DORDOGNE BUTTERFLY BIRDWATCHING WILDLIFE DAY TRIPS AND TOURS

WILD

Dordogne

la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • Waders...

    Dordogne is not known for it's smaller wading birds. Being well inland, many waders migrate along coastal routes or overfly Dordogne. Only Common Sandpiper (which nests along upland streams) is frequently seen - mostly in autumn, winter and spring - on larger rivers and other water bodies. In the last 25 years a string of reservoirs have been contructed in the south of the department and adjacent Lot et Garonne - along the Dropt valley which drains into the River Lot. As a result more smaller wading birds (and other waterbirds) have been recorded including unusual species. Dunlin, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank for example are regular in small numbers and species such as Little Stint, Avocet and Black-winged Stilt also turn up. I've found Turnstone, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit - all very rare maritime waders here in Dordogne. A UK birder, John Beaumont, who regularly visits Dordogne in late summer took this nice photo of a juvenile Black-winged Stilt at the Escouroux reservoir near Eymet.

    John also found six Glossy Ibis (photo of three of them below) at the same site several days earlier - the second record for Dordogne. This just shows that with perserverance interesting waterbirds can be indeed found in Dordogne - John was visiting the reservoirs regularly during his two week stay often at the crack of dawn and re-visited them at different times of day!

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Tracks and signs

    When you walk through the countryside in Dordogne you will see plenty of Roe Deer slots, sometimes Badger, Fox, Wild Boar and marten prints as well as their scats. However on a recent walk with John Breeds ex-warden of Braunton Burrows NNR we found a few other items of interest. John noticed a cicada exuvia (pupal case) on the track - as I was looking for butterflies of course! They have an interesting lifecycle spending several years underground as larvae. The cicada song is very much the sound of high summer here and most notably in the Mediterranean and they require a summer temperature of 25°C or so before they start singing. First song is heard around early June in these parts.

    A little further on we came across several ant-lion nests like mini craters in the dry sandy soil. Normally the larva will be waiting below for ants or other small insects to fall into their trap providing them with a regular food supply. This one had a solitary bee visitor which we saw it poking it's head out of the hole several times! Not quite sure what it was up to. The adults are rather like giant damselflies (but with short antennae) and will also hold their wings out like a dragonfly. They sometimes fly into houses on a summer evening attracted by the lights. In Dordogne there are several species including one where the larva does not construct pit traps but lives in the soil and leaf litter like the cicada (and ascalaphid or owlfly) larva.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • A hotel visitor...

    Amanda at The Barrage Hotel in Mauzac (our hostess at the hotel for our wildlife holidays) sent a text the other day with a photo of a moth to identify. Unfortunately my phone doesn't do photos but eventually I saw it via Audrey's phone...and by then Amanda had worked out what it was: a Convolvulous Hawk-moth. A large sleek grey jet-shaped moth with a smart pink and black hooped body. It's a regular migrant each year from Africa and some reach UK. I liked the photo which Amanda sent me. She's very creative and imaginative with her cooking at Le Barrage...but could this really be a new starter on the menu?!

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Ebro Delta news !

    Our summer holidays often include a few weeks down in Spain by the Ebro Delta where Audrey's parents have a holiday house. There is always interesting wildlife about. I managed a few trips out and amassed 127 bird species at three sites: Lerida Plains, Sierra Cardo mountains and the Ebro Delta coastal belt. Best birds for me were Marsh Sandpiper and Lesser Grey Shrike. I must say that a day out with Steve West of "Birding in Spain", the English bird guide at Lerida, had something to do with my total species number and most of the rarer birds! The Ebro is always productive bird-wise with so much varied wetland habitat, even the rice fields have their herons, egrets, stilts and terns! We visited an excellent new visitor centre "Mon Natura Delta de l'Ebre" near the Tancada saltmarshes and lagoons on the south side of the river. There was a Night Heron on the wire to greet us. With European "Life" money they has doen great things restoring habitats and the old buildings.

    Whilst walking around the site and in particular looking for the rare endemic Iberian Tooth Carp (the subject of a conservation scheme here) in the saline pools, we saw many large bluish crabs which I did not recognise. After a bit of resereach on the web we found out that they were the Atlantic Blue Crab from the western shores of the Atlantic. An invasive species first noted in the early 20th century and now very common in many parts of the Mediterranean. Great for eating but perhaps not so good for the ecosystem. It has been the subject of a recent major study.

