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”

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 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 today a battleground for summer tourists. The land hereabouts isContinue reading “South Charente Spring”

Bois Jarzeau

The small, stone quiet village of Bellon sits on one of the endless rolling hills of the south Charente surrounded by large fields of maize and sunflower. The village is like a thousand others that pepper the landscape and together act like myriad anchors across the soft, green ocean that is rural France. The small village of Bellon. BoisContinue reading “Bois Jarzeau”