|NATURAL HISTORY TRAVEL
VISIT TO LA BRENNE, FRANCE
May 10th – 17th 2007
Please note that I have included the scientific names of the plants in italics on the first occasion that they are mentioned.
1.Wednesday May 9th (The Advance Party’)
1.1 Lunch stop between Verneuil and La Bretonnière Farm
Birds: Male Montagu’s Harrier, several singing Whitethroats (including one singing in an Oil seed rape crop), Cuckoo, Corn Bunting, 4 Little Grebes, Greenfinch, Linnet, Blackcap, Reed Warblers, Nightingales.
Insects: Swallowtail, Speckled Wood, 2 Small Heaths, Paper wasp nest Polistes gallicus
Other: ‘Green’ Frogs calling
Maison de la Nature
Birds:- Turtle Dove, 2 Cuckoos, Zitting Cisticola (aka Fantailed Warbler)
Butterflies: Common Blues, Grizzled Skipper, 2 Wall Browns.
2. Thursday May 10th
Preliminary visit to Rosnay Common
Birds: Cuckoo, Cirl Bunting, Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Corn Bunting, Redbacked Shrike, 2+ Garden Warblers, Stonechat.
Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small Heath, Large White, Sooty Copper, Marsh Fritillary, Southern White Admiral, Dingy Skipper (very worn), Black-veined White, Glanvilles Fritillary, Spotted Fritillary,
Moths: Clouded Buff, Common Heath
Other insects: Rose Chafers, Cardinal Beetle
Plants: Little Robin Geranium purpureum , Tongue Orchids Serapias lingua, Laxflowered Orchid Orchis laxiflora, Greenwinged Orchid Orchis morio, bramble Rubus fruticos agg. in flower, Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha
2.2 Lunchstop near Étang Vieux
Birds:- Bonelli’s Warbler, Stonechat, White Wagtail, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Tit, 2 Tree Pipits, Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler in song.
Butterflies:- Southern White Admiral, Wood White, Swallowtail, male Brimstone.
Other Insects:Broadbordered Bee Hawkmoth, Lackey Moth larvae, Broadbodied Chasers (3),
Marsh Crickets, Hairy Dragonfly
Misc: Grass Snake
Plants:- Autumn Crocus Colchicum autumnale, Narrowleaved Lungwort Pulmonaria angustifolia, Bluegreen Water Speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica.
2.3‘Large Copper’ site at Oince north of St. Gemme
Butterflies: Brimstone laying on Alder Buckthorn, Sooty Copper, Small Heaths, Dingy Skipper,
Small Copper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Green Hairstreak.
Plants: Changing Forgetmenot Myosotis discolor.
3. Friday May 11th
windy, broken cloud, some sun
3.1 Étang de Bernadoux
Birds:- Dark Kite, Turtle Doves, Short-toed Eagle, Cuckoo, Zitting Cisticola, Whitethroat, Blackcap,
Grey Heron, Nightingale, Whiskered Tern, Mute Swan, dead Gull, Garden Warbler, Melodious Warbler.
Insects:- Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Blackveined White, Southern White Admiral, Field Crickets, Small Eggar larval tent.
Plants:- Pale Dog Violet Viola lactea, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Goatsbeard Tragopogon pratense, Milkwort Polygala vulgaris, Narrow-leaved Water Dropwort Oenanthe silaifolia,
Sulphur Clover Trifolium ochroleucon, Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum, Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa, Field Pansy Viola arvensis, Small-flowered Catchfly Silene gallica.
3.2 Étang Massé
Nests of Grey Herons and Cormorants, Great Crested Grebe, pair of Tufted Duck, Little Egret, 4 Blackcaps together, 3 Dark Kites.
3 Hoopoes squabbling nearby and a dead Coypu on the road.
3.3 Lunch stop at La Maison du Parc
Insects:- Small Copper, 2 Southern White Admirals, Swallowtail, one Four-spotted and many Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies, Spindle Ermine moth larval webs, Holly Blue.
Birds:- Nightingale, Whitethroat, Cirl Bunting, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Great Crested grebes building a nest, ducklings of ?Gadwall, Kingfisher over pond by park HQ, Grey Heron, Nightingale, Wren, pair of Blackheaded Gulls, Purple Heron, pair of Tufted Duck, Cuckoo, White Wagtail, Woodlark, Coot family, Hoopoe eating a caterpillar.
