Dordogne Butterfly Birdwatching

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Wild-Dordogne-Logo_2.5cm_green
Wild-Dordogne-Logo_2.5cm_green

Wildlife Guiding and La Cabane du Pommier

la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • late orchids in Dordogne

    We are getting late in the season for orchids here in Dordogne but my friend Dutch botanist Corine Oosterlee showed me some species still flowering on a recent local fieldtrip. Red Helleborines were still in full bloom in her 'garden' a few days back. This is a species only found on a few sites in the UK.

    Elsewhere we found Pyramidal, Greater and Lesser Butterfly and Fragrant Orchids as well as Broad-leaved and Mueller's Helleborines. Not forgetting the leaves of a Twayblade! So not a bad collection.

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  • not what we want to see...

    I was up birding at Faux Plateau recently and found this for sale sign up for half a hectare of prime limestone grassland and scrub full of special fauna and flora including Nightingale, Whitethroat, Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Melodious Warbler, Linnet, Fan-tailed Warbler, Italian Gladiolus and various orchids etc. Strange that this piece of land should have planning permission for housing.

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  • Duke of Burgundy

    Visited Saint Pompon last week with a regular 'butterflier' and had some time to try out a new camera. Another compact for me - this time a Canon Power-shot SX720HS. I've gradually 'downgraded' from SLR to Bridge to Compact. For what I photograph I just need a decent point-and-shoot and this has a good 40x zoom and 20 megapixels. By mid-morning it had warmed up and butterflies started to take to the wing. This Duke of Burgundy was in a favourite hollow which always draws many species from the surrounding habitat. It's warm, sheltered and nectar-rich hence the popularity. 31 species for the day at a few local sites around Saint Pompon was quite pleasing for mid-May. The underwing pattern is the most attractive feature of the Duke of Burgundy. I was pleased how the camera coped for a first try. Hopefully I'll get better!

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  • a snake skin and a blackbird - courtesy of the kids!

    A few days ago Joseph our nine year old son brought me a small snake skin (or so I first thought) which he'd found in the dry stones by the bread oven. With my glasses on I realised it was a dessicated snake (including skin!). It looked like it had had its head nipped off by a predator - maybe a Jay - and there was still a bit of colour and marking to suggest it was probably a young Grass Snake. You could see the backbone clearly though breaks in the skin and it smelt rotten. It had probably died a few weeks back.

    Hannah our two and a half year old is showing more interest in nature than Joseph did at her age. Yesterday evening there was a Blackbird singing strongly from the top of a big oak by the meadow. I picked here up to show her - opening the window to hear the song. When I put here down she went straight to where I store my telescope in the corner of the lounge imploring me to set it up to show her the bird properly! She's rather fond of my mini binoculars too which are great for little hands though she prefers (like all kids) to look through them backwards!

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  • Bean Goose

    Big surprise at the reservoir near Issigeac yesterday - a Bean Goose! We had just finished lunch in the village and as usual drove to the reservoir for a stroll to look at the orchids and butterflies - though the weather was changeable. As we scanned the lake we were amazed to see a goose by the dam on the far side. I initially I thought of Pink-footed Goose until I saw the give-away orange legs which confirmed Bean Goose. This was the third record for Dordogne and the first in 18 years!

    Just afterwards as we left the site a beautiful male Hen Harrier flew low along the dam wall giving us great views. A nice way to end the day.

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  • Black Kites

    Plenty of Black Kites in the valley now and they are busy nesting - as by July they will start drifting away southwards again. This one was on a tree by the River Dordogne at Trémolat on a foggy morning a few weeks back when birds were reluctant to fly until these first rays of sun. The 14x zoom on my little Nikon compact camera was only just enough to get a reasonable snap - and you can certainly see that it is not black in colour. It has various shades of brown from tawny on the head to nearly black on the flight feathers. In sunshine the upperside of the wing near the body appears golden - maybe it should be the 'Golden-shouldered Kite' ?

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  • Nest building

    The tits like to come to our blue mat by the front door to collect nesting material: Great, Blue and Marsh (see Blue and Marsh Tits below). This has been going on for a few weeks now and many other resident birds are now incubating eggs like the Nuthatches in the nest box by the parking area. A neighbour told me he has just seen his first Blackbird fledgling. Today I startled a pair of Hoopoe on the gite roof and soon afterwards a Golden Oriole called from the wood at the bottom of the meadow - so they will be nesting soon.

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  • New Book - Crossbill Guides: Dordogne, France

    I am currently writing a wildlife guide to Dordogne with local French naturalist Frank Jouandoudet. It has become a bit of an opus - the idea for the project was born nearly five years ago! It will be around 225 pages with lots of photos and fact boxes set amongst the main chapters dealing with: landscape, species, routes (to see the wildlife) and advice to visitors. It is due out in spring 2018.

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  • cowslips and cuckoo flowers at the cross

    As you rise up the hill onto the Cabant ridge here, there is a metal religious cross on a rather smart stone plinth - the sort of thing you see everywhere in rural France. There is a story that during the last war Maurice Chavalier restored it. His friends - Parisian dancers - lived down the lane in the manor house and it was a regular place for parties amongst theatricals and their friends. Maybe he did it as a favour? Not quite so exotic today - a Franco-Chienese couple own the manor (they live in Peking) and visit with the children once a year during the summer holidays. At least the old buildings are being maintained!

    In spring the cowslips and cuckoo flowers brighten up the old cross - I bet it could tell some stories...

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  • Red Squirrel at Issigeac

    On a recent 'Travelling Naturalist' wildlife holiday two of the clients Pete Marshall and Gen Carpenter found this Red Squirrel sun-bathing in a tree as we returned to the van after lunch in Issigeac. At first the animal was sprawled out and flattened head pointing downwards on a 45° branch to take full advantage of the sun's rays but by the time I got this photo it had moved to a more normal position!

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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.

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