Mourning Doves

Among the dozen or so varieties of birds we see every day in Guadeloupe, there are three kinds of doves: mourning doves, ring-neck doves, and turtle doves. The mourning doves are constant companions – they hang out on the terrace or by the pool, chasing away the ring-necks whenever possible; they perch on the roof, peck for seeds, and of course coo constantly.

Mourning dove and ring-neck dove

And they make a lot of babies. I mean, a lot! I read that they have up to six pairs a year, but I think it’s more. The mama and papa take turns sitting on the eggs and with the babies for a couple of weeks, then there are a few days of feeding and encouraging them to fly, then it seems like mere days later mama and papa are back in their birdhouse.

Mourning doves

I have a cute story about how that birdhouse came to be. For a while, we had the mating pair scoping out locations in our house – on top shelves, above windows, and I jokingly provided commentary to my husband, “You see darling, this one has a lovely view but the neighbors are a bit noisy” kind of thing. In any case, we allowed them to build a nest inside once when the house was still under construction. Mourning dove nests are very flimsy, just a few twigs piled together, and the mess was not to be believed. So my husband built them a little house.

Mourning dove family

He put it in our giant tamarind and they found it almost immediately, but they didn’t seem to like it. I suggested that was because it was facing away from the sea so he turned it, and they nested there once but then after that they started location scouting again. Thinking maybe this was due to it being to open to the elements, particularly rain, he moved it to under the eave, and they seem to love it there, returning time and time again to lay new eggs. The babies grow from tiny to adult sized unbelievably quickly, so the house gets a bit cramped toward the end, so he added a strip of rebar to serve as a perch and they seem pretty happy with that as well.

Here’s a video of feeding time, which strikes me as somewhat violent, but I guess Mother Nature knows best.

Green Heron, Blackbirds in Guadeloupe

We are visited by tons of birds every day: large numbers of birds and many different species. While we see blackbirds and at least two different kinds of doves every day, this green heron is only an occasional visitor, so I feel lucky to have gotten him on video, however briefly.

Rare sighting of a beautiful green heron, plus lots of blackbirds, including a youngish one squawking constantly to be fed.

An Iguana Tail Tale

Iguana in a flowering tamarind treeThis is the story of an iguana in Guadeloupe. Iguanas come and go on our property – some we recognize for a while then never see again, while others are anonymous creatures that we never get to know. Sometimes they wander in our front door – and then usually get freaked out when they see us and hide in ridiculously small gaps behind appliances and furniture for a day or more, then sneak out when the coast is clear. Other times we barely spot them racing across the driveway or hanging out on the periphery. Generally speaking, they are extremely shy (though there are exceptions). Despite their sometimes fearful appearance, iguanas would much rather take flight than fight. Continue reading

Why Guadeloupe?

Waterfall near Souffrière volcano

Waterfall near Souffrière volcano

People often ask why my husband and I decided to move permanently to Guadeloupe – and by permanently, I mean we are actually buying a piece of property to build a home and a small business. Up until now, we have always rented. Though we’ve lived two years or more in a few places – Morocco, France, Pennsylvania – we always knew that they were temporary homes. This time, we plan to stay. So, why Guadeloupe?

There are several reasons, and perhaps the most important is also the most banal: we like the weather. I am très frileuse, as the French put it: very intolerant of cold. We would have liked to stay in France, but after 5 years, I realized it was just too cold. Hyères has the Mistral, which can make even warm days chilly, so after a lot of research we moved to the warmest place dans l’Hexagone: Menton, whose microclimate and protective mountains result in moderate winters. Even so, I was still cold and unhappy for several months of the year, so we had to look further afield. Continue reading

6 corners of the Hexagon: Atlantic Coast

Some of the most interesting places on France’s Atlantic coast are quite remote.

Quiberon France
Quiberon © LKL

We spent two nights on the presqu’île of Quiberon, in southern Bretagne. The beaches are lovely, and the town of Quiberon is kind of cute, but the others on the peninsula are nothing special.

La Flotte France
La Flotte, Ile de Ré © LKL

In contrast, Île de Ré, in Poitou-Charentes, is home to numerous cute towns (including two Most Beautiful Villages). We spent three nights in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, and enjoyed talking to our hosts about the boom in housing and tourism that has occurred there since the car ferry was replaced by a toll bridge in 1988. Fortunately, there aren’t as nearly as many houses as there could be, as a lot of the land is covered in grapevines; as for the wine, however, c’est pas terrible.

Arcachon France
Arcachon © LKL

In Aquitaine, the small town of Soulac-sur-mer is filled with lovely, unique villas, as are a few streets in the much larger Arcachon. They both also have beautiful beaches and I can easily imagine living in either town for a year or two. A short drive from Arcachon is the Dune du Pilat – at 107 meters, it’s the largest sand dune in Europe. The climb up can be a bit difficult, but the view from the top is extraordinary.

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About 6 corners of the Hexagon

6 corners of the Hexagon: Third corner!

The exact location of the third corner isn’t obvious like the others. The westernmost point of France is l’île d’Ouessant, but we wanted to stick to the continent for the purposes of our hexagon. The westernmost point of continental France is Pointe de Corsen, which is considered the theoretical divider between the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. (Source: Pointe de Corsen, Terres celtes) In looking at a map of France, however, this point doesn’t exactly stand out. We feel that the part of Finisterre that pokes out just north and south of the Crozon peninsula is more corner-like, so we decided that those points together constitute the third corner.

Third corner of France part AThe point to the north is Kermorvan, a small cape with a lighthouse near the town of Le Conquet, from which the ferries to île d’Ouessant leave. It was incredibly windy the day we visited, and one of our umbrellas, already fragile from Bretagne’s infamous weather, more or less self-destructed, leaving behind a naked skeleton with the ripped waterproof material flapping in the wind. It was a memorable visit.

Third corner of the Hexagon part BOur second contender to the third corner crown was la Pointe du Raz, which turned out to be an internationally renowned, protected site, and was far more popular among hikers and picnickers than we’d expected.

Our route to the third cornerHere’s our map from the second corner to the third, complete with detours to Paris and Loire Valley. Remember that pink indicates our route as well as towns we actually walked around and/or ate in. Blue highlights where we stayed. You can click the map to see a much bigger version.

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About 6 corners of the Hexagon

6 corners of the Hexagon: Bretagne

We only spent a few days in Bretagne, and it rained most of the time; nevertheless, the entire coast is breathtaking and I look forward to returning for a longer stay.

Ile Rouzic
Île Rouzic © LKL

In Perros-Guirrec, we took a boat ride around the Archipel des Sept-Îles nature preserve, during which we admired thousands of breeding pairs of Northern Gannet seabirds on Île Rouzic, and then cruised along the famous Côte de Granit rose. It was cold and rainy; I can only imagine how much more beautiful the pink granite is when the weather is nice.

Côte de granit rose en Bretagne
Côte de granit rose © LKL

Pointe de Dinan en Crozon
Pointe de Dinan © LKL

Next we spent two days in Morgat, a small town on the Crozon peninsula in Finistère. This remote area is incredibly beautiful and surprisingly colorful; during our visit in late August, nearby Pointe de Dinan was covered in purple heather and other vegetation. We also took a cruise of the Grottes marines de Morgat, the “painted” caves accessible only by sea.

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About 6 corners of the Hexagon

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