Monday 29 May 2017

La Brenne -Sixième et dernier jour

The last day and the hot spell had broken, just a mild 26C expected today. In fact everything felt much fresher.

How can time fly past so quickly it seemed that we had only just arrived - just shows that we must have been enjoying ourselves

Mothing at Tony's

A big thanks to Tony Williams who set up a moth trap at his own house, filled it with moths and then allowed us to check the contents. There were hundreds of specimens of an unknown number of species, I just photographed those that were more amenable whilst the others did the correct thing and created a list.

Privet Hawk Moth, Sphinx ligustri

Coxcomb Prominent

Garden Tiger Moth

Large Elephant Hawk Moth

Fox Moth


Privet Hawk Moth, Sphinx ligustri

Swallow Prominent

Finally - a beetle

Stag Beetle

La Boudiniere

As soon as we parked I could see plenty of Common Privet, Ligustrum vulgare in flower and I was optimistic that we would find Black Hairstreak. We did - the most worn out specimen that I have ever come across - I immediately thought "Too late"

A bit tatty

Out in the meadow a nice find - Migrant Spreadwing or Southern Emerald Damselfly, Lestes barbarous


Pearly Heaths were everywhere as were Adonis Blues


A nice stand of Pyramidal Orchids - well worth recording.

Meadow Clary, Salvia pratensis

A nice Brown Argus


So I returned to the mini bus to further investigate the Privet and I was rewarded by a fresh Black Hairstreak dropping in - result!





Lunch by the river at Lurais proved very rewarding,  two life tick dragonflies and a damselfly. First up was a Small Pincertail, Onychogomphus forcipatus sometimes known as the Green-eyed Hook-tailed Dragonfly. Second, a Yellow Clubtail, Gomphus simillimus

Small Pincertail - living up to its name

Small Pincertail

Yellow Clubtail

Finally, in the long grass on the banks of a quieter back stream, lots of Blue-eye Damselflies. Very smart, sometimes known as the Goblet-marked Damselfly.

Le  Breuil

This site was a path adjacent to a limestone quarry and a great habitat for Orchids. I managed to record Violet Limadore, Fly Orchid, Burnt Tip, Pyramidal, Bee and Monkey Orchids. Oddly enough as we started to walk along the path it rained.

Violet Limadore

Violet Limadore

Violet Limadore


Fly Orchid - nearly over - just in time!

Burnt-tip Orchid - bit of a small specimen but nice to see.

Monkey Orchid
Monkey Orchid

Monkey Orchid

Bee Orchid


Back to the hotel via the Bee Eaters at Martizay, unfortunately a long way off and then through the fields of Prung where we had previously recorded Montagu's Harrier, Stone Curlew and Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail.

That was it - it was all over, we had recorded 100 plus birds seen and heard, including Golden Oriole and Black Woodpecker. Thirty species of dragonfly and damselfly were in the log - some really good life ticks included,  nineteen species of orchid and just twenty eight species of butterfly rounded it off.


Naturetrek - everything spot on as normal.

Jason Mitchell our tour leader,  excellent - great knowledge and a talent for educating us simple ones. Great sense of humour too.

Tony Williams for allowing us to use his garden - really great experience with the moths.

Brickbats - I was going to say French toggers but I did learn the art of keeping a hide window to yourself - so no complaints



Saturday 27 May 2017

La Brenne - Samedi et Dimanche

After three days I thought that things would slow down a bit. No chance - still lots to be seen although on Sunday the temperature peaked at 33C and I started to slow down a bit instead.


Saturday 27th May

Étang Massé

A very loud Reed Warbler

Étang Foucault

Notable for the numerous nesting Blank-winged Stilts

Really pleased to record the "AC Milan" bug properly known as Striped Shield Bug, Graphosoma lineatum

During a comfort stop Jason found a Swift in the middle of the car park entrance, obviously in distress as it had lain in the full sun for some minutes. We placed it on a wall in the shade of a tree - possibly good news as when we returned half an hour later it had gone - hopefully recovered. What was surprising for everyone was just how large this bird is.

Chateau Romefort

 Another great picnic by the river topped with a great fly-by of a Black Woodpecker - lunch on lap, camera on floor. Never mind it didn't stop for a shot.

The boathouse looks quite nice....

....but no comparison with the main residence 


We visited the Bee Eater colony and plenty were home - just a long way off. Wonderful to hear their unmistakeable call.

Étang Purais

Nice to get just a bit closer to Whiskered Terns

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Four-spot Chaser

 Lizard Orchids were popping up everywhere.

At last a decent Southern White Admiral underwing shot

Sunday 28th May

Étang de la Sous

As promised a return to the Etang de la Sous, this time a pre sunrise affair to avoid all those other birders. Sod's law that today there would be a heavy mist and of course an east facing hide is not the best for a decent photograph.

Suddenly I had 9 Black-necked Grebes in front of me, what an opportunity, it was at this point I realised the best thing to do was put the camera down and admire the birds.


Finally the sun rose and I was able to record some of the activity.

Red-Crested Pochard

Red-Crested Pochard
Red-Crested Pochard








At the end of a derelict orchard we found a Woodlark which sat in this tree all the time we were present. By the way the dark red cherries that hung over the fence into the road were delicious.

Cracking Cornflowers

Marais de l'Ozance

 A search for the extremely scarce Brenne Orchid, Dactylorhiza brennensis  paid dividends


Étang Vieux

 A walk around the pond gave a Common Clubtail,  a single Western Clubtail and Variable Damselflies in good numbers.

Common Clubtail

Common Clubtail

Common Clubtail

Western Clubtail

Variable Damselfly




Terre de Picadon

Our final visit, a marshy venue and with the heat it felt like being in a sauna - very humid. We saw more Lilypad Whiteface but by the time I had deployed a longer lens they had vanished.

Broad Scarlet

Broad Scarlet

Time to call it a day and retire to the hotel for a refreshing brew.