Ticked Off in Les Tourbières

So, to the reason for our 2-night stay at an overpriced campsite just north of Limoges. Today we were setting off to visit La Tourbière des Dauges in search of dragonflies. I’d learned of its potential some years ago from an internet acquaintance also keen on Odos. Wanting to break our journey north into easier chunks and with blistering weather in the offing, this seemed like a golden opportunity to give it a whirl. A few years ago we visited another tourbières [peat digging], Les Tourbières de Vendoire, and, as well as having a very reasonably priced campsite literally right on its doorstep, it produced 22 species of Odos in a day. My expectations were set.

J15_3060 Cordulegaster boltoniiI knew roughly where this place was but we were assisted by road signs beginning very close to our not-reasonably-priced and not-on-the-doorstep campsite this time. After some earlier morning shopping we began following said signs and arrived in the tiny village of Sauvagnac at the reserve’s entrance. A helpful lady in the maison de la résèrve pointed us to a short (1km) and long (5kms) walk that would get us to a few dragonfly spots. We began with the short one. the first suspect we spotted turned out to be quite a find. Our helpful lady had muttered something about arctica as part of her introduction. Looking at our new suspect I thought we had a Downy Emerald (cordulia aenaea) but after consulting the book, this would be one of the lady’s arcticas, a Northern Emerald (Somatachlora arctica). If only the blasted celebrity would have paused for a photograph. At teh bottom of the track we found several more Northern Emeralds, accompanied by Keeled Skimmers (Orthetrum coerulescens) and a Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) in typical flush habitat. We returned and were surprised to see not only a Common Goldenring (Cordulegaster boltonii) but also a cooperative Common Goldenring that was in the mood for photography, posing on a trackside bush. These spectacularly marked creatures have to be one of my favourites and seeing them is always a thrill, especially as they do not live where I do. Highlight!

Lunch break: a French chap showed me two dreadfully blurred and indistinct phone camera shots of a dragonfly that had chosen to sit on his car. Identification being completely impossible, I banged off a couple of possibilities but, honestly, this was a crap shoot, in both senses. Nice man, though, and one with style – he was peeling cooked potatoes as part of assembling a comprehensive salad for lunch. Bravo!

Tourbiere trackAfter lunch we hit the longer 5kms track hoping to see considerably more. We saw more Keeled Skimmers and more Northern Emeralds. Disappointingly, additional species amounted only to Beautiful Demoiselles (Calopteryx virgo) and Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). Part of the track took us through potentially ankle-deep peat bog with fences and gates that were designed to keep us on the track, not straying into possibly dangerous ground either side that we could have sunk into. There is a peat bog reserve in England where White-faced Darters (Leuchorrhinia dubia) live that is accessible only in the company of a guide to guard against this very danger.

Six species over a 6kms walk seemed like a pretty meagre haul. Strewth, I’d seen six species on a single modest pond in the decorative garden at Limoux! This was really a quite pleasant 5kms walk in wooded countryside with the occasional small dragonfly habitat en route, rather than a dragonfly habitat that you walk around. I was quite disappointed despite getting my first glimpse of a brand new species.

A greater insect haul was found on our way out. Francine stopped for a call of nature along the track and was mortified to discover seven ticks that had taken up residence on various parts of her body. One more tick than dragonfly species. Yikes! Francine had left her walking shoes in Spain and had been wearing open-toed Keens. We can only assume that the little tick bastards had got onto her feet and worked their way up before imbedding themselves in her softer, warmer parts. She’s getting quite adept at removing the little beggars. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the sites that they chose to imbed in.

Just after Francine’s tick discovery, I did see what I believe was the site’s seventh species of the day, a Black-tailed Skimmer () but it was a little distant to be entirely sure without studying the long shot photo.

So, I’ve ticked off Les Tourbières des Dauges and Francine is completely ticked off with Les Tourbières des Dauges. I’m glad I’ve seen it but neither of us will be keen to rush back.

On the other hand, I would return to Les Tourbières de Vendoire in a heartbeat; its completely different and much more Odo-nutter friendly when it comes to access.

Posted in 2015 Spring

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