Aire Naturelle Wildlife

Cicada HolesCicada TreeMy previous post went into some detail about Cicadas, of which there is no shortage at Camping Villemarin. All the tree trunks prove to be very popular sites for emergence as the example on the left shows. Looking closely at the ground, you see the numerous holes left after the nymphs have surfaced. It’s a wonder the ground doesn’t subside, really.

The glut of Cicadas was making a very welcome feast for various birds around the site. At points where they were undisturbed by humans, we saw gaggles of Starlings swooping down and flying off with what would make a decent sized lunch. Similarly, we occasionally see a Sparrow drop down and grab a meal.

Lesser KestrelI did get a picture of one of the more unusual birds on the campsite. This is a Kestrel but no ordinary Kestrel; this is a Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni). It has a less densely spotted breast than the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and the breast has a buff coloration. I’m not sure whether this raptor would take a Cicada but I do know Hobbies prey on dragonflies.

Failed EmergenceThe great majority of the Cicada emergences go well but just once in a while something goes wrong. In this case, the first Cicada had emerged and was hanging inflating its wings and body, and drying out. In this state it was unable to fly and a second Cicada nymph climbed up and chose to sit on top of the first to complete its own emergence. The second adult has successfully emerged and flown but the first is stuck and now doomed; with both right wings distorted it would never be able to fly. The best thing to be hoped is that it would make a good meal for one of those birds. Nature is tough.

One of the avenues in Camping Villemarin is called Avenue des Libellules [Dragonfly Avenue]. Well, red rag to a bull, I just had to go and investigate.

Aeshna affinisI saw little at first but followed signs to a water course. The water course was, in fact, bone dry but beside it I was entertained for some time by a magnificent Blue-eyed Hawker (Aeshna affinis), what most in the UK refer to as a Southern Migrant Hawker. In the evening, above us, we saw a swarm of a dozen or more Blue-eyed Hawkers zooming about, frantically feeding rather in the way that Bats do. It was mesmerizing to watch.

Leafcutter (1 of 2)Leafcutter (2 of 2)While I’d been hunting dragonflies, Francine had been sitting relaxing and had spotted another visitor which was again benefiting from Cicada activity. A bee was flying towards her with something green and disappearing underground in one of the holes left by a Cicada nymph. At home I’ve watched a wasp that preys on shieldbug nymphs that can be green, and I wondered if this might be what was happening here. Not quite; a couple of photographs showed that this was a leaf-cutter bee which kept returning with newly cut rolls of leaf. This enterprising bee was using the Cicada nymph hole to build a nest. Leaf-cutters make cells lined with leaf material, each cell containing and egg/grub.

Very entertaining.

Posted in 2023-06 France
One comment on “Aire Naturelle Wildlife
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