Les tourbières de Vendoire lie in the Périgord vert region, north-west of the gastronomically famous town of Périgueux – truffle country. La tourbe is French for peat and les tourbières are peat diggings. Those near the village of Vendoire were worked until the 1950s but the old diggings are now flooded and maintained as a nature reserve. It doesn’t appear to have a very high profile but I learned of its existence from a BDS [British Dragonfly Society] publication which mentioned, I think, that it supported in excess of 40 species. Big magnet! On our way back north from the Languedoc to visit friends in the Marais Poitevin, stopping off for a first visit seemed a good plan.
Francine found a campsite listed under Vendoire itself so we made for that. Signing wasn’t great and the country lanes were very narrow, especially towing Guillaume, but, after a couple of missed/wrong turns and pretty much going round a complete circle, we finally arrived at the campsite. Since we had no back-up site, we were pleased to see that the place looked absolutely delightful as we drove in through the entrance at about 4:00 PM. The young lady running the site was also delightful. This is well off the main tourist track; there were a few weekenders in cabins but otherwise we had the place to ourselves. Alone in the middle of nowhere – perfect!
Once Guillaume was settled, we had time for a little late afternoon orientation by going to find les tourbières themselves. Our site was at a crossroads and a sign to les tourbières pointed down the lane passed the site entrance. We climbed back in our car, turned left out of the campsite, drove about 100m/yds to a slight bend in the road and after another 100m/yds the road dead-ended in the car park for les tourbières. We felt like chumps for driving but nothing had indicated distance. Our campsite was basically right outside the entrance to the nature reserve itself. Sometimes we find areas of France that we want to/enjoy visiting but finding suitable (i.e. acceptable) campsites can be a challenge. Here with were with the perfect combination of an interesting, quiet location with a splendid little campsite on its doorstep.
We parked after our 200m/yds journey, opened the doors and immediately spotted four species of Odo (three damsels, one unidentified dragon – moved too fast) flitting around the bushes behind the car. Promising! Immediately in front of the car park was a beautiful looking modestly sized spot of habit for Odos with emergent vegetation a-plenty. To the right was another small pond with a lot of floating pond weed; just the sort of thing that Fanjeaux is now sadly lacking. We spent about 90 minutes at these two pools and came away with a total species count of 17. 17 species in an hour and a half – very impressive!
Today we returned for a morning session. At the entrance a tantalizing Emerald Dragonfly zoomed about without ever settling. I’ll keep my suspicions to myself – it remains unidentified. Inside the reserve, there are a dozen or so bodies of water bordered by two flowing streams,with sentiers [footpaths] including some boardwalks winding around them. We covered what we could in a couple of hours, then returned to Guillaume for lunch. In an afternoon session, we found our way around almost everything we hadn’t managed to get to in the morning. I was gobsmacked – in a day and a half, we had tallied 27 identified species plus one mystery guest – I’m just sure it wasn’t one of the others. These included two species completely new to me: a mating pair of Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum) and a Yellow Clubtail (Gomphus simillimus).