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These funny birds that have taken up residence on Chartres Cathedral and everywhere in Eure-et-Loir

At 76 years old, Michel Brugière nourishes an all-consuming passion for photography and especially ornithology, a passion he likes to share in exhibitions and conferences. (©Laurent Rebours)

In his house in Hips (Eure-et-Loir), Michel Brugiere set up his lair as an amateur photographer – very shrewd! -. A space dedicated to his devouring passion which is displayed on the walls in large format, with a desk where a computer sits enthroned under the weight of the tens of thousands of photographic shots, the fruit of his innumerable ornithological outings.

Hundreds of files classify the birds of his image hunts, by species, and we can say that he now has quite a panel of French specimens! But, in his hunts for the rare bird, he admits falling more and more frequently on rather unusual species in our regions, climate deregulation certainly having an effect… all the way to Chartres Cathedral!

DIY wooden boxes

Yellow wagtail becoming increasingly rare with the fight against insects in oilseed rape
Yellow wagtail becoming increasingly rare with the fight against insects in oilseed rape (©Michel Brugière)

Photography, Michel Brugière delves into his memory to know exactly when he fell into it. To tell the truth, as far as he can remember, he has always had a camera in his hands and, at 76, he never goes out without his case.

He arrived in Yvelines in 1975 as firefighter professional at Rambouillet where he spent his entire career after training as blacksmith then worked as a welder for seven years in a nuclear power plant.

It was on retirement that he moved to Eure-et-Loir and settled with his wife, a nurse by profession.

In the family farm of his childhood in Touraine, he caught the photo virus from a neighbor friend who introduced him to the basics of capturing images. So he made his first rooms in tinkering with wooden boxes “but I admit that I don’t really know if I saw the pictures! »

Relaxation in the forest

A magnificent Bluethroat, aptly named!
A magnificent Bluethroat, aptly named! (©Michel Brugière)

Whether in his spare time or in his professional life, photography is a permanent feature of his life.

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The stress of his vocation as a firefighter, he evacuates it by leaving to relax in the forest and, he who was already in love with animal life becomes a true bird lover.

This does not prevent him at the same time from capturing moments of daily life for events, ceremonies, etc… but he never experiences as much pleasure as when setting off on an ornithological quest.

The wooden box is a long way off, he gradually equipped his Canon with a 300mm telephoto lens, then a 400mm and more recently a 150-600mm zoom, camouflaged as it should be and with which he found his happiness .

It is only in the overweight of the animal that it ticks a little especially when it goes hunting black grouse in the Val-Thorens massif!

The passion to transmit and exchange

The equally aptly named grosbeak kernel breaker
The equally aptly named grosbeak kernel breaker (©Michel Brugière)

Michel Brugière is inexhaustible when launched into his chosen field. He likes to share his experiences, both in shooting and in ornithology, of which he has become an expert, while always remaining humble in the face of these riches of nature.

Which leads him to roam the exhibitionsto offer conferencesmeetings like recently at the invitation of the Chartres Horizon Photo club.

He is also a member of the House of Nature in Morancez where he created the photo library of the Eure-et-Loir Nature association, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in September 2022. For the occasion, he beats the reminder of wildlife photographers in the region.

And trips all over France

A European bee-eater in full flight
A European bee-eater in full flight (©Michel Brugière)

Today, Michel travels tirelessly throughout Eure-et-Loir, the neighboring departments but also the Bay of the Seine where he recently unearthed whisker batters in the reedbeds near the Pont de Normandie, the Camargue, Aquitaine, Vendée…

There are few regions that have escaped his quest for birds, moreover he is returning to Brittany in the coming days to try to approach puffin.

Last weekend I went on a report to look for the cuckoo clocks of Eure-et-Loir. I didn’t move for two days to manage to immortalize it and obviously, when you come back from these two days with thousands of files in Raw, it weighs very heavy!

Michel Brugierewildlife photographer

When strange birds point their beaks in our regions

In the reedbeds at the foot of the Normandy bridge he captured these moments with the mustache breadcrumbs
In the reedbeds at the foot of the Normandy bridge he captured these moments with the mustache breadcrumbs (©Michel Brugière)

His “Holy Grail”, to date, would be to take images of the european roller which is particularly rare and is very discreet.

But to tell the truth many other species fascinate him, as much by their beauty as their rarity, their actions. In his wanderings he leaves with his wife but she often slips away for other activities, leaving him to hunt him down.

Sometimes it is with his son Philippe that he goes hunting, also totally converted since his earliest childhood. And even more bitten because the latter is equipped with a full hide while his father favors home-made camouflage!

With several decades of observation to his credit, Michel can only be a keen observer of changes in the environment and the resulting curiosities.

I can only see great regressions in bird populations, with the excessive treatment of nature we have destroyed the insects and therefore the food of the birds. The yellow wagtail on the rapeseed is rare now, so are the robins…

Michel Brugiere

And then there are these partial migrants – those who go from the Center to the South or from the North towards the Center – who are in places that they usually never occupied to nest.

The superb echelette tichodrome which has abandoned the mountain ranges to prefer the cathedral of Chartres!
The superb echelette tichodrome which has abandoned the mountain ranges to prefer the cathedral of Chartres! (©Michel Brugière)

Michel cites a rather unusual example with the magnificent echelon tichodrome who now stands out by coming to spend the winter at Chartres Cathedral! Funny place for a bird that we usually find in the mountains.

This seems to be the lot in France of more and more buildings of this type which offer the particularity of hosting clouds of insects which are very welcome for these species.

The photographer adds to these curiosities the european bee-eaters who abandoned their Camargue and the South to land in Eure-et-Loir as far as Brittany, Germany, England. “They were in Africa before anyway.”

Glossy ibis has been observed in our region and in Yvelines.
Glossy ibis has been observed in our region and in the Yvelines while it is usually in its habitat in Africa, Australia or tropical America. (©Michel Brugière)

There is also theglossy ibis all black which was seen in the Yvelines, the hairy crabeater who left the South-East for the ponds of Brenne or Eure-et-Loir, the mirror blue throat seen in Yvelines or Vendée while its base is in Spain or Africa…

But sometimes it’s with less rare species that the stories are just as original as with this Hello, migrant in April who sings to call females, locates a nest, settles there, releases an egg and replaces it with that of its female.

The bird that owns the nest is fooled, incubates the eggs, but when it hatches, the cuckoo is fed and grows until it finally takes flight. Except that this young bird, isolated, without parents, manages to go to Africa where they are. “It’s a real curiosity of nature, it’s fascinating”.

Just like these warblersinsectivores, which, during their migratory journey, are satisfied with the pollen of flowers.

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