When I arrived at dusk on Friday evening, I noticed some orange flags above our road and it was obvious that there was no relation with the WC football.
The heavy rain and thunderstorms from some weeks ago were responsible for a fallen tree and power pole.....fortunately both were 'cleanded up' in the meantime.
When I passed this place on Saturday morning on my way to the wild meadow (see my blogs Le pouvoir des filles I and II) I noticed some black caterpillars walking on the sawed pole....when I came closer I noticed that this were Camberwell Beauty caterpillars and soon I noticed a lot of them on the brown withered leaves.
I returned to the house to get a box and started collecting caterpillars which I released in my back garden (in the Vosges) on their larval foodtree.
In the meantime the sun had risen above 'my' wild meadow when I started searching butterflies. Instead of 40 cm the grass was now at least 1,20 metre high and immediately I noticed a Heath Fritillary.
A lot of Meadow Browns were already active and the Marbled Whites started opening their wings. On a part with lower grass and a lot of flowers I found some Black-veined Whites. Although I photographed them a week earlier in the Eifel I was glad to have them in the Vosges.
Last weekend I was in the Vosges for only two days as I was very curious which kind of butterflies I can find in June. What I found/see exceeded my expectations!
I had taken two buckets with horse manure which I placed near the path but very soon I found out that the most butterflies preferred Wanda's dogshit. So I mixed the horse and dog shit and within some minutes it was bingo!
The first Lesser Purple Emperor landed on the shit followed by a second one and some Small Skippers, Heath Fritillaries and a Comma-Butterfly.
Also a Purple Emperor landed on 'my' shit but he flew away twice as soon as I moved a little bit. When I returned to the house I discovered him in the shadow on my house wall near the empty shit buckets so I placed some bramble (with a hint of shit) near the buckets and waited......
....and there he came.....the big Purple Emperor.....the only thing I will change the next time is my lens.....this butterfly is too big for the 180 mm!
The evening I found her majesty I was 'en route' without camera. I asked my son to return to the house and bring my camera stuff and fortunately he did! In the meantime I was searching for other butterflies but I only found one Grizzled Skipper.
My son returned running with all my camera stuff and I started photographing her with a kind of wide angle lens. So the name of this blog must change into Le pouvoir de garcon! Merci mon chéri!
Four days in the Vosges felt like almost a week. My short holiday started with visiting two vide de greniers (without buying/finding anything), discovering a beautiful nature area with a lot of lakes and wild meadows and photographing a Wood White in my own garden. As the weather was wonderful I started with the front part of the garden to create some space for another three butterfly bushes. Working in the garden in the Vosges means 'killing' a lot of brambles and saying 'hello' to the snakes and slow worms between the stones.
Every evening I visited a wild meadow near the house which I discovered during my autumn stay. Unfortunately nature is running late in the Vosges and the meadow with wild flowers was almost empty. Almost......because the second evening something in front of me in the grass scared me when it started moving....it was a resting female Swallowtail which tried to chase me away by moving/opening her wings. Of course I returned the next morning as I wanted to catch her with dewdrops....although her body was covered with dewdrops and although I approached her very carefully she opened her wings again.....what a girlpower....after a minute she closed her wings a little bit and I could take some photos before a big mosquito attacked her and she decided to change her position.
Last Friday I returned to the Vosges together with four girlfriends for a high-tea-birthday-weekend. In ten days time nature in the Vosges was awakened and the forest floor was covered with white blooming wood anemones.
The weather conditions were excellent and on Saturday I saw the first Camberwell Beauty very soon after the sun started shining. I had a good helper and together we noticed at least four specimens. Photographing them was again a big challenge as they flew away immediately. On Sunday I had more luck when one butterfly started drinking from my house wall.
Next to the Camberwell Beauty we saw some Small Tortoiseshells, a lot of Brimstones, one Peacock Butterfly and one Holly Blue.
Due to a lot of Easter traffic I arrived late in the Vosges and the last four hundred metres I collected 'frozen' frogs from the path. Once in the house it seemed that there was frost damage as again (see my first blog) water was flowing through the ceiling into the living room. I was too tired to worry about it and went to bed.
The next day started to find some water as I needed coffee....the lesson I learned is to buy some extra water bottles in case of frost damage.
In the early afternoon the problem was fixed and I noticed that the sun was shining. I took a stool and choose a 'I can see the path position' and within a few minutes I saw a big butterfly coming down and started screaming as I could not believe that it really was that species and because I was angry at myself that my camera was still in the house. When I returned with camera the butterfly flew away.
Twenty minutes later the butterfly returned, I guess that it was the same butterfly as he choose exact the same place.
I tried to approach the butterfly carefully but he noticed me too quickly and after one snapshot he was gone. Unfortunately the sun disappeared and with her the butterflies so I only have that one photo.
New chances to meet the Camberwell Beauty again in ten days.....fingers crossed that it will be a sunny weekend!
But, I have no reason to complain as I also saw a Large Tortoiseshell and dozens of Brimstones who were attracted by the large amount of wild daffodils.
During my stay in October I noticed some fresh woodworm holes in the big old rafters after the built-in bar was breaked down and the other furniture was removed. So my mission for the 'Carnaval Holiday' was 1) to paint the other part of the ceiling and 2) to kill that worm bastards! After the two rows of lower laths was removed I found out that the damage of the woodworms and longhorn beetles were too big. Big parts of the rafters were pulverized and as on these old rafters the chimney and a part of the bain is resting the problem is much bigger than killing some worms. For the first time after having this house I had to think about a certain 'Dutch' television programme.
Fortunately the contractor had time to take a look and soon he will send an offer for mounting a steel beam as replacing the old rafters for new ones is no option. I postponed finishing the painting job for a few months.
As the loud and unexpected sounds of fireworks cause stress and anxiety for Wanda, I left to Vosges on St. Stephens Day. Two days after arrival I woke up in winter wonderland. After I finished my French breakfast (with fresh croissants) I stepped outside and found out that a red deer had crossed the path in front of my house.
I made a tour around the house and found the most footprints of the deer(s) around the pond and on the rock next to my house.
I must admit that I understand the/their choice as this is a fabulous view into the valley.
When I woke up last Saturday morning it was 6,5 degrees in my living room (which was heated the evening before) but the first look out of my kitchen window compensates everything. Outside it was magical! On Sunday morning a male roe deer was walking on the path a few metres in front of my house....fortunately he survived the hunters. Two days were too short to warm the complete house and with the help of some extra fleece blankets and hot water bottles I survived the cold temperatures.
Two weeks of hard work with help from friends alternated with autumn walks with Wanda, good red wine and nice conversations at the fire place, sleep late, a visit to the Hohneck, eating Éclairs, photographing the 'house' snake and enjoying the complete silence.....could have lasted so much longer.
Last week when I stepped outside with Gerard for a last walk with Wanda, the amount of stars was amazing....even a part of the Milky Way was visible. Thank you very much Frank & Gerard for your help, good company and this fantastic photo!
Since August 2017 I'm the owner of Maison Bonheur, an old farmhouse in the Vosges. Because of its location in the forest/nature the possibilities for nature/peace/relaxing lovers are limitless.