When you have a beautiful blue sky greeting you when you open the shutters on a bank holiday weekend, you know you're off to a great start ! To make the most of the glorious weather, we headed off to the Platier d'Oye, a nature reserve near Calais. (I told you about Oye Plage beach yesterday with its world war two bunkers - click through to find out more about what we discovered.)
I was surprised to see that for most of it, you walk around the path on a raised wooden walkway, which I suppose is a great way of avoiding trampling the grass, insects and flowers.
At several places around the trail, there are lookouts, allowing you to get up close to the wildlife to take photos. There are loads of different types of birds, lots of horses and also a herd of Highland cattle that you can take photos of.
Inside are benches and slat windows to look through or stick your cameras out of for some close-up shots.
We saw lots of people with impressive camera equipment and huge lenses but not much wildlife.
Some cows in the distance and lots of white birds flying around were as good as it got !
I'd had a check (of course !) and there were a couple of geocaches in the area, one of which was just outside the hut so we quickly found it and swapped over a few treasures.
We started following the trail around again. The boardwalk is a brilliant idea for people in wheelchairs or with buggies and it was certainly a lot easier on the legs than the more natural terrain.
I was impressed at the number of different types of wildlife habitat that we saw in such a small area : open grassland, boggy wetlands, dunes, little copses, ...
We wandered past this stone construction which is presumably part of the World War II defences.
It was such a clear day that I was expecting to see the English coast on the horizon, but I think we were too low. You get great views from the nearby cliffs of Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez (the Cape of White and Grey Nose!).
After wandering along the beach for a while, we headed back inland towards the swampy marshland part of the trail. We had a look for tadpoles but couldn't see any.
We investigated the wildlife lookout but this one had nothing to see at all - not even distant cows !
We started heading back towards the car park but my trusty GPS informed me that we were right next to another geocache.
The hint was "bird" and we soon discovered why !
It had a big washing powder box which looked very promising.
But sadly it was totally empty except for the logbook. We filled it up with some treasures for the next geocachers to find, because it always makes it more fun for the kids.