Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Butterfly Atlas - August Update

Last week saw us up near Assay again for the August stage of the Butterfly Atlas project (STERF).

Each month Colin provides invaluable help with his skilful camera work, whilst I fill in the required details, clipboard in hand.  In fact I would not have been able to complete the survey without his photographs to assist with identification. I'm not very good at naming butterflies flying past and then landing some metres away but his camera lens has been able to pick out the subjects on my behalf.

Here are some of his August beauties....

The Speckled Wood..


The small white ....  or is it the large white??

A lovely Provencal Short-tailed Blue...

The Gatekeeper

 And finally my photographic contribution to the day.... Chicory!!

 I guess I'm not cut out for moving subjects!!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Macroglossum stellatarum again !!!

Yesterday when we visited the Château at Rivau in one of the flower bed areas I came across the Humming Bird Hawk Moth feeding furiously on the dahlias.

 I could not resist and I promise it will be the last time.... For this year anyway!!!


As a reminder its wing speed is around 85 beats per second. I think it is incredible and just love capturing it frozen in time.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Chateau at Rivau and its fairy tale gardens

As my daughter is staying with us we took a trip to the Chateau at Rivau, about 15 kilometres north of Braye.

The chateau dates from the 13th and 15th centuries and was built by the Beauvau family who were related to the kings of France. Recent work allows visitors to see the site as it was back in the 15th century.

There are five rooms within the chateau open to the public and one of these houses an international collection of antique musical instruments, some of which visitors are allowed to handle and play.

The Royal Stables now house a skilfully projected history of royal horses and horses of myth and legend.

The gardens were just wonderful. Four hundred species of scented roses have made Le Rivau "the French Conservatory of fragrant roses".

Huge vegetables grow in the potager of Gargantua and I have a feeling it may have set Colin thinking.....

 Then it was on to the Fairy Tale gardens.....


If you look closely you can see Rapunzel letting down her hair...

It was a truly enchanting place for children of all ages to enjoy. There is so much more to tell that we may well post a sequel!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

New crops planted and sprayed.

Over this weekend our local farmers have been busy planting their next crops. The one that has the land directly opposite and to the left hand side of our house has planted something that was seeded in rows approximately 30 cms apart. What the crop is I have no idea! This morning it was time to give, I assume the weeds, a quick spray. He had just finished spraying his land at the far rear of our house when I first spotted him.

 The sprayer folds neatly from the picture above.
 Then it was on to the front and side, unfold the arms and away he goes....
The front took once up the field and once down the field. In the picture below you can see the marks left by the seed drill.

In the adjacent land at the front the farmer has planted a different crop which could be winter wheat as it was seeded using a different seed drill and is much closer together. Yesterday he was busy marking out his field using what looked like a large pair of wooden compass. He started at one side and measured 8 compass widths and placed a yellow marker. He then measured 16 compass widths and placed another marker. He continued throughout the field. It suspect it will be an aid to spraying as the 16 compass widths look about the same as the width of the spraying machine. I will watch with interest....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Richelieu's Young Farmers

Today it was the turn of the Jeunes Agriculteurs du Richelais to put on a display aimed at the children of the area.

Advertised as: "A la découverte du lait et Marché fermier" the day was a celebration of all things to do with milk production on the farm. There were the obvious cows and goats

Plus some imaginative use of a trailer with hay bales to provide a slide...

A Maze....

And a cart track for the little ones.....

Surrounding the square were the usual stalls selling honey, glasses of wine, hand made soap and local produce as well as the obligatory beer stall!

There was something for everyone!

Friday, 26 August 2011

A sombre place on a sombre day.

We have Elizabeth's daughter and her partner visiting this week and they had been told about Oradour-sur-Glane. The village stopped in time on the 10th June 1944 when 200 Waffen SS travelling between two quarters committed an act of terror. They plundered and burned the village and massacred 642 persons including 193 children. It has been left as it was to this day. For more information click on the link above.

We had never heard of the village before and being interested in WWII history had to go and see it with them.  There is an tasteful subterranean exhibition centre forming the main entrance to the village. It is free to walk around the village itself and visit the memorial.

I will let the pictures show you a very very moving place....

The damp and cooler weather was fitting for the tour. It is very sombre and thought provoking place.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

In search of Sunflowers

The field at the back of us was harvested of its crop of wheat some weeks back. Since then it has produced all manner of grasses, flowers and herbs including the odd stray sunflower or two....
Elizabeth has had her eyes on these for some days now and it was only a matter of time before she took the secateurs into her own hands....

A few minutes later and she had a respectable vase full of the beauties.. so it was time to make the trek back across the field, home..
But this is not the end of the raid!! whilst in the field she also spotted something else and proceeded back with a spade!!
These little beauties are now in our border at the rear of the house!!

Lucky she went when she did, really, because this was the same field the very next day...
So it just goes to show: a flower or two in the hand is worth a field full under the plough!!!