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

  • Hoopoes

    There seems to have been rather a lot of Hoopoes around recently - I guess with all the young leaving nests and before migrating south. On the first three days of the recent Travelling Naturalist wildlife holiday we saw at least one each day including this one in Saint Marcel du Périgord.

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  • Purple Emperor

    In Dordogne the Lesser Purple Emperor is quite a common butterfly at the right time of year and in the right habitat. Much rarer however is the Purple Emperor (also found in UK) which has a rather more northerly distribution. Recently whilst driving along a forest track at Bessède with a group we disturbed a large 'purple emperor' which didn't look quite right for a Lesser. I stopped the minibus and managed to get a couple of record shots...to confirm it was indeed a Purple Emperor - and my first in Dordogne. The white tooth mark on the lower wing emerging from the white line (exterior side) is charcteristic of the species. As you can see it had rather damaged lower wings.

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  • another helleborine...

    Back in May I was lucky enough to see this rare orchid on our property for the first time. It is a Small-leaved Helleborine. It doesn't look as glamorous as some orchids but it has an invisible charm that many orchids lack: a strong aroma - in this species, of vanilla.

    As usual with new orchid species here it was found by a guest staying in the gite. we were walking in a group and I walked straight passed it waffling about some bird song or other no doubt. Lucky for me that I have observant visitors here at Cabant!

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  • Egrets nesting at Mauzac!

    Well - it's finally happened. Egrets are nesting at Mauzac. Dordogne seemed to have been by-passed by egrets as various species have colonised UK. But after years of just a Grey Heron colony on the wooded island below the dam, there are currently Cattle Egrets with 6 occupied nests (and two unoccupied) plus a pair of Little Egrets with near-fledged young. There must be twenty or thirty Little Egrets about, many with breeding plumes. maybe next year the colony will increase. There is also a Great White Egret present in breeding plumage. Other herons and egrets maybe attracted to the colony site in future such as Night Heron and even perhaps Squacco Heron. Shown below is a Little Egret below the dam waterfall.

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  • Greater White-toothed Shrew deceased

    On a recent wildlife holiday I was running we came across this poor dead shrew on a quarry road. From the size and reddish/grey colour of the back grading into off-white below it looked like a Greater White-toothed Shrew. The scattered 'whiskers' along the tail are characteristic of the white-toothed shrews though difficult to see on the photo. It's not often you see these tiny mammals - unless predated like this one.

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  • Giant Peacock moth

    We went on a short break to Roussillon recently camping on the Med coast and found this fabulous moth at a motorway service station. Joseph saw it first and I went back to photograph it. Similar looking to the Emperor moth in UK it is much larger - and like the Emperor related to the exotic silk moths. Europe's largest moth it can look like a small bat when it flies. Pretty scary with those big 'eyes' to deter predators...

    Next thing Joseph found a Poplar Hawk-moth at the campsite!

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  • 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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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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