and it was an article about the new plans for the site that we wrote about here as part of the post on Sunday 20th October.
So whilst I took advantage of the "drier" weather to scalp the areas of grass we tread most...
Pauline translated and summarised the article.....
La Nouvelle République, 17 novembre 2013
L'éperon Murat, warning, fragile!
It is one of two sensitive natural areas in the Loches area.
L'éperon Murat (the Murat Spur), at Ferrière-Larçon, benefits from protection which is entering a new phase.
About a hundred sheep are pastured on the Murat Spur, where the Larçon joins the Brignon. This is one of the headline actions undertaken for a decade aimed at preserving this sensitive natural environment (1).
The objective is simple: the animals participate in the maintenance of the dry grassland of this promontory, an environment which has become rare in the region (2).
Protection of the Murat Spur, act II.
The Conservatoire d'espaces naturels (CEN) of the Centre region is studying a management plan which is nearing completion. At Ferrière-Larçon a couple of weeks ago, the assocation made public the new plan for the next ten years. In broad outline, the planned actions are much the same as those to date.
The extensive sheep pasture, which was re-established in 2005, will continue, in collaboration with the same farmer, Pascale Jacquet from La Celle-Guénand.
The sheep-farmer has the use of the land rent-free,
In return he must follow a list of exact duties.
"I am not from a farming background", explains M. Jacquet, who practises "agriculture raisonnée" [minimum intervention agriculture #] and sells direct from the farm.
"When I wanted to go into sheep, I didn't have room. So I accepted the proposal. I apply something very like the system of transhumance in the mountains."
Of his 250 ewes, between 30 and 100 are thus pastured on the Murat Spur.
"It's typical of what we're trying to do in environments formerly maintained by farmers and which, difficult to get to, are no longer of interest for traditional farming", explains Rolland Paillat, scientific study officer at CEN and principal author of the 2014-2023 management plan.
[It is also similar to the principle of the "Flying Flocks" and other conservation grazing as used by The Wildlife Trusts and others in the UK.]
|A more overgrown area|
The restoration of the grassland will therefore continue.
This will happen notably by the removal of numerous pine trees which will give air and space for other plant species. In particular, the eight protected plant species (all orchids) and the twelve other regionally uncommon species, such as the Summer Pheasant's Eye [Adonis aestivalis] Adonis goutte-de-sang which the Murat Spur is home to.
That is without mentioning the varied fauna which lives in the 31.5 hectares of the site, owned by the conseil général.
|The Junipers, that can be seen behind the oak and the orchids [ Cephalanthera sp.] |
in this picture, are encroaching quite rapidly in some places... the sheep don't eat it!
In all, over the next ten years, 250,000 € is expected to be invested to safeguard the Murat Spur.
(1) With Les Prairies du Roi on the outskirts of Loches, it is one of two Sensitive Natural Spaces in the Loches area.Facts
(2) Mainly financed by the Region and the conseil général.
The Murat Spur is one kilometre south of Ferrière-Larçon, along the D50.
31.5 ha acquired by the conseil général
Types of environment...
Chalky dry grassland, oak woodland (pubescent and sessile), heathland...
|A close up of the turf.|
More than 360 plant species, including eight regionally protected species (Man Orchid, three Cephalantheras: rubra, longifolia and grandiflora, Small Spider Orchid, Pyrenean fragrant orchid, Violet Limodore, Burnt Orchid and Pyramidal Orchid).
Nationally protected: Large Blue butterfly, Western Whip snake, Western Green lizard. Also nine species of bat, which will be the object of particular attention in the new management plan. This is notably to preserve their hibernation hollows.
The maintenance of the ripisylve* of the Larçon will also be an objective of the management plan.
[Links in the above three sections go to Loire Valley Nature.]
The site is open to the public (sic).
Two organised visits take place annually by CEN on the theme of orchids.
(*Riparian forest = natural woodlands beside watercourses)
(# Similar ideals to the Wholesome Food Association's rules)
Five more hectares...
A particular effort will focus on the hillside of Montaugon, a plot of a little less than five hectares recently acquired by the conseil général.
"It is an environment similar to the Murat Spur, about 500m away as the crow flies, which has long been abandoned. The first tree-felling work has started", Rolland Paillat from CEN commented.
The full article is here...
Now some more pictures from L'éperon Murat...
|Hybrid Lady Orchid [possibly Lady x Man]|
|Milkwort thriving in the short turf left by the sheep.|
|Variations on Spider Orchids|
|A couple of 'hoppers|
|A pale Green-winged Orchid|
CRANE UPDATE: Cranes on weather radar!
Follow this link to see the migration of the cranes on the 13th of November...
showing up on the Rain Radar on Meteo60 [http://www.meteo60.fr/]...
32,700 Cranes left Lac du Der in the space of around 4 hours... starting at 8AM.
There are three weather radar clips on the entry for the 13th...
each showing various quantities of birds.
It would seem that some reached Gallocanta in Spain the following day...
their count went from 14,000 in the morning of the 14th to 39,000 by the evening!!
Not counting the 28 500 that remain at Lac du Der...
there are still over 50,000 in North Germany that are still on passage!!