Wednesday, 1 July 2015

July Departures

Sometime in the second half of the month the swifts will disappear overnight. One day they are there in dozens, whistling and screaming around the roof tops. The next, it is just swallows and martins remaining. The swifts will have zoomed off to Africa, and we will miss them until they return in the late spring.

 Swifts nested in the belltower of Saint Ours church in Loches. 
The little black dots in the sky are swifts.
Carolyn has had some successes with her campaign to safeguard their nesting places in the Touraine Loire Valley. The local council at Amboise, where she lives, has agreed to put up nest boxes, and she has recorded about 30 active nest sites in the historic town this year. She also had an article published in the paper telling people about the swifts and how to help them.

They also nested in the apse of Saint Ours. 
I counted about 5 swifts entering and or leaving nest holes.
The swifts were using holes between the carved modillions supporting the cornice.
And also slipping in under the zinc behind the downpipe.
Vineyard News: According to Alexandre Monmousseau, the vines have flowered very early this year. He calculates they will start the harvest on 20 September, which is about 2 weeks early. It is 8 weeks since they have had significant rain in Vouvray.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Teaser

There are a couple of events/thoughts/things waiting to be written about.

This is one of them.
Hopefully I will get my act together and write the blog post that accompanies the photo.

Monday, 29 June 2015


It's going to be hot this week - it will probably look like this.

To all our Southern Hemisphere readers, I ain't gloating - I don't much like the heat

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Feral Water Buffalo

This feral Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis is the only one I have ever seen, and I can assure you I was not as close to it as this photo makes it look. They have a reputation for being extremely dangerous.

Water Buffalo were introduced to the floodplain country of northern Australia in the 19th century to provide meat for remote communities and other resources such as leather. When the settlements were abandoned so were the buffalo and they roamed wild, causing the spread of bovine diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellocis, and damaging wetland environments by trampling, wallowing and eating a huge quantity of vegetation. A concerted effort was made in the 1980s and 90s to eradicate them, especially from Kakadu National Park, and numbers fell dramatically but because of the terrain full eradication was not possible. However, according to the Department of the Environment's factsheet, numbers are again building. Some Aboriginal communities now depend on them for food, but they have no other natural enemies.
French Expressions: Yesterday at the market my friend Louisa described her 9 month old grandson as having cheveux blond vénitien. I knew about the Renaissance fashion for bleaching dark hair blonde, which was all the rage in both Italy and France, but I had never heard this expression used in a modern context before. When I got home I looked it up. It turns out to mean what I would call 'strawberry blonde' in English.