Friday, 1 June 2012

Wildlife Watching in the Claise Valley in June

If you want a botanical challenge, June is the month you can start collecting Sedge seeds and identifying them using a good field guide, such as Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and north-western Europe by Francis Rose. Many sedges are wetland species or plants of waterlogged places, and June is a good month to visit the étangs in the Foret de Preuilly to see many other plants at their best and in flower.

Large Skipper butterfly on Field Scabious.
On the orchid front, the Fragrant Orchids and the Lesser Butterfly Orchids will be flowering. On the sites where they occur they can be seen in great numbers, but both species are quite localised.

The very gregarious Marbled White butterfly will be flying on sunny calcareous grasslands, taking advantage of all the flowers and the warm conditions. Where you see one, you will see several. The caterpillars feed on several species of grass and this is one of the most common butterflies in France.

Heath Fritillary butterfly on Fragrant Orchid.
Also worth keeping an eye out for on the calcareous sites, especially if there is Wild Oregano invading rank grass, is a much rarer butterfly, the Large Blue. Although it is holding its own here, it is closely monitored because its very particular and extraordinary lifestyle makes it vulnerable to environmental changes. Here in Preuilly, for instance, a breeding site has recently been ploughed up and destroyed.

June is the month you can see the Hairstreak butterflies that are associated with oak. They have a very brief flight period, and spend a lot of time high up in the oak trees. However if you are in the right place at the right time they can be seen nectaring at bramble flowers on the forest fringe or drinking from a puddle near a large Holm Oak in the grounds of the Chateau of Chenonceau.

It's not just butterflies that will catch your attention in June either. Some of the day flying moths, such as the Burnets, are gorgeous. Once again, mostly to be seen on the calcareous grasslands. They are particularly attracted to flowers like brambles and scabious.

Blue Featherleg damselflies.
Look out for big flies such as the predatory Robberflies, and flower loving Hoverflies. They are fun to watch and big enough to make good photographic subjects.

Everywhere you look in June there will be something of interest in the forests and prairies.

5 comments:

  1. More fantastic pics. I'll be sure to look out for them!

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  2. My book was delivered a couple of weeks ago but don't test me on it!

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  3. Love reading your blog. I went to Chenonceau and a few other castles two years ago right around this time of year. Loved it!!!! I teach First Grade in Illinois USA and Chenonceau is featured in a book about bridges that I use. I had never heard of it and then it was to be a stop on the chartered trip!!!!! My question is "What are the white lines on the grass in you banner photo??? - Suzan

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  4. Anon - the white lines are nothing esoteric: they are the concrete surround of our local mini-golf course!

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  5. Annie: Well you will be able to start with all those pesky Campanulas :-)

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