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Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • The sad demise of a pristine Black-veined White and other stories...

    Black-veined Whites are having a great season this year locally. They are a beautiful large butterfly and fly powerfully and majestically around the meadows and scrub. The caterpillars foodpalnt are fruit trees - including many Prunus species. They can become pests in orchards. I've been counting up to 20 during an hour long walk near the house in recent days. This recently-emerged individual (see below) however was not so lucky. Perhaps at the first flower it chose to nectar at, it was caught and killed by this spider (the white blob near the middle of the photo) most likely Misumena vatia whose colour generally matches the colour of the flower they wait on.

    Previously found in southern UK, the Black-veined White became extinct there around 1925. County extinctions had already occured from the early 19th century and the species soon went into a steep decline but hung on in three core areas: the New Forest, east Kent and the Welsh Borders. It's a species of wide population fluctuations (the reasons for which are not fully understood) and despite periods of local abundance in these three areas in the early 20th century, colonies continued to be lost. With colonies isolated and reduced in size and further threatened by collectors, the species's days were numbered.

    Fortunately although these wide population fluctuations have also been noted on this side of the English Channel, in Dordogne at least, they always seem to bounce back after a year or two of scarcity. However the species has also declined in the north of France, and this is believed to be due to agricultural intensification. Personally I don't remember a poor year for Black-veined Whites during my nearly 20 years here. However maybe Dordogne is more fortunate than most departments in France with an extensive meadow and forest mosaic (with mostly unintensive mixed farming), ideal for this superb butterfly.


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Welcome to my Dordogne Wildlife Diary

In it you will find regular wildlife sightings in the d├ępartement of Dordogne, notably of birds and butterflies in southern Dordogne where I live. In adddition there will be occasional references to neighbouring d├ępartements 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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