Thursday, 26 May 2011

La Brenne - part 3

This is a pristine southern form of White Admiral, which were common everywhere we went - superb butterflies - at one site I came across a pair engaged in their mating dance, in which they were so preoccupied that I was able to get the camera close without disturbing them, although they were moving and flapping so fast not many of the shots were sharp

As he flapped his wings, the male was catching the sunlight so that his wings "flashed" blue and black several times a second, a stunning sight - no wonder the female was impressed!

Another beautiful butterfly around in high numbers was the Black Veined White, I' m sorry to say after day 1 we started to take them for granted

We also found several Fritillaries, Phil's pics do them justice, but I got this photo of a Spotted Fritillary

Dragonflies were also very numerous, and I am looking forwaqrd very much to hearing what Ian Hodgson makes of them all when he visits La Brenne soon, he doesn't know what a treat he's in for!
This example was still unfolding it's wings when I took this shot
I regret I can't tell you what it is, maybe someone can help me out please
Here's a couple more

And finally a photo which sums up the birdwatching potential of the area

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

La Brenne part 2, a mystery, and an unwanted intruder

First, the mystery - this thing was lurking in some grasses in a super rough meadow, I thought it was a moth, possibly a Small Phoenix, but it isn't - any ideas??

Now for the unwanted intruder - apologies for this pic again, but notice the white water lily growth beyond the fringe of reeds here, the Whiskered Terns nest on the lily pads hereabouts, so they are an important plant for this reason as well as many others

We were in the brand spanking new hide at the Etang Purais - Phil was busy with his camera and I was just taking it all in when an agitated Black Headed Gull caught my attention - it was mobbing something in the  water coming towards the hide - up with the bins - it was a Coypu, dreaded eater of Lily pads and very unwelcome because of that, according to posters in the reserve visitor centre at La Cherine - and then up with the the camera for these shots

Clearly the gull doesn't think much of Coypu either, although it sat and watched it after trying to shoo it away - the Coypu just paddled on completely unfazed

By way of a change, a couple shots of the mill and church tower in Preuilly sur Claise whence we went 2 evenings for our dinner, pausing en route on Wednesday evening to find the Stone Curlew pictured on Phil's blog

And finally for part 2, a shot of the bar in the village square at Azay le Ferron where we took ale before dinner each evening in the warm sun with Swifts screaming, and House Martins farting (according to Simon Barnes - that's how he hears their calls!) Dunno who the oik under the cascading rose is!

Next, in part 3, insects and the mating dance of White Admirals to admire

Monday, 23 May 2011

La Brenne - part 1

Have spent last week in this superb part of France, to the West of Chateauroux, superb place, third time I have been down there, see for the first 2 visits. This time I am pleased to report the weather was absolutely perfect, and the birds and insects stunning. Phil Smith came with me and heroically did all the driving so it was a real holiday for me, apart from keeping an eye on where his satnav was taking us - I admit to not trusting the darned things at all. Phil has put his superb pics on his blog at - you must see them
This is a typical hide view, at Etang Mouton, where we watched the Cattle Egret and the Konik Ponies, of which more later

In all we have seen between us about 100 species, my list is after these pics of the habitats down there

This meadow was stunning, we spent an hour here, me just drinking in the beauty, Phil taking photos

I liked the roses round the door in this next one, I think its a store for the fish harvesting!

A word of warning, most of the lakes are used for farming fish to eat, Carp species mostly - if you eat out down there my advice is to steer clear of the "speciality local fish" - it's smoked Carp fillet, very good for the soles of your boots, but not to my taste to eat

The list, please try and stay awake I shall be asking questions later

Great Crested Grebe
Black NeckedGrebe
Little Grebe
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret (should be pony egret) and I make no apology for including 2 pics of this delightful experience when the pony set off and waded across the Etang Mouton with the Egret on it's back

You can hear the Swan wondering what's going on

Night Heron - this blighter flew in right in front of the hide, perched in a bush with only its bum showing, and off to the right as well so yours truly at the left end of the flaps was the only one with it in view. After a minute it turned round so I went zap, then stepped up the hide a few people to tell Phil it was in view, he scrambled down, bugger, it had gone and deprived you of one of his superb photos. As an aside, digital photography has boomed in France, with the result that every time anything moves it's like the papperazzi - clickety clatter rattle, I found it very off-putting and disturbing
Mute Swan
Canada Goose
Tufted Duck
Red Crested Pochard
Booted Eagle
Common Buzzard
Black Kite
Red Kite
Honey Buzzard
Marsh Harrier
Montague's Harrier
Water Rail - we think the young were just out of the nest as the parents led them off to another reed bed as we watched
Red legged Partridge
Common Sandpiper
Black winged Stilt
Stone Curlew
Black headed Gull
Whiskered Tern
Turtle Dove
Collared Dove
Common Cuckoo
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
House Martin
Tree Pipit
Yellow Wagtail
Grey wagtail
White Wagtail
Black Redstart
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Cetti's Warbler
Sedge warbler
Reed Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Long tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Corn Bunting
Cirl Bunting - Phil's pic is better, then so is his camera
Reed Bunting
Serin - singing (the rusty lawnmower song) to wake me right outside my hotel window
House Sparrow
Golden Oriole
we spent ages trying to see one which was calling near to the visitor centre at la Cherine, eventually a
 flew in to the tree above us and instantly the Oriole appeared to chase it away, superb views
Carrion Crow

More to come folks - Butterflies, Dragonflies and Moths and stuff