Two weeks holiday in my beloved France passed by too quickly and although I have more stories to tell I will start with a sad one which impressed me the most.
On the day of arrival I inspected the wild meadow of the accommodation and was disappointed that I could not find one single butterfly; instead a few metres in front of me a fox was sitting. Unfortunately only for one second because as soon as he realized that a human being had entered his wild area he was gone. The last time I was that close to fox was 40 years ago when I was a little girl and looking for easter eggs in a German forest.
The third morning I stepped outside, I saw something moving and noticed a fox near the accommodation, I was surprised and happy to see a fox again but immediately noticed that something was wrong. The fox could not run away as he was badly injured at his both front legs. The fox tried to crawl and it was horrible to see and to realize how much pain and fear he must have. He was lying on the grass and wanted to run away. I pet his head and very carefully I picked him up, carried him to some bushes and gave him some dog food. As it was very early in the morning I did not know what to do. Two hours later I send a sms to our contact person in France (which was living nearby) to ask for the address of a vet or an animal rescue organisation. Unfortunately I received no reply (in the evening he called me that he was that day in an area without any signal) so I tried to find a vet and finally a vet was found nearby….but he was closed due to lunch time. The fox was still lying under the same bush and because I was assuming that I would drive with him to the vet I put him into a box with again some food. Some later, when the vet was available again we called him again with the question if he could release a badly injured fox but unfortunately the answer was NO…..because, the vet was not allowed to treat a wild animal and gave a telephone number of ‘le marie’ to find somebody who is allowed to kill a wild animal!
I was very very angry because it cost me almost the whole day to find that vet while in the meantime the fox was suffering and because I can not understand that in such an urgent situation I was confronted with bureaucracy.
In the evening I visited the fox in the box and gave him again some dog food to avoid dehydration….very conflicting because at the same time I was considering methods to release him.....but I was unable to kill him.
The next morning I found him dead in the box. He had eaten the food, left a big turd and finally passed away. I was sad and happy at the same time!
Later that day I buried him in the wild part of the garden and before putting him into his grave I was looking at him very well and found out that one leg was damaged before and that he must have been cripple for a while and that a big part of his other leg was missing (a fresh wound).
I do not understand why such a beautiful harmless and useful animal is hated that much by a lot of people and although it is 2016 that their methods to catch/kill them are still medieval!
This male Renard I will never forget; I only took one photo of him with the 'flower' setting (large aperture) of the day before but this look speaks for himself. R.I.P.
In the big garden of the accommodation in the Provence was a place with lower trees and bushes which was very popular with the Southern White Admiral. The first time I saw and photographed this species was in 1993 in the Estérel; last year in the Luberon I saw him regularly but unfortunately not resting. The Southern White Admiral has a graceful flight, it glides with wings open between wing beats and can be often found resting at about head height on shrubs and trees as this species is defending the territory.
This year was different. On the hottest days he was resting in the afternoon on head height on shrubs and approaching this species was a real challenge as the butterfly is very very shy. Everything what is passing will be attacked, he also attacked me and touched my arms. At first sight it seems that it was the same butterfly but from my photos I learned that every day an other Admiral was resting on the same spots.
I'm not the complaining type, but it costs me a lot of sweat and unsharp photos to catch this species.
On the day of arrival in the Provence I found a tiny little caterpillar of the Swallowtail on one of the wild Fennel plants. For me not a special species so actually I had not in mind to spend a blog about the Swallowtail. I checked the caterpillar every morning and evening on my ‘butterfly route’. Ten days later when the caterpillar was grown he was resting in the fennel and two new eggs were laid. I really considered to replace him as I was afraid that he would eat the eggs….when I checked the fennel plant the same evening again the complete fennel stalk including eggs were gone.
Apart from French butterflies, nature, old rusty cars, cheese and wine, I love the typical French villages and their laissez-faire character. Walking through the small ‘rues` with old houses is a kind of discovery tour for old doors, doorknobs and banisters…..and sometimes, when it’s very warm some doors and windows are open and allows the visitor a view inside.
This French cat was not amused that I was taking pictures…..his look speaks volumes!
How dare I to disturb him.
…. until something happened. I do not know what happened first, the woman who started screaming because I was moving like a crazy lizard in the sink under the towel she took out, or me who started running around when the towel disappeared and then she screamed. Fortunately, within seconds she could see that I was a friendly lizard. After I was tired of all the new attempts to climb out of the sink I stopped…..she photographed me for a few minutes and finally helped me out of the sink. I think she’s ok, the sink’s not!
Recently, I returned from France with great memories, a coloured skin and a lot of images of butterflies and other subjects. Two weeks I enjoyed the Luberon area and its picturesque small villages, the French croissants, cheese and wine and last but not least the dark blue sky!
It’s a great region where I could live with pleasure.
The accommodation was perfect, a big garden with a green part near the house and a wilder more stony and dry part behind, full with Wild Thyme, orchids and other flowers and it was crowded with butterflies. Shortly after arrival I noticed a Marsh Fritillary and Provence Orange-tip, so I knew that it would be an interesting stay. The garden had so much to offer that I had no opportunity to discover the direct surrounding and hills. Unfortunately time flies when you’re having fun and two weeks were too short so definitively I will return soon!
à bientôt le Damier de la succise!
….can’t you see I’m burning alive
As it is very dry in the Provence, I noticed that some butterflies are looking for some liquid in the gras early in the morning and some others tried the messed pool water. So the idea was born to create a little mud pool to attract butterflies. I choose a small piece of earth and ‘cleaned’ it, which means that with a tweezer I removed little pieces of brown gras, little stalks and some other distracted elements. A few times a day I sprinkled the little pool as the water evaporated immediately. On some days the little pool was crowded en some days there was almost no interest. The rush hour was on sunny days in the afternoon around three a clock.
One special visitor was the the Beaks (Libythea celtis) and for at least one hour I was thinking that it was an old Speckled Wood. I always noticed this butterfly in my books but I never saw him before so it was a big surprise.
Two other special guests were a very very small butterfly, the Common Zebra Blue (Leptotes pirithous) which I saw a few times but never get a chance to photograph him again and the Black-Eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops).
Some Small Blue’s came every day although I could not find them near the accomodation and the fresh Scarce Swallowtail was a gift.
These are not perfect images but it's nice to discover which species are flying around!
In my last blog I wrote that I have enough photo's of the Orange-tip; actually I ment the DUTCH Orange-tip. Arriving in my beloved France, one of the first butterflies which welcomes me was the yellow Provence Orange-tip. Wow.....what a beauty!
Every evening I walked around and searched on yellow flowers (including his larval foodplant) for this butterfly without any success.
Then the day came that I found one resting butterfly in the daytime and while I was photographing this butterfly (with stormy Mistral) I found some little caterpillars, white and orange eggs and the same evening as a big surprise: 3 resting Orange-tips....they maked my day!
The only problem was the Mistral which drives me crazy. With two empty shopping baskets I built a kind of shelter and with some sticks I stabalized the long and tiny plant they were resting on. Despite all this efforts it was a real challenge to make photos without any movements.
As one shopping basked was red and the other light blue, it must have been looked very obvious but it helped to keep the worst gusts of wind away.
When the sun came up across the hill, one by one they were opening the wings and it seemed that I had three femals. Girlpower! But, the way they came, they left, as no more resting yellow Orange-tip was found, till yet.
Soon, a new page with all images of the Provence Orange-tip will be added to this website.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.