Any map of the area around Rosnay in France shows an amazing number of lakes. Some are quite small, while others are very extensive. This landscape feature puzzled us when we were doing our tour planning and we decided that a ride through the area to have a look was in order.
I rather suspected (hoped?) that the lakes were part of a large native wetland environment and we were going to be treated to a number of sightings of native fauna and flora.
I have actually written about this place in a previous post (Night riding in the inky dark) , however, I did not include many photos of the lakes or any information on the the Brenne Nature Park.
What we found was something quite different to what I imagined, and yet it still lived up to what I had expected (in many respects). The lakes area is certainly a very big wetland environment, but the vegetation and fauna were nothing like I had envisaged.
This nature reserve is huge – it covers 166 000 hectares (640 square miles). There are over 2ooo lakes, all of which are man made.
I am not sure why they were constructed, only that it happened a very long time ago and all are now part of a naturalised habitat. The largest lake is the Mer Rouge (Red Sea) which covers 160 hectares.
Unlike many of the parks I am familiar with, this one is crossed by many roads and has people living throughout the area. This makes many of the lakes readily accessible to nature lovers and the place is a mecca for those who enjoy wildlife.
Plants and animals both thrive in the ideal conditions and more than 2300 animal species co-exist with 1200 different species of plants.
I must confess that I did not spend a great deal of time looking at the varieties of plants and/or birds because it did not strike me at the time that there were many to observe. However, this may have been because our timing was wrong (it was Autumn).
Whatever the cause, it was remarkably quiet on the roads – no traffic and few people anywhere! Bicycle rider’s version of heaven!
Ironically, the lakes are also a mecca for duck hunters. Naturalists and hunters live in an uneasy peace, each enjoying their own activities, but aware that they are in constant virtual conflict.
Hunting huts abound around the lakes, but most were mostly deserted while we were there. I am not familiar with the hunting laws in France, except I do know they are quite strict. So perhaps we were there out of hunting season and this is why it was so quiet.
We were puzzled by the cleared areas and small mounds along some of the roads, but apparently this makes game easier to see (hunters stand on the mound and the hapless animals get caught as they cross the open zone).
Whatever the reason for the solitude, I did enjoy the easy riding and the spectacular views of the lakes.