DORDOGNE BUTTERFLY BIRDWATCHING WILDLIFE DAY TRIPS AND TOURS

WILD

Dordogne

la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • 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...

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  • 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!

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  • Reviews of our recently published Dordogne Crossbill Guide

    I've just received today the first two reviews of our new Dordogne wildlife guide book from English language newspapers in France: "The Connexion" and "The Bugle" (page 4). Both favourable I'm pleased to say. For readable versions of the reviews please click on the underlined newspaper names above.

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  • Emperors

    In Dordogne we have two species of Purple Emperor. By far the most common is the Lesser Purple Emperor which tends to be smaller, a brighter purple and the underside is less contrasty with a light brown wash especially on the hindwing. In SW France the variety "clytie" is common and this has an orange fringe to the upper wings and the white lines are also slightly orange. It is found almost anywhere in the countryside, especially near the emperor caterpillar foodplants, poplars and willows, in the valleys.

    By contrast the Purple Emperor is scarce and found in scattered colonies in the larger forested areas of Dordogne. It is a more northery species. They seem to stay higher in the trees unless tempted down by tree sap, rotten fruit or animal scats on the ground. My French friend and I have been out surveying for Woodland Brown recently and he captured these beautiful images of a freshly emerged female in the Forêt de Barade near Périgueux last week.

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  • Southern Small White

    We are always checking the "cabbage whites" on the dry stony grasslands at places like Condat and Saint Pompon for the rare Southern Small White. Thanks to my friends Dudley and Jean Cheesman who photographed this specimen we recorded one at Saint Pompon. I saw the butterfly but unfortunately for me it wouldn't settle! The size, shape and darkness of the markings help to identify it, together with an even dusting of grey cells over the pale yellow hindwing underside. With one spot on the forewing it's a male.

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  • Woodchat Shrike

    Although Red-backed Shrikes can still be found on rough scrubby land in much of Dordogne, their cousin the Woodchat Shrike is now very scarce. We generally find a pair or so each summer in the south of the department and the Plateau de Faux is usually the best bet. This male was successfully hunting large insects from a wire near Faux last week. Thanks to Henry Labram for the photo.

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  • Collapsed lavoir...and Wild Boar

    This spring we've been having a lot of stormy weather and rain - like most of the rest of Western Europe - and it finally got the better of the local lavoir shelter at Liorac. Lavoirs were communal washing places in the old days. I saw this view of it by the roadside on the way to Saint Félix for my regular Tuesday bird watching trip a week or so ago.

    Another unfortunate sighting on route that day was a very large dead Wild Boar upside down in a roadside ditch (which had presumably been hit by a car). Two council workers stood beside it, presumably charged with the job of removing it, with a rather small van. They obviously suceeded as it had gone by the time I returned home!

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  • Field Gladiolus

    Although it's still orchid time here in Dordogne, there are many other interesting plants to go in search of. One appeared almost on my front door step the other day. It's flowering just across the road from our driveway on a grassy roadside bank (that's our white VW minibus in the background!). The plant in question is the Field Gladiolus, a rather more luxuriant version of the Wild Gladiolus I've seen at various places on Faux Plateau at the edge of arable fields, which also has its flowers all facing in the same direction. The other species in Dordogne is the Italian Gladiolus but in that species the flowers point in various directions.

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  • Asp Viper

    This is the southern counterpart of the Common Adder in the UK. They are never easy to see (as this photo proves). However carefully checking sunny banks (especially with old metal buckets!) at this time of year, especially in the morning can sometimes be successful. It is the only poisonous species of seven found in Dordogne. This was a very attractive individual with a bit of a look of a rattlesnake about it.

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  • White Asphodel

    White Asphodel is a striking tall robust and beautiful flower with a thick stem and strappy leaves, emanating from tuber-like roots. Flowering early (in April and early May) they are missed by many summer tourists here which is a shame. The species is normally found in the mountains of central Europe but here grow in the lowlands on sandy soil. Sometimes they appear amongst limestone flora where a narrow sandy seam occurs, making their appearance even more dramatic and unexpected.

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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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