The last hurrah

The song from the woods is gone; nuthatches and woodpeckers still occasionally sound off but the small woodland birds now rove in chattering flocks. Migrating and local turtle doves are feeding in the sunflower fields but scatter on approach, unsurprising as they are a favourite quarry hereabouts. A young buzzard mews persistently and will remainContinue reading “The last hurrah”

Abri d’art

The art of the gardens at Boisjarzeau in August are the dying borders of Allium, Rudbeckia, Gaura and Agapanthus and a host of others with forgotten names; tall sunflowers in orange and yellow, exuberant vegetable beds, laden fruit trees and raspberry canes, three blue beehives and four fat chickens in a run. The autumn goldsContinue reading “Abri d’art”

The earth

Morning light mellows, cold mist flattens the hilltops. Fields of sunflowers the colours of the earth; a farmhouse built of white stone with rufous clay tiles and sea green shutters that are shut. Late evening light picks out a silver tractor harrowing a fallow field. The day closes on a closing day and the landContinue reading “The earth”

The last empress

Yesterday, at the small stream below Boisjarzeau, the last empress sat in the morning sunshine with tattered wings outspread before feeding on a cluster of overripe blackberries; her great age could not mask her elegance; she soon flew and was quickly lost high in the trees. The final act in a long and rich summer,Continue reading “The last empress”

Agrimony, fleabane, purple loosestrife and water mint

The South Charente bakes then drowns in August. The hay meadows have been cut and collected and the Parthenais cattle have small calves. The flowers are restricted to wet ditches and damp corners except for the road and railsides. Many butterflies seek the water mint and the loosestrife; the coppers are often on the fleabane.Continue reading “Agrimony, fleabane, purple loosestrife and water mint”

L’ancien et le nouveau chez Boisjarzeau

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 Boisjarzeau”

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”