DORDOGNE BUTTERFLY BIRDWATCHING WILDLIFE DAY TRIPS AND TOURS

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Dordogne

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Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • Green-winged Orchid

    The Green-winged orchid is our commonest early flowering orchid and can be found almost anywhere even away from the limestone. It is often mistaken for the Early Purple Orchid as it is early and purple. However the leaves aren't spotted and the upper petals and sepals are lined horizontally in green (this shows best on the scarce white variety). The Green-winged Orchid grows in open grassland whereas the Early Purple is often under trees or on the woodland edge.

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  • Alpine Squill

    The Alpine Squill is a pretty spring flower I found recently in a wood on limestone at Cause de Clerans - thanks to Corine Oosterlee, a Dutch lady and local botanist. It doesn't appear to grow wild in UK but is restricted to France and Germany and grows in lowlands as well as mountains.

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  • female Orange-tip having a rest...

    When I was a little boy in England this was one of my favourite butterflies, well the male with the "orange tips" really. But the female goes almost forgotten as people see "another cabbage white" flit by. In fact when you look at it in detail it is rather a pretty little butterfly and not just plain black and white. The underside hindwings have very delicate green and white marbling like the male. They lay there eggs on various wild members of the cabbage family like Lady's Smock (Cuckoo Flower) The species is a harbinger of better summer days to come...which is never a bad thing. In the Mediterranean there is an exotic yellowish species.

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  • Record number of Rock Sparrows on Faux Plateau!

    Even seeing it I couldn't quite believe it myself - 62 Rock Sparrows on the wires yesterday by the main road at Montaut. Normally I see one or two, perhaps a small flock if I am lucky. It appears that the farming on Faux Plateau is still favourable to some of the specialist wildlife.

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  • Crossbill Guide Dordogne - the book is finally published today

    Well D-day has finally arrived (delivery-day from the printers of 2000 copies of the Crossbill Guide Dordogne to Crossbill Offices in Holland). So I feel that I should mark it with a quick post. It's been written on and off over the last five years by myself and a local French naturalist Frank Jouandoudet. With over 250 pages it covers the landscape, flora and fauna, history and nature conservation and includes 21 routes and 23 additional sites to best observe the wildlife. Illustrated in full colour with lots of photos - mainly our own and taken in Dordogne - as well as maps and diagrams.

    For those of you who would like to see a sample of the book please visit: https://issuu.com/crossbillguidesfoundation/docs/cg27_dordogne_issuu

    For further information and ordering please visit: https://crossbillguides.nl/dordogne

    This is my brother John's humorous take on it all: https://johnsimpson.org/2018/04/09/the-crossbill-guide-to-dordogne/

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  • orchids rising!

    Despite the changeable weather the orchids are rising! I visited Les Eyzies last week and one sunny bank had several Small Spider and Green-winged Orchids. A patch of rough ground by Saint Sauveur football ground has a nice little colony of Green-winged Orchids whilst my first Lady Orchid this spring was opening at Lac d'Escourroux on Saturday. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a large colony hundreds of Green-winged Orchids has appeared on the meadow opposite us in Bergerac. This is a species which can live away from limestone and we are mainly on sand here...however having said that there was a fresh Lady Orchid with its first flower amongst them!

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  • Where are the Dartford Warblers? They're here don't worry!

    I love these little heathland birds. The Dartford Warbler male is a smart bird with a beautiful Bordeaux claret bib, breast and belly with a cool slate grey back. The bib is sprinkled too with some very fetching little white spots. Without the long tail they would be pretty much the smallest bird in Europe.

    They live in dense ground cover searching for food most of the day (and roosting there at night) and you could easily be fooled into thinking none are present on a site. However on a sunny spring day, once one bird starts they will call (short and harsh) and sing (a little jerky and scratchy warble) often in short songflights. However taking their photo is never easy, hence this rather poor (but artistic?) silhouette through the scrub!

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  • The advantages of Black Woodpeckers...

    This photo of a fallen tree shows how useful Black Woodpeckers can be in the breakdown process of fallen wood. Their size and power means that they can literally take a tree apart searching for grubs to eat. Once the woodpeckers start many other smaller fauna and fauna lend a hand - in turn attracting animals which feed on them too, and thus enriching the forest.

    The same is true of nesting holes. Black Woodpeckers make several large oval-shaped holes with a deep wide cavity inside. They tend to prefer pine, beech, poplar or plane trees. Those unused or abandoned after nesting are often used by other species for nesting or roosting. In mountainous areas of Europe for example, the small Tengmalm's Owl use these holes.

    With Black Woodpeckers colonising Dordogne over the last twenty or thirty years from the northeast they have doubtless added to the biodiversity of the forests here as they are now widespread and relatively common. However they are always remarkably discrete and difficult to see for a large crow-sized bird capable of making a lot of noise when they want too!

    As Black Woodpeckers are spreading further westward and southward through France these large impressive woodpeckers are spreading a bit of biodiversity wherever they go!

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  • The iconic Large Tortoiseshell

    This is not the tortoiseshell butterfly you see on the garden buddleia which is actually rare in Dordogne but the larger golden cousin of the woodlands. The Large Tortoiseshell is common in Dordogne and the best time to see it is now (or even as early as mid February) when butterflies emerge from hibernation - like this battered little male. A later brood emerges in mid summer but relatively few are seen as they spent time in the treetops and soon retire to hibernation. Once found in UK though always scarce, it is now possibly making a comeback with butterflies regularly reported in recent years on the Isle of Wight. It is indeed a handsome butterfly with black underwings.

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  • the beautiful Snake's-head Fritillary

    A stunningly beautiful flower best seen up close. They are a March flower here of wet meadows generally by streams and small rivers. Often accompanied by Wood Anenome, Purple Toothwort, Tuberous Comfrey and Dog's Mercury. Heaven! These flowers were near the stunning Chateau de Bridoire in SW Dordogne.

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David

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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