The storm heads towards me near Chaumussay.Well, as it turned out it was the luck that missed me, not the storms. I managed to get one of my 2km squares surveyed, around Chaumussay, but I arrived at my Parc de Boussay square to be greeted by a tremendous roll of thunder and it rained enough to make surveying pointless. Even if it hadn't rained on the day, the Parc de Boussay transects were all so waterlogged from the previous days' rain I would have had to squelch my way along the routes.
A spring form Map butterfly.My best transects turned out to be slopes to the north of Chaumussay - as always, this is a very rich site - and one over the back of the valley, on a beef and dairy farm tucked away in the valley of a small stream feeding into the Claise. Here I photographed the lovely spring form Map you see above, and discovered a previously unknown (to me, at least) colony of Burnt Orchids.
Burnt Orchid.Maps are an unusual butterfly in that the spring generation is a quite different coloration to the summer generation. You would think they were different species, looking at their uppers, but on the underside they remain identical. To see the summer form, see this photo I posted some time ago.
Storm water erosion from a few days earlier above one of my transects.Burnt Orchids are small and often seem to like to grow in dampish places amongst quite long lush grass, where the soil is cool and slightly acid, such as the edge of the cattle pasture I survey along. Curiously they can also occasionally be found on dry limestone sites like l'Eperon de Murat at Ferrière-Larçon. The species must be divided genetically into a couple of ecotypes (similar to subspecies) which have developed adaptations for different types of habitat. They are not particularly common in the Touraine and Berry, although there is a concentration of records for them from the Claise Valley, and nearly 50 sites in the Brenne.
They are the very first French wild orchid species I ever saw, down in the Charente, where they are common on roadsides. You don't get a good sense of the scale in photos, but the flowers are tiny, only a few millimetres across. I think they look like little clowns in their buttoned down the front romper suits.
The storm from our place by the time I got home.Even though I only got half my survey done I was pleased to be out there, and the various orchids are always a bonus at this time of year (Monkeys, Ladys, Early Spiders and Early Purples were all out in addition to the Burnt-tips). I'm really disappointed to see that my friend Elizabeth and I are the only Anglo looking names on the list of STERF surveyors. I cannot understand why more British people don't get involved. After all, many of them have plenty of leisure time and/or have an interest in nature. Contributing to a well run citizen science project such as this is easy and a terrific way of following the seasons in your area. The project always needs more surveyors, especially in the mountains and away from the Ile de France/Paris region. The more people collecting data the better our picture of what is happening to butterfly populations, and by extension, as butterflies are good indicators of the general state of the natural environment, what is happening on a broader scale. An individual only needs to contribute a couple of hours a month of their time, but it all adds up. If you think you might like to do it, but feel you are not expert enough or have some other concern, please feel free to contact me to discuss how you might help. I can be emailed via my profile link on the right.