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 spottedContinue reading “Old friends…”

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 plantContinue reading “Spring butterflies”

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”

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 verticalContinue reading “Mani in mid May”

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 carContinue reading “Beyond Lagkada”

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 topContinue reading “Eleochorio”

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”

Benfleet Letters

Today the cloud is over the and temperature down after the heatwave of the past few days but the wind is away and butterflies are on the wing low in the rides on the rich array of flowering plants. The ubiquitous butterflies fill the colourful rides; meadow browns, ringlets, three species of whites, peacock andContinue reading “Benfleet Letters”