Plants:- Downy Oak Quercus pubescens, Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis,
Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus in flower.
Other:- Roe Deer, 3 Pond Tortoises.
Gabriau windy evening.
25+ Mute Swans, pair of Red-crested Pochard, many pairs of Pochard, 15+ Gadwall,
male Garganey, pair of Blacknecked Grebe.
Nearby: 2 mangy Donkeys (one with 2 heads), at least 12 Cattle Egrets with ponies, Grey Heron.
4. Saturday May 12th
Le Blanc 2 Dark Kites seen on the road to Le Blanc, Serin, Blackbird, Black Redstart in the town
Mérigny, Rives and the Anglin valley
Plants: Monkey Orchid Orchis simia, Swallow-wort Vincetoxicum hirundinea (poisonous green/yellow plant), the Large Arum Arum italicum, Crosswort Cruciata laevipes, Narrow-leaved Helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia, Twayblade Listera ovata, Green Hellebore Helleborus viridis, Nottingham Catchfly Silene nutans, Blue Bugle Ajuga genevensis, Rockrose Helianthemum nummularium, Black Knapweed Centaurea nigra, Meadow Clary Salvia pratense, Carthusian Pink Dianthus carthusianorum, Tassel Hyacinth Muscari comosa, Cowslips Primula veris, Field Eryngo Eryngium campestre, Lizard Orchids Himantoglossum hircinum, Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea, Horseshoe Vetch Hippocrepis comosa, Dogwood Cornus sanguinea, White Bryony Brionia dioica, Downy Oak, Irish Spurge Euphorbia hiberna, Common Gromwell Lithospermum officinale,, Hautbois Strawberry Fragaria moschata, Old Man’s beard Clematis vitalba, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Violet Bird’s Nest Limodorum abortivum, Burnt Orchid Orchis ustulata, White and Bladder Campion Silene dioica and vulgaris, Mugwort Artemesia vulgaris, Bastard Balm Melittis melissophyllum, Wood Avens Geum urbanum, White Deadnettle Lamium album, Globularia.
Insects:- Broadbodied Bee Hawkmoth, Adonis Blue, Pale or Berger’s Clouded Yellow,
Froghopper Cercopis vulnerata, a Scorpion Fly, Knapweed Fritillary, Grizzled Skipper, Wood White, Wall Brown, Speckled Yellow moth, Small White, Red Admiral, Scarce Swallowtail, Beautiful Demoiselle Damselfly, Nomada wasp, Short-tailed Blue, Clouded Buff moth, Common Blue, Southern White Admiral, Green-veined White
Birds:- Cuckoo, Cirl Bunting, Melodious Warbler, Golden Oriole,
Others: Mustelid poo (?Beech Marten)
Stop beside road from Fournieux to Lurais
Plants:- Blue Gromwell Lithospermum purpurocaerulea, masses of Common Broomrape Orobanche minor on clover, Narrow leaved lungwort Pulmonaria angustifolia, Horseshoe Vetch, Rockrose, Dogwood, Bracken, Dropwort Filipendula vulgaris.
Insects:- Violet (or Weaver’s ) Fritillary, Longhorned Bee Eucera longicornis, Broadbordered Bee Hawkmoth, Dragonfly Gomphus vulgatus, Large White, Wood White, Wall Brown,
Birds:- Garden Warbler, Melodious Warbler, large holes possibly Black Woodpecker? In telegraph pole.
Others:- Wall Lizard.
Bee-Eater nest site near Néons-sur-Creuse
Birds:- Bee-Eaters! Wow! About 30 hawking, perching, calling
Plants:- Purple Toothwort Lathraea squamaria, Hogweed Heracleum spondylium,,
Butterbur Petasites hybridus.
Tournon St Martin
Common Sandpiper beside the river Creuse.
4.7 Forêt de Preuilly
Solomon’s Seal Polygonatum multiflorum
4.8 Limestone workings near Obterre
Butterflies:- Adonis Blue, Pearly Heath, Violet (Weaver’s)Fritillary
Plants:- Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes, Military Orchids Orchis militaris , Monkey Orchid, Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea, the mauve, stemless composite Carduncellus mitissimus, Horseshoe Vetch, Basil-Thyme Acinos arvensis.
