Friday 6 May 2011

La Maloterie

La Maloterie is a farm in the Brenne owned by Nick and Claire Freeman. They are in the process of doing up each of the buildings in turn and creating various holiday accommodation choices. At the moment only the chambres d'hôte (bed and breakfast) section is complete, but in time there will be gîtes (self-catering) and even a campground.

Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe
(le Grand Damier in French)
The Brenne is an area dominated by small scale agriculture, especially fish ponds (étangs), just to the east of us. It has become a very well known destination for nature tourism. During the summer the carparks of the many birdwatching hides will be heaving with British, Dutch and French birdwatchers and their vehicles. There are many beautiful walks through woodland and along the edges of the étangs.

Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa females.
(La Libellule déprimée)
Birds are not the only thing to look out for in the Brenne though. There are many species of orchids, butterflies and dragonflies and more and more people who have a wider and more rounded interest in nature are coming to see what the place has to offer.

This super camouflaged Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
female was resting where some Wild Boar had been rooting.
(La Mégère in French.)
Nick and I have been working on developing a nature walk for La Maloterie, and so once a month I go over there and do an afternoon's surveying. The property is primarily small lush fields of damp improved pasture used for cutting hay in the spring and summer and grazing in the autumn and winter. It's all very low intensity, and because each field is surrounded by hedges, and native wildflowers are allowed to thrive in amongst the pasture, you can have some wonderful wildlife encounters. I am mainly surveying for insects, but Nick often sees Roe Deer and Wild Boar in the fields.

Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata female.
(La libellule à quatre taches).
They get two species of Oil Beetle and Green Tiger Beetles - all becoming rare and declining in the UK. On our round earlier this week we saw two species of Fritillary butterfly, Scarce Swallowtails and Southern White Admiral. Like the beetles, these species either don't occur at all in Britain, or are extremely rare. Because it was a rather overcast day (it was the day it rained!) we were also treated to some fantastically close views of resting dragonflies.

Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta
(Le Sylvain azuré).
I'm going to enjoy my regular visits to this peaceful and beautiful farm and hope they get lots of nature loving visitors staying there. I've created a Flickr set to show people what they might get to see.



chm said...

Just love your new header! I have a very indiscreet question: did the melt down occur before or after the earthquake?

The Brenne seems to be an island of peace and quiet where you can enjoy what is left of wildlife. Your photos are fab as usual.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Simon--love the new header! A touch of Dali or just the heat ;-) ??


Simon said...

oh no!!! I knew making it out of chocolate was a mistake

Emm said...

That Southern White Admiral is just beautiful. I am so impressed with those close-up picutres, all of them -- they're very good.

Susan said...

Thanks Emm and CHM. Because it was an overcast day, many things 'posed' for several minutes and allowed us to get right up close - makes photography easy.

chm said...

Susan, you don't seem to take into account the art of the photographer and that is unfair.

Susan said...

Well, that's very kind of you CHM, but I'm just a point and shooter.

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