Vallée de la Renaudie et Les Tourbières de Vendoire

The narrow valley at the Nature Reserve along the river Renaudie is parched. A small herd of fine Charente cattle are supplied water from a bowser. The thistles are thick with seed but the last flowers are full of a wide variety of bees. The river is bone dry but there are dragonflies. The onlyContinue reading “Vallée de la Renaudie et Les Tourbières de Vendoire”

August at Bois Jarzeau

The view across the Tude valley is dry and parched. The wheat is cut and fields disced and harrowed; the sunflowers are burnt brown and heavy; and the maize is still green with irrigation deployed to combat the long drought. A great banded grayling sets up territory on the lime tree and chases off allContinue reading “August at Bois Jarzeau”

L’ancien et le nouveau chez Bois Jarzeau

The hot weather of August produces great storms that travel from the west and on one day monumental clouds rise up over the hameau.   The hameau, like many hereabouts, is part old and part new as homes are created in the ancient limestone buildings. On the old well (le puits) at Bois Jarzeau there isContinue reading “L’ancien et le nouveau chez Bois Jarzeau”

Les Papillons de Bellon

The butterflies in August are still present in good numbers in old pastures, woodland edges and especially along the railway line where access tracks are carefully maintained and the vegetation cleared annually. Near a fishing lake and nestling between a poplar plantation and lines of tall oak trees, a small field of plantains, docks, knapweedContinue reading “Les Papillons de Bellon”

La Vallée de la Tude

A long section of the river Tude around Chalais in the South Charente is specially protected for its range of wetland habitats and associated species. The introduction to the detailed protected area document describes a small, lowland river and its tributaries in an area of mixed farming: Le site Natura 2000 « Vallée de la Tude »Continue reading “La Vallée de la Tude”

Hawfinch wars

Hawfinches are abundant in the oakwoods around Boisjarzeau this Spring; the birds stay high in the treetops but give themselves away with their clipped tsick calls. At the bird feeders, they sit in the basket of sunflower seeds and don’t give way to any of the mob of other finches and house sparrows. The hawfinches haveContinue reading “Hawfinch wars”

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 calves are only present for a few days before beingContinue reading “South Charente in August”

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 fitting as the food plant of the freshly emerged caterpillarContinue reading “A Scarce Large Blue Day”

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 of pollen and dust. The fields of cereals and youngContinue reading “Summer days at Bois Jarzeau”