LPO | Hi Gwenaël, you just created your Refuge LPO in Morbihan: how did this idea come about?
Gwenaël LE CORRE: I do not remember how I first heard of LPO Refugees, but my nephew, a great bird watcher, and my older brother strongly encouraged me to turn the garden of the family home into a space of wild nature. I have been interested in ornithology for many years. As a teenager, I remember spending a whole day watching a Eurasian nut blanket bring a flask to shape a wooden hole its size. She built her nest methodically, I was fascinated. It was a revelation that subsequently made me pass a BAFA “Protection of Nature”.
LPO | How did you find out about LPO and more generally how did your passion for nature arise?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | I have known LPO for a very long time, so much so that I feel like I have known LPO forever! My connection to nature comes in part from my parents. We were often on vacation. But it was above all my five years at Éclaireuses-Éclaireurs de France, a mixed, secular and uniformless scout movement that anchored a strong bond with nature. The pleasure of being outside, living in the woods, seeing the plains, being close to the water or walking through the mountains has developed in me an enormous gratitude for nature. I felt the well-being it provides. I have done a lot of wild camping in my life to get closer to the fauna and flora by immersing myself in nature. Motorcycles and bicycles have always been my favorite means of transport because we evolve in the landscape, in the natural elements.
LPO | What was the project at the beginning of this Refuge LPO located in Brittany?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | I created my Refuge LPO quite recently in 2021! I have acted a lot for the protection of birds since my very young age and it was therefore obvious to me. The many different spaces, the situation in the garden ended up motivating me to formalize Refuge LPO. I have also been in contact with the LPO Brittany branch of Morbihan since then.
LPO | Can you briefly describe this natural terrain and / or the context in which the preservation of this space takes place?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | My Refuge LPO is located in our family home in Locoal-Mendon between Vannes and Lorient. The first neighbors are 400 meters away. This is a house that my parents had built in 1985 on a strip of 500 m2. From the beginning, they showed great passion for maintaining a varied and wild garden. Trees, shrubs, wild flowers all year round; the fauna has also acquired it and benefits greatly from it. Just over ten years ago, we had the opportunity to acquire the neighboring meadow. It is 500m2 if the farmer next door pulls three bales of hay each year. The terrain presents a wide range of biotopes. To the north, a wooded hedge borders the neighbor’s wooded garden. To the west is a small oak grove. To the south a small dense forest. Finally East-South-East, the maritime bog with an inland sea. Twice a day, tidal fluctuations act. It is a huge area of sand and mudflats surrounded by low salt-tolerant vegetation that can be discovered and is a delight for shorebirds and waterfowl such as shelducks, Eurasian spoonbills and various species of sandpipers.
LPO | What is the main protection action concerning this country? And how did it manage to preserve the small biotopes?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | The handling of the garden does not provide space for chemicals. We respect the Refuges Charter to the letter! Variety is a natural disease control. Of course, this abundant garden offers plenty of wild space. Some areas with lawns are left uncut in the form of islands. The fruits are not all collected. Outdoor storage is always done on pallets to create protective spaces and niches for rodents, hedgehogs, shellfish (martens, weasels), salamanders, etc. The land is not fenced, which facilitates the movement of deer and red foxes.
LPO | What are the main features that are beneficial to wild fauna and flora in this garden?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | My favorite layout is the birdbath. How a pleasure it is to see them shake off. From the little wren to the big wood pigeon, birds of all sizes are represented! Homemade feeders from my old farm have been dusted off to complete the seed feeder, a funnel feeder according to the model described in the famous La Hulotte journal. I installed the nest box from the Refuge set received during registration. My nephew even recycled a box for a half-open birdhouse. Bats benefit from several locations with two recent berths. A colony of a hundred pipistrels now occupies the siding on the floor of the house. It’s impressive!
LPO | Have you noticed if fruit trees, berries attract more birds and wildlife in general?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | Birds like sunflowers carry the fruit trees, but so do European goat hamsters, which take full advantage of uncollected apples and plums. The various hazel trees are rarely harvested. Oats from a local seed conservation association were planted in various places in the garden.
LPO | Do you have other beneficial developments for fauna and flora?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | The birdbath has pebbles and a piece of lump so insects can come and drink safely and save them from drowning. Small cups filled with water and small pebbles or pieces of polished glass (therefore not dangerous to wildlife) retrieved from the beach are placed around the potted plants to water the insects. The swimming pool and crib are directly visible from the living room: it is a sensible choice for bird watching. One of the benefits is located one meter from a window. Hidden behind the reflection of the windows we have a seat in the front row to observe! It is ideal for waking up passing friends to bird watching and the diversity of species. Many people do not know enough about the beauties of nature.
LPO | Can you share an anecdote related to this country?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | I have advice born of an anecdote. Place seed distributors more than four meters from the garage! I had installed one of the benefits one meter from the entrance to the garage adjacent to the house. The great chamois used to scatter four sunflower seeds for a sweep, the ground was covered with seeds. I moved this distributor after noticing while taking my shoes on that the rodents were collecting the seeds on the ground that were not collected by the finches and came to hide them in my high shoes. Nature is full of surprises
LPO | What would you say to conclude?
Gwenaël LE CORRE | Always consider that nature’s smallest spaces deserve our protection. Every square meter of nature is an essential living space for wild fauna and flora. We must wonder about it and cherish nature as much as possible. With us, the place has been protected, quiet and natural for a long time. Our Refuge LPO really aims to immortalize everything we have always wanted to protect. This is the whole point of our commitment to LPO. We are now encouraging our friends to create an LPO Refuge. It is well done against nature.
Interview: Nicolas Macaire LPO – published in l’OISEAU Magazine No. 146 (January-February-March 2022)