Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wheeled Home

Granville Fritillary
We arrived back from a very enjoyable but frustrating visit to France yesterday evening with Ryanair and for the first time I find myself quite impressed with this so called ‘low-cost’ airline, we only use them when there is literally no other alternative! My praise was mainly due to the fact that being unable to walk I was delivered to and from the aircraft in a wheelchair! Forgive the pun but a far less painful exercise than purchasing priority boarding.

Unfortunately I never did manage to get to Chauvigny for the Bastille Day celebrations but we did manage another drive out, this time to La Pinail reserve, one of our favourite spots whilst staying at Dee’s parents. Situated in the Châtellerault area, this is the only Natural Reserve of France to be found in the district known as La Vienne.

The result of millstone quarrying has given way to a mosaic of 3,000 ponds, which are surrounded by moor and heath land rich in rare fauna and flora. Amongst the many bird species you can find here such as Montague, Hen Harrier and Dartford Warbler are 48 species of dragonflies.

Black Redstart
As per usual on route to Pinail we stopped to check out every bird we found perched on the wires and every flower meadow to check out the butterflies. I had Dee, ‘god bless her’, going from pillar to post, camera in hand, recording literally everything that moved. Unfortunately one of the problems I’ve now got is getting the camera back when things return to normality; Dee enjoyed my new lens and had a great time!

We lost count of Red-backed Shrike; one seemed to be around every corner, and also managed Stonechat, Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher and Black Redstart. Butterflies included Swallowtail; so flighty Dee was unable to get a decent shot, plus Marsh Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Long-tailed Blue, Short-tailed Blue, Silver-studded Blue and Wall.

Migrant Hawker
We eventually arrived at La Pinail and happily I struggled on my newly acquired crutches to enjoy at least a tiny part of the reserve. Yet another Turtle Dove, which seem to be doing well in this area, a Purple Heron that over flew but the most frustrating thing was hearing Dartford Warbler and not being able to get anywhere near! No signs of any Harriers on this visit but lots of Linnet and the odd Stonechat. We eventually headed for home after adding Yellow Wagtail, several Dragonflies, which included Migrant-hawker and along with the Common Green Frogs we located a single Natterjack Toad.