Tails of the Riverbank

I think the campsite at Luché-Pringé is becoming one of my favourites. Of course, the weather plays a vital role, as it does anywhere, and here, we’ve been lucky – the sun has shone. This site, though, seems to have everything we want. Luché-Pringé is a classic French village/small town complete with a church whose bells chime the hours and half hours to complete the French atmosphere. Being on the edge of a village, there is a good boulanger, a butcher and a cash machine a short walk away for life’s essentials. It is also within easy reach of a couple of supermarkets in the two larger towns of Le Lude and La Fleche only about 10 mls/16 kms distant, so all supplies including relatively reasonably priced fuel, are readily accessible. [Ed: it comes to something when we regard €1.36 per litre for fuel as reasonably priced!]

The campsite is situated directly on the banks of Le Loir river – well direct other than for a public footpath running immediately beside the river. Beside the site and river are large meadows which appear to be unused except, perhaps, to be cut for hay. The river itself is non-navigable so there is no disturbance due to the wakes of noisy river craft. The quiet river and fallow fields add up to a haven for wildlife of which the campsite is essentially just an extension. Bags of interest for the likes of Franco and Francine. Guillaume very much likes being parked here, too. 😉

Green_Woodpecker_1 One of my main interests here is the 10 or so species of dragonfly that can be seen along the banks of the river but there are other critters to be seen, too. Early on in the day I got a rare chance to sneak close enough to a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) for a recognisable shot, even if it kept its tail hidden in the grass of the campsite.

Green_Lizard_1 Later, while we were out wandering the banks in search of our usual quarry, Odos, what I can only describe as a vividly green lizard sat head-down on a fence post beside one of those fallow fields that I mentioned. I say, “only describe as” because I have no idea what particular lizard this might be, though, given a book on European reptiles, I’d have thought it might be relatively easy to identify. It, too, kept its tail hidden before scarpering completely.

Banded_Demoiselle_1 Not all the green tails of the day remained hidden, however. Among the 10 species of Odonata were literally swarms of Banded Demoiselles (Calopteryx splendens), sometimes rather romantically referred to as riverside butterflies, flitting back and forth along the bank. The frantic flitting is, of course, for one of two reasons, either males in a territorial spat or a male in pursuit of a female. Eventually an unpursued female posed advantageously on a seed head offering a much more artistic picture than had the earlier individuals.

A final few moments of excitement occurred as we were setting about our evening barbecue. While it was firing up – yes, we still use real charcoal – we both spotted some movement in the grass just in front of it. Confused at first, we eventually realized it was some sort of moth. Its wings were still not fully inflated. It had just emerged from its pupal case which was about 3cms long, still half buried in the ground and decidedly gooey. Despite this, Francine grabbed it so we could snap it for the record. The poor moth seemed to be missing two legs but, with wings now fully inflated, it eventually flew off so we’re hopeful that it might fulfil its mission in life, reproduction.

Unknown_Moth_1 Unknown_Moth_2 Unknown_Moth_3

Posted in 2012 Spring

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