Friday, 25 July 2014

Wildlife in France

I recently came back from a trip to France with my family. We were staying with my aunt who lives in Bourges, about 40 minutes away from the official centre of the country, which gives you an idea of just how smack-bang in the middle we were! It's a beautiful area with an awful lot to offer and we spent some lovely days visiting various sights, including a walk along the Marais. This literally translates as the swamp but it's certainly far from a swamp, or how I picture one to look! It's a series of waterways that runs for miles through Bourges and surrounding areas, creating little islands of land that are used as allotments. 
It was a bakingly hot day (a max. of 38 degrees!) so there wasn't a huge amount in the way of birdlife. There were several families of coots with chicks at various stages of development; some brand-new and still fluffy and other nearly fully-fledged adults. I also spotted a heron flying across the horizon. 
Most exciting for me though was the pair of little grebes I glimpsed briefly. Although I've seen great-crested grebes before, little grebes were a new one for me so I was quite pleased that I spotted them before they ducked under the water and swam off. I actually heard them before I saw them; they have a pretty distinctive call
Not a great photo but they didn't stick around for the paparazzi!
As I said, it was extremely hot for the entire week and this meant that there were a huge amount of butterflies out and about. I snapped a couple which is an achievement I feel, as they are the most difficult creatures to photograph! They either flutter around so quickly you can barely identify them or, when they land, they close up their wings and hide away their beautiful colours! 
Walking along the marais, I also spotted a beautifully coloured moth which I'd never seen before and had to Google for I.D. The only reason I knew it wasn't a butterfly was because of the shape when it landed. When I had a look online, I discovered that it was in fact a Jersey tiger moth. Another first for me!
Look at that fab pattern!
The other thing I noticed while in France was a huge number of birds of prey in the skies and in the fields. That particular area (Bourges, Sancerre etc.) is very much arable which is very different to the grazing land around us at home. There were buzzards, kestrels, hawks, all sorts!

My favourite moments were sitting in the garden and watching the butterflies in the mornings, although I won't miss the flies over there; they bite!

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