    Just before leaving for home I found this butterfly fluttering around the veranda windows. At first glance I thought it was a Common Gatekeeper as there were no strong markings. However the rather greyish-brown mottled hindwing underside with no spots show it to be a Southern Gatekeeper. This is a species restricted to the Mediterranean. The upperwings are very like a Common Gatekeeper.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Dragons and Damsels

    We recently went to one of the popular local leisure lakes at St Méard de Gurçon run by the Conseil General (equivalent to a County Council in UK). It was mainly to meet up with Audrey's sister and to take the kids swimming. It's set up like a mini coastal beach resort with all facilities...including a sandy beach! Of course I got a bit bored on the beach and so went for a walk around the lake which took about 20-30 minutes. I was rather surprised to see so many Violet Dropwing dragonflies all around the lake - I must have seen between ten and twenty individuals. This species is spreading northwards in SW France. It's a common species in tropical Africa, I remember seeing strange purple dragonflies in Mauritius but never discovered what they were. The species was first recorded in Europe in Spain in the 1970s.

    Another common dragonfly - in fact a damselfly - around the lake was the Blue-eye (or Goblet-marked Damselfly). I see it regularly by the River Dordogne but many still waters too. The goblet mark is on top of the first two segments of the abdomen just below the thorax. The shape of the mark in this location is a good way to separate several of the blue damselflies. The Blue-eye also has characteristic black spear shaped marks pointing towards the head along the abdomen. Other species have blue eyes.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Grizzled Skippers

    A couple of grizzled skippers on an animal scat showing the typical bold and heavy angular white markings on the underside. I put the species name without first word capitals as this may be one of two species: Pyrgus malvae (found in UK) or Pyrgus malvoides (southern European only). Dordogne is on the no-man's land boundary between the two species. I wouldn't want to say which these one's are without checking the genitalia. And as for the scat(s) I'll leave you to guess!

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Jay

    A great looking bird and very common in Dordogne. Doesn't get the same bad press as the Magpie but in certain areas and at certain times is probably a significant predator of young small animals and birds. I was trying out my new Canon compact camera (40x optical focus) at home and was quite pleased with the result.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • Woodland Grayling

    The big grayling butterflies are still flying and I saw several whilst out with a friend near Beaumont. This one appears rather dark as it flies around and they are often quite inquisitive of humans and may settle on you for salt-sweat. This one is a Woodland Grayling, the similar-sized Great Banded Grayling has much brighter while bands on the upper wings. The woodland Grayling is also much darker below. When they settle like this on an oak tree trunk they are pretty well camouflaged.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • White Featherleg

    When we moved into temporary rental accomodation in Bergerac I didn't expect too much wildlife-wise but I have been pleasantly surprised. Most recently we have had an "invasion" of White Featherleg damselflies which seem to be everywhere in the long grass. An ivory white damselfly with very broad fore-leg tibia (the "feather-in-the-leg"). It is endemic to Iberia and SW France. This species isn't found in UK, but maybe soon with climate change...

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • A nice collection of Faux birds

    I recently took a Swiss group out on Faux Plateau and despite hot sunny weather we did OK bird-wise. One of the party Martin Schoenberger, a photographer, took these photos below. In order of appearance: Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike (female), Rock Sparrow and Stonechat. Thanks Martin!

    Read more...

    0 comments

Photo crop (passport)

Web feed

David

Welcome to my Dordogne Wildlife Diary

In it you will find regular wildlife sightings in the département of Dordogne, notably of birds and butterflies in southern Dordogne where I live. In adddition there will be occasional references to neighbouring départements such as Lot et Garonne, Gironde, the Lot and places further afield. Check out the Faune-Aquitaine website for the latest wildlife sightings in Dordogne and Aquitaine.

Where possible I will add photographs to illustrate the entry. Many thanks to Margaret Mills (family photo) and Denis Cauchoix (birdwatcher photo).

I hope that you enjoy my diary and look forward to your comments.

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.


Get Flash Player