Dordogne Butterfly Birdwatching

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Wild-Dordogne-Logo_2.5cm_green
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Wildlife Guiding and La Cabane du Pommier

la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • White Storks at Libourne

    Where the River Isle joins the River Dordogne at Libourne there are interesting wet meadows and woods between the meanders of the river - the 'palus' in local patois.

    At this time of year the Snake's-head Fritillary flowers are opening and White Storks are constructing their nests. A beautiful time of year. Two protected plants grow beside this tidal freshwater stretch of the Dordogne river - Angelica heterocarpa (a large umbellifer endemic to France) and Scripus triqueter (a club-rush with a three sided stem).

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  • Spring at Cabant

    It's Cowslip time at Cabant with this species joining Primroses adorning the roadside banks and gardens locally. It means that the orchids will soon start to flower: firstly Early Spider and Green-winged.

    Other early spring flowers include Narrow-leaved Lungwort and the wild cherries.

    Butterflies are on the wing with not just the odd Red Admiral but the first Wall and Specked Wood adding to other larger more colourful nymphalids. They are often attracted to the mass of flowers on the cherry trees and bushes. In the forest this afternoon I disturbed two Brown Hares boxing - who then ran off at high speed in their courtship excitement. I always find it strange that hares live here in the forest - as places where I knew them in UK were always open country.

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  • Winter hangs on in the Pyrenees: 18 - 25 February 2017

    A view from the Col de Portillon not far from Luchon and on the Spanish border - with not a lot of snow evident. A Black Woodpecker was singing and drumming in the distant woodland and a pair of Golden Eagles passed overhead - a larger young female (with big white patches on the wing underside) together with a smaller darker mature male.

    We had one very cold frosty night which produced this interesting frost pattern on our bedroom velux window at the resort hotel.

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  • Early plants and birds in the French Pyrenees

    We recently spent two weeks at Luchon in the Pyrenees ski-ing - and the first spring flowers were opening. This is a Green Hellebore. In Dordogne we have Stinking Hellebore here on the limestone. The Green Hellebore has more open (and greener) flowers which are more dispersed on the plant.

    It was also interesting to see Common Lungwort as we have Narrow-leaved at the house in Dordogne - the difference being mainly the leaf shape but also bigger flowers on Common Lungwort.

    There were masses of Coal Tits about - something I rarely see in Dordogne. Common Frogs spawning in a stream-side artificial pond was interesting - they only inhabit northern Dordogne in this department - Agile Frogs (which replace them in south Dordogne) have just laid their first spawn in Duncan's little pond here.

    Birding highlighlights were several Golden Eagles up the side valleys and a Lammergeier on the last day over Luchon.

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  • first primroses...

    The first primroses were flowering last weekend in the orchard. This morning (Wednesday 22nd Feb) I found my first Cowslips coming into flower by the house.

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  • Black Stork visiting...

    I went out to the car at lunchtime (Saturday 18 February) and noticed a large bird circling above the house. I could just about make out the shape (stork) and black and white pattern - making it a Black Stork. This species is becoming quite common on migration if you are out and about regularly and looking. This one circled for five minutes allowing all the family to have a look (and for me to get a few photos). Odd ones are seen throughout this Common Crane and Red Kite early spring migration period. Perhaps the population further north including central France is increasing?.

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  • Brown Hairstreak eggs

    I notice recently on the local wildlife recorders website Faune-Aquitaine, that people had been finding Brown Hairstreak eggs in Dordogne. These are quite scarce butterflies both here and in the UK. One of the best ways of monitoring them and confirming their presence on a site is to count eggs - the butterflies are small and brown and so easily missed. At the weekend I went out with Joseph to check some of our Blackthorn stands - the food plant of the caterpillars and where the eggs are laid. In around 30 minutes we managed to find 5 eggs - I am pleased to report. Joseph was amazed at the little egg's geometrical structure (he's quite into mathematics and geometry). As they have a particular shape, pattern and especially colour - pure white - they are easy to identify, looking like a tiny sea urchin. Eggs are laid in the crook of a branch with sometimes two or three together.

    The 'brown' adults have rather beautiful underwings and the female adult has large orange patches on the forewing uppers. Unfortunately the female below was rather worn and it was poor light - but it was November. The photo was taken when I was on the terrace planting an apricot tree (apart from various other fruit trees) soon after we bought the property. I watched this female arrive as I worked and she settled and started laying eggs. The fruit trees are long gone (couldn't stand the harsh conditions) but the Brown Hairstreaks are still with us!

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  • Dog Violets in bloom

    As I stopped and pulled off the road to photograph the LIttle Egret last week, I found this colony of Dog Violets. They were on an old south-facing track and obviously in an ideal postion for early flowering. I love seeing early colour like this against last years leaves, dead grass, a little fresh green grass and moss etc. Spring is coming...so first orchids - not too long! In the last few days the weather has been strange. Having been cold, dry, calm and frosty for some time, yesterday there were gale force gusts of wind and 18°C at lunchtime. Today much calmer but still warm with 19°C tomorrow and then sunny and warm for the rest of the week.

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  • the other egret...in the new (temporary) marshland

    Having managed photos of Great White and Cattle Egret for the blog recently I was pleased to find this Little Egret using the newly opened-up mini-marshland where they cropped the poplars in the autumn - down our valley towards Sauveboeuf. You can just about make out the dark beak and (maybe yellow feet) - OK it isn't a great photo! I don't think the marsh will last long as they will probably plant it up again in the spring. This unfortunately has been the fate of many small valley marshes here in Dordogne - as well as areas of larger valleys not already ploughed-up and drained.

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  • Golden Jelly

    I found this on the track last week. It appears to be the Golden Jelly or Yellow Brain fungus Tremella mesenterica. It's usually only seen in winter when it expands and fruits. In drier weather it contracts to form a bone-hard deep orange bracket missed by most people (such as me). It can be found on fallen branches and stumps and is apparently inedible...but rather pretty. I've got a feeling I have photographed this before!

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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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