4.9 Return journey Paulnay-Mézières
Birds:- Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard
5. Sunday May 13th
cloudy with sunny spells, very windy, Pony randonnée from Mézières.
Birds:- Cuckoo, Fantailed Warbler, Turtle Doves, Nightingale, Whitethroat, Skylark, Golden Oriole,
Melodious warbler, Garden Warbler, Night Heron, Chaffinch , family of Longtailed Tits,
Greenfinch (male), Tree pipit, Great Egret, Stonechat, Redbacked Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Mistle
Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Black-necked Grebe, Marsh harrier, 6 Black-winged Stilts, Purple
Butterflies: Small Copper, Wall Brown, 3 Southern White Admirals.
Cistude Hide (closed for lunch!)
Lunchstop between Gabrière and Le Temple
Birds:- Green Woodpecker
Circular walk from Le Temple
Birds:- Golden Oriole, Blackcap, Nightingale, Blue Tits, Grey Heron, Tree Pipit, Short-toed Eagle, Redbacked Shrike, Skylark, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, 2 pairs of Honey Buzzards (just arrived on their summer migration), Bonelli’s warbler, Greatspotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Hoopoe (seen by Roy!) and 2 others, Lapwing, 2 Little Egrets, Purple and Grey Herons, several pairs of Tufted Duck, Short-toed Treecreeper, Nightingale, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Turtle Dove, Longtailed Tits, young Robins, cattle being herded by 6-8 Cattle Egrets.
Butterflies and Moths: Mullein Moth larvae, Red Admirals, Greenveined White, many Speckled Woods, Large Skipper, Sooty Copper, Small Heath, Orange Tip (male), an unidentified Hairstreak up in an oak tree, Orange Tip larvae on Garlic Mustard.
Dragonflies:- Broadbodied Chaser, Emerald Damselfly, Crocothemis erythraea (usually very red all over, but these were newly emerged and were rusty brown), Norfolk (Green-eyed) Hawker, Bluetailed Damselflies.
Other Insects: Red and black beetle Trichodes alvearius,
Other animals: dead Slowworm, Fox (seen by Philip), 2 Wall Lizards, including one with a very green belly.
Plants:- Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor, many Greater Butterfly Orchids on the woodland edge, Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata, Honeysuckle in flower Lonicera periclymenum, Wood Stitchwort Stellaria nemorum, the little toadflax like plant Anarrhinum bellidifolium, Sulphur Clover, Heath Speedwell Veronica officinalis, Hairy Tare Vicia hirsuta,
Hairy Birdsfoot Trefoil Lotus suaveolens.
6. Monday May 14th clear cool start, becoming cloudy with thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Near Cistude Hide 6am
2 Water Rails, 2 Black Woodpeckers
Moths in the light trap at the Cistude Hide:
6 Clouded Buff,
1 Muslin (male)
5 Large Elephant hawkmoth
1 Eyed Hawkmoth
8 Straw Dot
1 Flame Shoulder
8 Treble Lines
9 Reed leopard (several – this is a very rare moth in the UK)
1 Fox Moth
2 Satin Wave
1 China mark moth Parapoynx stagnata
1 White Ermine
5 Heart and Dart
1 Marbled Minor type
1 Common Swift
1 Coxcomb Prominent
2 Common Wainscot
1 Porter’s Rustic (rare immigrant in the UK)
1 Great Prominent
1 Tiger moth Hyphoraia aulica (not in UK)
micro Donacaula forficella
6.2 Cistude Hide 10am
Sedge Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Whitethroat, Moorhen, Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe with young of several sizes, Grey heron, Blackheaded gulls
And Pond Tortoises
Lunch stop by River Creuse nr St Ciron with wonderful views of the chateau.
10+ Sand Martins, c4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Cormorants flying over, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Blackcaps everywhere.
Also: several Banded Agrion damselflies.
