All posts filed under: French Wildlife

South Charente in August

The sunflower and maize fields clothe the hills in a pale yellow and dull green patchwork; the cereals have been harvested and the stubbled earth disced and left full of weeds. Fine Charente cattle with newborn calves and attendant bulls are in green pastures; the […]

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A Scarce Large Blue Day

12th August 2017 The weather is calm, cloudy and warm at Les Tourbières de Vendoire; a good day for looking for the scarce large blue Phengaris teleius butterfly, a species now restricted to only a handful of locations in western France. The French name l’azuré de la sanguisorbe is more […]

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Summer days at Bois Jarzeau

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 […]

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Pech Bely in late May

The land is dry, the barley fields are high and field margins and fallows full of colourful plants. The vines are putting on their light green leaf. A distant woodlark sings its fluting song in the cloudless dawn, later joined by a weeping tree pipit, […]



The river Seine is wide at the small town of Duclair where the ferry (or bac) takes cars and people back and forth for free. The river is at the top of a huge loop (or boucle) of the river that snakes between Rouen and […]

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Moulin de Perdrigeau

April 5th and 6th 2016 The old windmill with no sails sits on the hilltop in the centre of the forest like an upturned flower pot; the top is now a watch tower wth 360 degree views over the pines and farmland, with distant wooded hills, villages and […]

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South Charente Spring

The fine chateau at Villebois-Lavalette sits on a low hill, the medieval fortifications speak of a long and combustible history: an Iron Age fortification; a Roman castrum; an  English stronghold during the Hundred Years War; the seat of Dukes in the age of aristocracy; a prison after the Revolution; and […]

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Pech Bely Encore

The April weather this year is sharp showers and brisk winds then warm sun and clear light. Dawn drowns in deep dew. The dead vines are pruned and tied and the rows harrowed. The first trees are coming into leaf led by Montpellier maple Acer monspessulanum, bright green with yellow flowers. […]

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Pech Bely

Spring: 22nd April – 1st May 2013. The small road from the ancient, bastide town of Tournon d’Agenais runs along the valley of the river Boudouyssou, a small tributary of the Lot. Above the river, on a small plateau accessed by a narrow spur road, sits […]


Bois Jarzeau Encore

The land of the south Charente is a changing; old fashioned, low intensive mixed farming is on the wane and new intensive agriculture is spreading. The old is untidy and intricate, fascinating but inefficient; and the new, uniform and sharp-lined, mundane but productive and profitable. Young Limousine […]


South Charente and North Dordogne Fritillaries

Everywhere in the quiet borderland of the rivers Dronne and Lizonne/Nizonne there are fritillary butterflies, captivating in their intricate brown, orange and gold filigree patterns; all confusingly similar but subtly different. This then is a brief and provisional aide memoire on the six (or seven) common […]


Le Plateau d’Argentine

The small village of Argentine, so small it is now linked with nearby Rochebeaucourt as La Rochebeaucourt-et-Argentine, sits peacefully at one end of a long limestone plateau above the river Nizonne looking over the rolling hills of the Charente to the west. The plateau is a great grey […]

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