Monday, 7 November 2011

HOME IN THE DORDOGNE. (Nature in the garden)

We returned in early May to find that the weather had been very dry, which affected our usual riot of Orchids, very few this year, we normally have many species, the only ones that did well were the Lizard Orchids. Spring turned into a long dry summer, which favoured the many butterflies visiting our wild flowers & of course our Lavender. Here are a few we photographed.

Swallow Tail

Queen of Spain Fritillary

Clouded Yellow


In France there seem to be many more snakes than we ever saw in England, probably due to the warmer weather conditions, we have been lucky enough to photograph some of them in their mating courtship. The ones below are the Western Whip Snake, which is non poisonous.

The garden was alive with baby birds and poor frazzled parents trying to keep up with the food supply.
Below are some Great Tits, familiar in all gardens and some Blue Tits, whose babies nearly drove the poor parents mad with their demands, caught in the early morning light.

Birds that mainly fed on insects began to find it really hard, because of the dry conditions, a brief spell of rain in July saved them. Melodious Warblers were happily feasting on the insects brought out by the rain, as was the Whitethroat and Redstarts.

Melodious Warbler


Female Black Redstart

As usual the Redstarts nested under our veranda and we have noticed a distinct lack of males again. The nest building seems to be done only by two females, who go on to raise the chicks alone, not a male in sight! ( the male is very noticeable, as he is very brightly coloured,
SELECT APRIL 2011 BLOG for the male)
We were so happy that our Nightingales returned and nested in our boundary woodland, filling our nights with beautiful trilling song. Thankfully they raised a good brood this year, without the attack of Sparrowhawk! This parent was photographed under our Lime Tree.

The Nuthatches and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers have also done really well with youngsters this year. We hope that we have helped them with our continued feeding of sunflower seeds through the summer and we know that we have certainly taken the pressure off the Tit families!


One of the lovely things about living in the Dordogne, is that we get exotic guests too, the Golden Oriole, (a flying banana) in the male version, and the Hoopoe, with that lovely soft ooo ooo call, a bit like blowing down a bottle!!

Golden Oriole


Late summer and the Swallows are diving into our swimming pool to drink and have a dunk! They are feeding their babies in some of our dead trees, that we have left standing, as so many birds like to perch there.

We are so lucky to be on a main migration route for so many birds travelling to Spain, Africa & Sub Saharan Africa. Not only do we have the wonderful flight of the Cranes, their wistful cries filling the air, as they go southward for the winter and again in early spring, northwards, but also flocks of smaller birds. This year we photographed Wood Larks, passing through to below the Sahara Desert, also Whinchats, this little bird is going all the way to Senegal, Kenya or Zambia and only lives for about 2years, how does that make you feel? We feel in awe!!

Wood Lark

Whinchat contemplating the journey!
Our Caucasian Mountain chiffchaff may be close to destination, the West coast of France for the winter, but for us a first in our garden! See below.

This year brought two new species to our garden, the spring migration brought our first ever Woodchat Shrike.... This is one we photographed earlier!!

On the Autumn passage we were so surprised, whilst drinking our aperitifs, on a beautiful sunny evening, with no marsh or water in sight, two Great White Egrets landed in our garden, racing to get the camera, we just caught them as they took off again, frightened by the church bells at 7pm.

As summer draws to its close, out steps the Roebuck, we so hope he will survive the season of the chasse, whilst overhead the Buzzard wheels, another year is passing away, and another will begin!

The farmers are bringing in the harvest, combines are working night and day, dust in evening light, we try to capture the moment.

Now we are off too, migrating north, to intercept the Cranes at the Lac du Der-Chantecoq, where we hope to see 50,000 or more Cranes before they go southward. We hope to join them again, in Spain, at the Laguna de Gallacanta, where the vistas are far and frozen.

No comments: