Mike seemed keen on getting a little exercise having another week working back in Blighty so we went and dragged him out for a bike ride. Like us, Mike is also fascinated by wildlife so our trip turned into more of a nature ramble than a cycle. We spent a couple of hours, stopping and starting where nature beckoned, covering about 12 miles.
The Sèvre Niortaise river flows through the Marais Poitevin and, just having crossed it, we spotted a sort of damselfly orgy in the form of some group-ovipositing by a few pairs of orange-coloured damselflies. I’d seen this species before just by our campsite but hadn’t correctly identified them. I was keen to get a shot, not only because the species was new to me but because they were adopting the so called sentinel position very nicely; the male stands sentinel to guard the female during egg-laying. Having consulted my odonata bible, I now know them to be the delightful Orange White-legged Damselfly, a mouthful of a name but a species which does not occur back at home in Britain so a welcome addition to my catalogue.
Francine being a hawk-eyed flower spotter, a little botanical excitement was caused when, showing Mike a collection of Pyramid Orchids which we’d already found, she noticed a Lizard Orchid flowering nearby. The Lizard Orchid is a fabulous floral creation whose blooms really do resemble a long-tailed lizard in form.
We’d done well with nature but had screwed up our lunch arrangements, having forgotten in the morning to buy any bread for lunch. Now, of course, it was lunchtime and all the local shops were shut, a delightful but occasionally inconvenient practice still prevalent in much of France. In Arçais, even the bar (which also sells bread) was closed. What on earth is a bar doing closing at lunchtime, the very time folks are likely to pop in for a bevy? Mike came to the rescue, rustled up an admiral selection of salad and pasta, and fed us. Thanks Mike!
Just as we were leaving nature distracted us once again. Mike and Linda have quite a collection of Red Valerian growing in and around their property and the Red Valerian was attracting quite a collection of Humming-bird Hawkmoths. I’d snapped a just-about-recognizable shot of these in the days before digital when I was using 50 ASA slide film; very slow. Here was a chance to see if I could do better with some newer technology. 800 ASA and F8 gave me 1/2000th second – that should help. Autofocus wasn’t flying properly so I had to do what I could with manual focus but here’s a reasonable result, albeit slightly soft focus. I’ve got a better shot but I suspect I can’t copyright it anonymously. 😉