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 remain…

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….

Old friends…

On a warm day with strong sunshine and few periods of persistent cloud, we took the sunken footpath up from Shoreham station. The ancient byway was flanked by veteran beech trees with smooth, silver grey trunks above exposed roots that twisted out of the ground. On White Hill, the fragrant, man, pryamidal and common spotted…

Spring butterflies

The early butterflies are nearly all widespread species including orange tips, brimstones and ‘cabbage whites’, the exception in southern England is the Duke of Burgundy fritillary and the nearest colony is near Canterbury. Peacocks and small tortoiseshells are also out and both common this year. The hedge garlic and lady’s smock are the host plant…

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 only…

August at Boisjarzeau

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 all…

Mani in mid May

The Mani is spectacular from pine forests in the mountains down through the long, deep gorges to the olive groves and stony coast. The summits of the Taygetos remain snow covered and often drowned in heavy grey cloud; the plants will be at their best in another month or so. The high tops and vertical…

Beyond Lagkada

On Good Friday (26th April) the villages come alive in the evening, everybody is in the street or eating on the terrace. In Lagkada opposite the cafe, young people light Chinese lanterns that wobble into the air and float dangerously over the stone houses. At Agios Nikolaos, after long months of winter sleep, the car…

Eleochorio

The hill village of Eleochorio perches on the edge of a wooded ravine; most of the houses are empty, some crumbling away and others just used by visiting families. On the cliffs below at least two pairs of kestrels and a raven nest; the red-rumped swallows fly around the church and houses at the top…