Friday, 3 January 2014

The Nature of January in the Touraine Loire Valley

If it snows, take a walk and see what else is around, leaving clues to their visit. 
These tracks belong to a hare.
Statistically January is the month which has the most rainy days (although not the wettest month on average). Expect the low temperatures to be around 2°C and the highs to be under 10°C. It is usually one of the least sunny months, with well under 100 hours of sunshine.

 Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans is a common winter flowering plant. Look for it on waste ground, banks, roadsides and beside streams. This one was photographed on the chateau ramparts near the town water storage tank in Preuilly. As its scientific name suggests, it is scented.
Carolyn and Tim, and Pauline and Tim have alerted me to the France wide Garden Bird (Oiseaux des Jardins) Count which is happening this month. This is a great citizen science project that anyone who is in France on the weekend of 25-26 January can participate in. The website for entering your data is in French of course, but you will find it easy to understand. You need to register your garden, choose a day to do your survey and away you go. Use the internet to get the names in French for bird species if you aren't already familiar with them. It won't take up much time, but each contribution of data is valuable for the number crunching scientists behind the survey. If you have any questions, contact Carolyn or Pauline via their websites. I am sure they will be delighted to help you get involved.

Lapwing gather in winter feeding flocks on arable land. They are the farmer's friend, eating many invertebrates living in the crops and pasture and helping to control pest species.
The native ferns here are all entirely hardy. This patch of Rustyback Ceterach officinarum on an old wall had been exposed to temperatures below -20°C only a few days earlier. At this time of year ferns are often the botanical highlight of a walk along country lanes or forest tracks.
A la cuisine hier: Garbure and mini clafoutis, both from the freezer. Simon baked potatoes in the wood stove for lunch.


william said...

in the local area (preuilly)we call this birds on the picture " vanneau" ...

Susan said...

William: yes, their full French name is vanneau huppé, because of the wispy feathers on their head.

chm said...

It seems to me that the scientific name of the Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus, comes from Vanneau, the French vernacular name of the bird, as William said. According to the bird got its name in French because the sound of its flapping wings is reminiscent of the sound the winnowing basket (van) makes at the hand of the winnower.

"Ses ailes larges et arrondies sont sombres dessus et blanches dessous. Leur battement rapide produit un son très particulier qui rappelle le bruit que fait le van (sorte de grand tamis) dans les mains du vanneur, d'où son nom de vanneau." Si non è vero, è ben trovato!

Susan said...

chm: I'm sure you are right and there is a connection between the names.

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