Wednesday, 9 November 2016

It was an increasingly long, hot Summer!!

Well..
it is November now... and we haven't posted for four and a half months....
it is difficult to really know where to begin...
so, being 'Bwitsh', I will start with a cuppa and mention the weather....
it had been an increasingly long, hot Summer...
everything is parched...
we had a record temperature of 41.6 Centigrade on the 24th August...
and any rain has been totally negligible.... and at the wrong time of day....
which meant that it evaporated off before it could do any good.
And that lack of rain continued into the middle of October...
which then turned colder... but not necessarily wetter...
the end of October up to last weekend we had 40mm in total....
we can't be more specific than that...
as something seems to have glued up the rocker in the raingauge...
hmmph! Spiders.... or a mason bee....?
The total above is from the "analogue" gauge... the ground just swallowed it....
two days after the last rainfall and veggies pulled out of the ground were dry!
We haven't yet been round the pré, but out there.... in mid-October....
there were cracks in the soil that were around 30mm wide and 20cm deep...
the millstream hasn't changed height, nor has it gone cloudy.

The Norway Maples by the Aigronne a few days ago....
....and the potager as day breaks at the beginning of October!
So... onto the wildlife....
The Barn Owls raised at least one owlet... without a camera inside the box, it is impossible to know with certainty...
the eggs hatch at intervals...and they fledge the same.
We are basing the count on the "one" we have records of on video...
our only hesitation being that "the one fledgling" stayed at the nestbox for rather a long time!!


This is the only picture that shows more than two owls at the same time!
Our presumption is that the fledgling is the middle one....

All the usual suspects were around... Swallows, Black Redstarts, Wrens, Tits [asst'd.], Stonechats, Warblers, Woodpeckers, Moorhens, etcetera...
the Swallows appear to have managed three broods this short Summer... as have the Wrens...
a pair of Great Tits didn't read the nestbox guide... and used a deep, open-fronted box destined for other species.

Look, would you please read the  manual!!

With the felling of the poplar plantation that bordered our verger, we lost the close proximity of the Golden Oriole... we heard them regularly, but distant.
However, our Turtle Doves made it back across the Mediterranean!!



Welcome back!

Despite the soggy... nay, sodden, Winter and Spring this year, the Aigronne and the millstream have become sparklin'ly clear and the weed has managed to grow properly.
We've been graced by bountiful numbers of dragons and damsels...

A female Western Spectre dragonfly... possibly our dullest insect raptor...
and a brighter, female Migrant Hawker [I think....?]
And one of our Beautiful Damselflies

and, having been loaned Martin's marvellous moth trap last year, we invested in a new, portable one ourselves... more from that in a later post...
but we've run it four times at approximately monthly intervals and found fascinating and beautiful moths and other insects....
the most numerous being the caddisflies... the larvae of which will be food for the aquatic predators...
setting up close to the millstream has also snared water boatmen, "may"flies, midges of all types and aquatic beetles.
You will have to wait for the wondrous moths... but here is a very small sample of "the other insects"...

Eight, on the outside identical, ground beetles*, two other small beetles and a micro-moth....
.... a tiny leafhopper.... 4 or 5 millimetres long....
....and one of the ichneumons... possibly an Ophion species*....
along with a small caddis fly and a little rove beetle!!
These are all interesting bycatch from the moth trap and shows the diversity of insect types.
* These have been identified... see Susan's comment.

On the mammal front we've been visited by martens, deer, stoats and hedgehogs....
the "pieges photographiques" showing us all but the Stoat, which has now been seen twice from the bedroom window....
just on the other side of the bridge. Both times, viewed going the same way... seems to indicate a waterside patrol...
probably after our Watervoles and the Moorhen chicks.
Baron has caught some Yellow-necked mice....according to Faune Touraine they don't exist here...
or didn't until we supplied photographic evidence!!

This is a marten... probably a Fouine or Beech Marten...
investigating a hole carved by a woodpecker...
and, no, it isn't this light at 3.46am at the beginning of September...
I have "inverted" the picture to make it easier on the eye!
The pré is now reasonably wooded in the intended places... but with more work to do yet...
however, the corridors for the wildlife are established...
though sadly, locally, many more are being lost as local farmers enlarge their fields...
or remove them to allow ploughing closer to the edge.
So... that is the state of Pré at the moment...

4 comments:

Susan said...

Yes, female Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta.

The ground beetles are Harpalus sp, very common on dry agricultural land (and in my veggie garden).

The Ichneumon is a sickle wasp Opheltes glaucopterus. The diagnostics are the 'oreolet' (tiny cell in the middle of the wing), tinted wings and the dark tip to the abdomen plus dark sides to the thorax. Ophion do not have the oreolet (and I think none have dark thoraxes or tinted wings -- but don't quote me on that). O. glaucopterus preys on Cimbicidae sawfly (like the Large Alder Sawfly we found last year).

LaPré DelaForge said...

Thank you for that, Susan....
the female Migrant did NOT look anything like the picture in D&L...
but it was the only one that came anywhere near!!
I'll alter the comment on the last insect picture so that peoples look at your comment.
Now I have my hiatus out of the way, I am hopefully going to be blogging more!!

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

We had a similar summer with similar problems of drought and heat. I am glad your owls are doing well. We have noticed the fields enlarging here and small patches of woodland being nibbled year by year until they exist no more. Amelia

LaPré DelaForge said...

Amelia... yes, the corridor removal and loss of woodlands is terriblr for wildlife....but agriculturalists of all sorts don't seem to care!!
When I win the EuroMillions, I'll buy the valley!! And then try and find someone to farm it to my regime.... the operative word being TRY!