Summer days at Bois Jarzeau

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French Wildlife

The heat of the past few days brings dark thunderstorms that travel up from the south over the wooded hills to the west, then switch direction, run up the Vallée de la Tude, and deluge the ground. The humidity immediately drops and the cool, clear air is cleaned of pollen and dust.

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Storms from the south roll over the village of Bellon

The fields of cereals and young maize dominate the landscape hereabouts; many are well managed and so free of wild plants, but, in some, poppies thrive and riddle the barley red. The narrow field boundaries, woods and waste ground still retain a richness in plants and invertebrates, but this may be diminishing with what appears to be an increasingly intensive agriculture.

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Poppies in the barley

The hen harriers are again breeding in the young pine plantations around the Moulin de Perdrigeau; the female is probably on eggs or small young and, after a wait, the male announces his arrival carrying prey with a far-carrying whistle. The food-pass is missed; hidden on the far side of the hill, and then he circles up and away. This pattern may happen only a few times each day until the young grow and demand a more frequent delivery. A black woodpecker is disturbed in the nearby pine plantation; a Dartford warbler chitters from the young plantation that is drowned in gorse and lanky heather.

The patches of ancient oak woodland in the forest have southern white admiral, niobe fritillary (possibly high brown), knapweed and heath fritillaries; and a brown hare with poor eyesight that walks the track to within a few metres before realising the error. Beautifully marked, pearly heaths are more common than small heaths in the roadside bushes.

Down at the stream in the damp ground near the railway bridge, blue butterflies and a lesser purple emperor take up salts. The black kites are whistling from the nearby wood, where southern white admiral and a red admiral chase up and down in the sunny spots and a red squirrel is disturbed, runs up an ivy-clad tree, and freezes.

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An old god of the sea on the garden wall now welcomes all at Bois Jarzeau

 

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