Plants in very colourful field next to picnic site Spreading Bellflower Campanula patula, Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, Wild radish, Changing Forget-me-not Myosotis discolor, Common Vetch Vicia sativa, Hairy Tare Vicia hirsuta, masses of Horsetail Equisetum sp, Poppies, Soapwort Saponaria officinalis, Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg., Dock Rumex obtusifolius, Sow thistle Sonchus asper, Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium, Sorrell Rumex acetosa.
Rosnay Common no Woodchat Shrike on the way.
Butterflies and Moths: Small Bloodvein Moth, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Wall Browns, Blackveined White, Common Blue (a brown female), Burnet Companion Moth, Marsh Fritillary, spiky black Fritillary larvae, Speckled Yellow Moth, Southern White Admiral, Sooty Coppers, Knapweed Fritillary and male and female Spotted Fritillaries.
Other Insects: Rose Chafer, Black and red Froghoppers ( ), Hornet, Broadbodied Chaser Dragonfly, Longhorned bee Eucera longicornis.
Plants: Asphodels Asphodelus albus, Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, masses of Tongue and Laxflowered Orchids, Smallflowered Catchfly, Pale Flax Linum bienne, Greenwinged orchid, Bramble in full bloom, very lush plants of Devilsbit Scabious Succisa pratensis, especially in the area where the Marsh Fritillaries were seen.
‘Brenne’ Orchid site north of Mézières
at least 5 spikes of the ‘Brenne’orchid Dactylorhiza elata var brennensis (some people make it a separate species), Twayblades, Meadow Thistle, Dragon’s Teeth Tetragonolobus maritimus, Saw sedge.
Marsh Crickets everywhere, 2 or 3 Cuckoos, plenty of Frogs.
Further on along the road in a nearby field, we saw Dyers Greenweed Genista tinctoria, Lesser Water Plantain Baldellia ranunculoides, Yellow Loosestrife Lysimachia vulgaris, Gipsywort Lycopus europaeus, Looseflowered Orchid Orchis laxiflora, 3 Cuckoos and more calling Green Frogs.
Meal out in the restaurant at Gabrière
Whimbrel seen en route.
Nightjar site after meal at Gabrière
Several Nightjars, Roe deer calling, Buzzard calling, Tawny Owl, Natterjack Toads churring, Tree Frogs and Marsh Frogs.
7. Tuesday May 15th beautiful misty dawn, fine warm morning clouding over later am.
Étang Vieux at 6am
Birds: 2 Bitterns booming (one at Étang Vieux, one at Étang Neuf), Yellowhammer, Water Rail, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Bonelli’s Warbler (very nice to compare the songs together), 2 Marsh Harriers, Great Crested grebe, 2 Tree pipits, Blue Tits at a nest site, Savi’s and Grasshopper Warblers (very similar but different reeling songs – tricky!)Reed Warblers, Cirl Bunting, Redbacked Shrike.
Plants: Common Gromwell, Common Spotted Dactylorhiza fuchsii and Early Marsh Orchids Dactylorhiza incarnata, Tall Broomrape Orobanche elatior parasitic on Broom (the original Broom—Rape).
Mammals: Wild Boar diggings in several places especially in the wet track on the way back to the bus; Roe buck calling, female Red Deer.
Birds: Whiskered Terns feeding over lake, Dark Kite, 2 Woodlark in song, Cirl Bunting, Melodious and Garden Warblers, Whitethroats, Blackcaps, young Chaffinches in the oak wood, Spotted Flycatchers, Short-toed Treecreeper.
Purple Herons at their nests, building, breaking sticks off dead birch across the lake, arguing, some sitting on their nests – a great spectacle!
Butterflies/Moths: Sooty Copper males and females, Southern White Admirals including a female egglaying on honeysuckle, 2 Knapweed Fritillary, Glanville’s Fritillary, Small Heath, Wall Browns, Speckled Woods, Pine Processionary Moth cobwebby tents on the pine trees.
Plants: Yellow Rattle, Blue Bugle, Tongue Orchid, Greenwinged orchids going over including pink ones, Laxflowered Orchid, Hairy Birdsfoot Trefoil,White Campion, Lady’s Smock Cardamine pratense.
Lingé and La Touche Reserve
One Night Heron in St Michel-en-Brenne sitting on the railings beside a large house
A Hare seen from the road towards Lingé.
