Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's What You Make It!

Today's Red-backed Shrike by Dee
By now I would have hoped to be reporting on my birding exploits here in France, but fate dealt me a nasty blow shortly before arriving at the airport on our way here, when by back finally gave up the ghost rendering my left leg almost useless. I can’t even explain the excruciating pain that accompanied it, something I’ve never experienced before.

I eventually arrived with Dee at Limoge Airport to be greeted by her mother, who looking for the usual 6’5” strapping husband accompanying her daughter through arrivals looked down to find me squashed into a wheelchair, a sight to behold.

So, since arriving on Sunday evening I’ve literally been a prisoner at Dee’s parent’s home, but did manage short drives out yesterday and today with Dee, having been drugged up by an excellent French doctor. Mind you I use the expression a prisoner light-heartedly, as yet again Dee and I have been treated like a lord and lady by her parents, home grown and home cooked food, beautiful wines and excellent conversation.

Dee's Turtle Dove Record Shot
The grounds of their beautiful house have also provided a haven for many species of birds, butterflies, insects and mammals and quite simply provided me with my very own personal nature reserve. Birds of note whilst sitting in the garden have been; Turtle Dove, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, Black Kite over, plus many Common Buzzard. Barn, Tawny and Little Owl have also been heard from our bedroom window and while sitting out in the evenings having dinner we’ve been entertained by both Noctule and Pipistrelle Bats, the latter of which roost in the door overhang.

Each evening Dee has toured the grounds with her mum and dad in search of Glow-Worms and with great success, seeing several on each trip. As a bonus for me, who absolutely adores thunderstorms, we were treated to real cracker early Monday morning which produced some spectacular lightening and seemed to rumble on forever.

Scarce Swallowtail By Dee
During our drives out we managed to locate several butterfly meadows and while I sat in the air-conditioned car finger pointing Dee went exploring, paying for it with a few nasty bites but producing some excellent shots of Scarce Swallowtail, Marbled White, Clouded Yellow, Granville Fritillary and several more yet to be identified! We also discovered a very active family of around five or six Red-backed Shrike, which entertained us along one the many secluded country lanes. Corn Bunting, more Turtle Doves, Kestrel, Buzzard, Wood Warbler and Nightingale, unfortunately being slightly late in the year not entertaining us with a song.

Tomorrow is Bastille Day and hopefully all being well I’ll make it to Chauvigny for the celebrations and so were told a magnificent firework display, even if I have to sit in the car! So despite my predicament my cup always being half full I can honestly say that with a fantastic wife at my side and with the help of Susan and Graham I’m having a great time. I must also say a big thank you to all who have texed and emailed to see how I'm doing, much appreciated.