Sunday, 8 July 2012

The case of the tame Silver-washed

Sorry to my moth friends, but this begins a week of butterfly posts. We have just been in France, on the borders of the departments Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne, and there were more than 30 different species in the garden of our rented cottage alone.

Bliss! And it's an area (some 20 miles west of Albi near exquisite little hilltop towns such as Castelneau de Montmiral) which I can't recommend too highly for a quiet but interesting break in the somnolent green depths of France's rural South West. If this was England, every little gem would be full of visitors. As it was, we were sometimes alone, or accompanied only by such interesting travellers as a Belgian family who were making their way through the area with a donkey like Robert Louis Stevenson in the Cevennes.

As you can see, the butterflies included almost tame French specimens of the Silver-washed Fritillary, a glory I remember from visits to the New Forest but can only dream of in Leeds. One frequented a postcard shop at Cordes-sur-Ciel, the other came to examine Penny while she was cooking. And to show that I haven't forgotten the moths, here is a film of a Humming-bird Hawk. There were three or four of them on the lavender outside our front door almost all the time we were there.

There is a fascinating plaque in Castelnau btw, quoting Simone de Beauvoir on her arrival there with Jean-Paul Sartre and the calming effect which the beautiful, arcaded central square had on his delusion at the time that he was being pursued by giant lobsters.  No sign of the Lobster Moth, alas, but then I didn't have my light trap.


sarah meredith said...

Oh what a lovely part of France that is! We vacationed in the hamlet of Campagnac when the children were 6 and 10. It was about a 15 minute ride from Cordes. The critter we found most intriguing during that visit was a dog called Pateau, who adopted Tom - and vice versa - and spent long hours running after sticks tossed into the vineyards beyond our wall. We also had a visit from some bats one night and, of course, there were tiny lizards everywhere, so with all that wildlife, we were too busy to look for the butterflies, which were probably everywhere! Glad you had such a nice week. love to both s

MartinWainwright said...

Amazing! We were just outside the next village to Campagnac, Sainte Beauzile. We met all manner of other animals, specially when driving home at night - deer, a badger and six owls sitting in the road which were very leisurely in departing - a true Parliament of them. X to all, M - and P