Dordogne Butterfly Birdwatching

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Wildlife Guiding and La Cabane du Pommier

la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • House Sale and new book

    After two years on the market, our property at Cabant appears to be finally sold. We are moving near to Bergerac for school and work reasons. We will be in rented accomodation from December whilst we search for a suitable replacement for Cabant. We hope to find a property ideally just east of Bergerac with a house and (smaller) gite and some semi-wild terrain. It's hard to move from such a beautiful place as Cabant especially after all the time, effort, money...and love we put into restoring the place - with much help from family and friends. However another adventure beckons now...and at least we know that Cabant should still be standing in another couple of hundred years time (which will double its age).

    I will continue wildlife guiding locally for private individuals and groups plus Travelling Naturalist and Holiday Property Bond at Constant.

    My Crossbill Wildlife Guide to Dordogne (with Frank Jouandoudet) should be in the bookshops by next summer.

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  • Rosy Grizzled Skipper ?

    DELAYED PUBLICATION AS I WAS WAITING FOR EXPERTS OPINION ON THIS BUTTERFLY ID

    If we are correct with the identification of the butterfly below, this is a new species for me. The Rosy Grizzled Skipper is extremely rare this far north but there are some old records, the most recent being from 1992 in northern Dordogne. The key features on the hindwing underside are an 'anvil' shaped white spot in the middle and dark edging to some of the white spots. It was found with friends Dudley and Jean Cheesman at one of our favourite butterfly hunting grounds at Saint Pompon. With this species we were one short of 30 species in an hour and a half. Not bad for the 21 September!

    PS. Sadly the experts decided it was not a Rosy Grizzled Skipper - just a rather aberrant Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper. Oh well, I'll just keep searching...

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  • Cicadi orni

    I've never managed to get a decent photo of a cicada - until the recent holiday in Spain. This insect was high up the El Ports mountains singing away on a pine tree in very warm sunny weather. Males produce their shrill incessant song by vibrating membranes on each side of the body - generally at ambient temperatures above 25°C. Very much a sound of the Mediterranean. The larvae live in the soil for several years feeding on roots. Adults fly fast and straight with occasionally significant changes of direction - quite charcteristic.

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  • Red-rumped Swallow

    Not a bird I know much about - I think there has been one record in Dordogne. When we arrived for our holiday in Spain near the Ebro Delta in mid August there was quite a passage of these birds. I went out early with Joseph one morning and managed a photo from below just after dawn when they started to get active. Strange, the beak looks like it is bent to the left. The nest is unusual with a tube-shaped entrance - presumably an anti-predator device.

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  • Barnacle Geese in Helsinki

    During our recent Spanish holiday we had 5 days in Finland staying in the capital city Helsinki. Several things impressed me about the birdlife: the tame Jackdaws by the port (eastern subspecies complete with whitish collar) and Hooded Crows. Perhaps even more surprising were the numbers of Barnacle Geese in mid August. On the wetland reed marsh reserve at Viikki they were in their hundreds as well as being scattered elsewhere including the tourist isle of Suomelinna - the old 18th century island fortress - where a band of clip-winged birds did a good job of 'sheep-grazing' the short turf. Also at Viikki, a pair of Whooper Swans, a family of Fieldfares (by a bus stop at a block of flats) and my first Lesser Whitethroat in around 20 years were also memorable.

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  • Two-tailed Pasha

    This is a post about a butterfly in Spain where I spent most of my recent holidays - though it's nice to think that one day Two-tailed Pashas may grace the hillside of Dordogne - though we would need a lot more Strawberry Trees (caterpillar food plant) and significantly warmer temperatures.

    I saw these butterflies in the El Ports and Sierra Cardo mountains respectively in Catalunya inland from the Ebro Delta in late August. They really are stunning butterflies - very large, colourful and strong fliers. Like some other butterflies they are rather fond of rotting fruit and animal droppings amongst other things - personally I prefer the blackberries below!

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  • Mole Cricket

    These amazing creatures are becoming rare in Dordogne - and are nearly extinct in Britain. I was lucky enough to find one around ten years ago whilst running a wildlife holiday in Beynac. We were taking a short evening stroll and I found a Mole Cricket on the stone steps rising from the main road next to the river. I picked it up and it bit me hard - very painful! It wasn't easy to view at dusk either. However last week near Beynac I found another one at a pond which after being handled carefully, posed for photos in reasonable daylight. Normally they are nocturnal but the cloudy wet morning had perhaps encouraged the cricket to stay out. It really is quite a bizarre animal with these fabulous mole-like front feet, a great example of convergent evolution. They are great diggers and like damp pastures often near water bodies. I hope it isn't 10 years before I find another one!

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  • 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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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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