Birds: Fantailed warbler, Grey Heron (aka the BSH) Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Mistle thrush, Purple heron.
Plants: Crested Cowwheat Melampyrum cristatum, Woolly Thistle Cirsium eriophorum.
Insects: male Brimstone butterfly, Common Blue, Blackveined White, Common Heath Moth.
And a Hedgehog which we thought was sick but it managed to scuttle off before we returned!
Small fishing lake near Lingé on way home
Redshanks, 6+ Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank.
Cistude Hide – back at La Maison de la Nature
A pond tortoise on her way to lay eggs in the field opposite, captured on road to prevent her being run over, marked, weighed, measured and registered by Turtle Zoe, the student running the Pond Tortoise recording scheme. Capably cuddled by Margaret and Sarah.
8. Wednesday May 16th grey and rainy
Étangs Foucault in hide
Large flock of bird watchers from Guildford RSPB, mainly non-breeders, strident territorial calls carry a great distance, tend to huddle together when threatened. We witnessed the display for a good half an hour until the dominant male moved away and the others followed.
Birds: Little Egret, Spotted Flycatcher, nice but distant view of Garganey, Whiskered terns, Swallows taking mud for nests, lovely view of a Hoopoe on a distant hide.
3 separate Redbacked Shrikes, Great White Heron (Great Egret), Hoopoe.
St Sulpice in the Forêt de Lancosme beautiful site with chapel and sacred spring dedicated to St Sulpice who was struck down there by a bolt of lightning.
Birds: Honey Buzzard soaring and calling, female Cuckoo giving bubbling call, Blackcap and Longtailed tits, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinches, Golden Orioles.
Butterflies/Moths: Heath Fritillary larva on Cowwheat, Speckled yellow Moth, Bagworm moth pupa, Small Pearlbordered Fritillary butterfly.
Plants: Spiked Rampion Phyteuma spicata , one with a crab spider on it, Common Spotted Orchid, Asphodels.
8.4 Track through the Forêt de Lancosme
Monkey Orchids, Autumn Crocus, Greater Butterfly Orchids, Man Orchids Aceras anthropophorum.
Migne tea/coffee stop at Nadia’s hotel and walk through woods
A very dark 4-spotted Chaser Dragonfly in the long grass (too wet and cool for it to fly!), Lizard orchid, Greater Spotted Woodpecker young in nest in tree, Hornbeam coppice, 2 newly emerged Cream-spot Tiger Moths, a running frog, a BBB (continuing the love of acronyms – a broken beer bottle – though to be fair we saw very little litter.
9. Thursday May 17th very wet start! Improved during the morning. Not much consolation for motorcyclists!
Back to sunny England – or just as far as Bergerac for the lucky customers of Flybe and further on to The Dordogne for the lucky ones!
346 Munden’s Lane,
Dorset DT9 5HU
Butterflies recorded on the Brenne visit May 10th – 17th 2007
Wall Brown Pearly Heath
Speckled Wood Small Heath
Grizzled Skipper Large Skipper
Dingy Skipper Green Hairstreak
Short-tailed Blue Adonis Blue
Holly Blue Common Blue
Sooty Copper Small Copper
Purple Hairstreak unid Hairstreak not green
Pale Clouded Yellow possibly Berger’s Brimstone
Small White Large White
Green-veined White Orange Tip
Wood White Duke of Burgundy
Swallowtail Scarce Swallowtail
Southern White Admiral Red Admiral
Peacock Heath Fritillary larva
Marsh Fritillary Spotted Fritillary
Small Pearlbordered Fritillary Weaver’s (or Violet) Fritillary
Knapweed Fritillary Glanville’s Fritillary
Orchid species recorded
Narrow-leaved Helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia
Twayblade Listera ovata
Tongue orchid Serapias lingua
Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea
Greenwinged orchid Orchis morio
Looseflowered Orchid Orchis laxiflora
Burnt Tip Orchid Orchis ustulata
Monkey Orchid Orchis simia
Military Orchid Orchis militaris
Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha
Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata
‘Brenne’ Orchid Dactylorhiza elata var. brennensis
Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea
Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum
Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum
Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes
Violet Bird’s Nest Limodorum abortivum