Sunday, June 03, 2012

France Update 2

Poppy Fields Galore!
After yesterdays high of 30C and last nights amazing thunderstorm which dispensed with the humidity we awoke Sunday morning to a much fresher day. With temps now in the low 20s and a light breeze it was by far a more comfortable environment.

One of our favourite things about rural France is the fact that you can simply get into the car and drive with impunity around the back lanes of the many small sleepy towns and villages, sometimes without seeing a soul for miles. The surrounding countryside is extremely diverse and unlike England isn't covered in a carpet of garish bright yellow rapeseed! Instead there are various orchards and many fields of wheat, barley, maize and of course grape vine, plus alongside many roads vast sections of poppies making the vista come alive with an abundance of colour.

Stunning ♂Montagu's Harrier
Dee and I took a morning drive stopping at various points, well to be honest every time we spotted something perched on a bush or wire, or indeed anything that looked remotely interesting in flight. To this end it wasn't long before we'd recorded Marsh, Hen and ♂♀Montagu's Harrier, Kestrel, Common Buzzard and a number of smaller species such as Cirl Bunting, Stonechat, Red-backed Shrike and many Corn Bunting.

Cirl Bunting
Having visited once or twice before we stopped off to pay our respects at a memorial to the French resistance which is located in Forest Domaniale de Mareuil just outside Chauvigny and took a stroll through the nearby wood. It seems that Nightingales and Cuckoo's are in good numbers here in France, everywhere we seem to visit has one and here was no exception. A very vocal Western Bonelli's Warbler was a pleasure to hear and a brief call of Firecrest before we decided we'd been harassed enough by the mosquito population and headed back to the sanctuary of the car.

European Tree Frog
La Pinail Nature Reserve is one of our favourites and is situated only 10 miles from Dee's parents house and is 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 heathland rich in rare fauna and flora. After a delicious lunch back at the house Dee, her mum Susan and I spent a very enjoyable few hours investigating this amazing place.

Black-veined White
During our stay we managed a good selection of Odanata, recording the rare White-faced Darter, Butterflies such as Gatekeeper, Azure Blue, Scarce Swallowtail, Black-veined White and various frogs including the Common Water Frog, Pool Frog and the amazing European Tree frog! Birds of the day: Stonechat, Whinchat, Meadow Pipit, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Melodious Warbler but unfortunately no sign of Dartford Warbler a scarce but regular breeder on the site!