crowds, noise and commotion
  • Keep your dog on a leash

Tide wrack and the Kentish plover

The tide wrack is all the debris accumulated by the sea and all the detritus deposited on the beach as the tide changes. This term is used in across the world. It also draws a line or band that represents the limit of the waves. It represents a food reservoir for all birds, especially the plovers, and contributes to the coastal ecosystem.

The Kentish plover is a coastal bird species. It can be distinguished from other adult plover species by its dark incomplete bands, either side of the breast, and its dark legs and bill.

In a few figures :

  • A 50% decrease in their number over 10 years (2010-2019) in the Manche department
  • The largest micro-colony is located between the sailing school and the tip of Agon-Coutainville, where there are about twenty couples
  • Females can lay up to four eggs per year
  • They can live up to twenty years
  • 5 months is the breeding period of the species between April and August.

 

How to protect the plover :

  • Do not pick up litter on beaches during the breeding season
  • Keep dogs on a leash
  • When you discover a nest, you can contact the GONm, which will inform you on the right steps to take: +33 (0)2 31 43 52 56