France, Cele Valley, La Brenne and Le Barre de Monts, 13-15/6/2012

We arrived at the Camping Le Moulin Vieux the previous evening in the rain. I had really been looking forward to returning to this site as I had spent a week there in 2011. The last time I visited it was extremely hot and there was lots to see in and around the shallow river.

This morning the river was like this.

Last year it was like this!

Videograbs from my Trip DVD. See Trip DVD's for sale.

The weather today was largely overcast with intermittent rain and the odd 10 minute sunny spell but cold.
Anyway making the best of it, we searched around the meadows and managed to turn up a few odds and ends.

White-legged Damselfly
Platycnemis pennipes

Male White-legged Damselfly
Platycnemis pennipes
Camping Le Moulin Vieux

Western Demoiselle (Calopteryx xanthostoma) 150
Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) 20
White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) 2
Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis) 20
White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) 20

Lake near St Eulalie

Western Demoiselle (Calopteryx xanthostoma) 30
Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) 10
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 20
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) 10
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 1
Blue-Eye (Erythromma lindenii) 1
White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) 6
White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) 10
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)3
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 20
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea)5
Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis) 20

Marbled Fritillary
Brenthis daphne

Male Western Demoiselle
Calopteryx  xanthostom

Early on the 13th we left the area to head for La Brenne. We arrived Le Parc de Maison, Le Bouchet by mid morning. The pond in front of the restaurant was an excellent site for Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum)

Female Dainty Damselfly
Coenagrion scitulum 

We easily found at least 50 as the sun began to emerge

Male Dainty Damselfly
Coenagrion scitulum 

Immature Male Dainty Damselfly
Coenagrion scitulum 

Our species count at this site was as follows:

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 10
Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) 50
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) 2
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) 1

Our next site visited was the north east side of Bellabouche in the early afternoon. Here we saw our first White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistylum) and big numbers of Migrant (Southern) Spreadwing (Lestes barbarus).

Female White-tailed Skimmer
Orthetrum albistylum
Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) 6
Migrant Spreadwing (Lestes barbarus) 150
Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestes viridis) 1
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 20
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 2
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) 2
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) 1
Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) 1
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) 10
White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistylum) 3
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) 5
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 500
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) 4

Next we visited the south eastern side Bellabouche. There was a very nice Heronry here with Purple Heron being the predominant species.

Female Small Emerald
Lestes virens

We saw the following:

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) 2
Migrant Spreadwing (Lestes barbarus) 50
Small Spreadwing [sp] (Lestes virens) 2
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 30
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 20
White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) 100
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) 1
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) 2
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 20

We spent the night at a beautiful municipal campsite at Rosnay.

Early the following morning we visited a common just to the south of Rosnay to look for orchids before the weather warmed up.

Lesser Butterfly Orchid
Here we saw plenty of Small Tongue orchid although most were past their best. We also saw Lesser Butterfly Orchid.

We then went to Cherine with a brief stop at Etang Foucault on the way. We had hoped to find Lillypad Whiteface (Leucorrhinia caudalis) at Cherine although we were informed that the pond in which they breed had almost dried up in last years hot weather meaning that they were no longer there. Hopefully they will re-colonise.

Immature Female Southern Migrant Hawker
Aeshna affinis 

However in the car park at the information centre we found a nice immature female Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis).

Species seen at Cherine:

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 1
Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) 1
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) 1
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) 1
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) 1
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 10
Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale) 1
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) 1

European Pond Terrapins were also at this site.

We than went to Etang de Vieux in the early afternoon and returning again to this site in the late late afternoon.
Our main quarry here was Yellow-spotted Emerald. Although we saw one individual, I was unable to film it. There was also an outside chance of Lillypad Whiteface (Leucorrhinia caudalis) but we could not locate any.

Male Scarce Chaser
Libellula fulva

We did see the folowing at Etang de Vieux:

Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) 3
Migrant Spreadwing (Lestes barbarus) 2
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 2
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) 2
Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) 2
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 20
Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) 1
Female Orange Spotted Emerald
Oxygastra curtisii
Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) common
Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) 1
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) 1
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) 2
Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) 1
Yellow-spotted Emerald (Somatochlora flavomaculata) 1
Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) 1
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) 4
Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) 50
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) 50
White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistylum) 2
Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) 50

We had a brief return visit to the south eastern side of Bellabouche but saw nothing new.

On the 15th June we left our campsite in Rosnay and drove for a couple of hours to the coastal town of
Le Barre de Monts, in the Pays de Loire. Here we had by prior arrangement arranged permission to access a restricted site at Ecomuseum de Daviaud where Dark Spreadwing (Lestes macrostigma) could be found.

Female Dark Spreadwing
Lestes macrostigma
Thew weather today was becoming increasingly windy and cloudy as the day progressed. We were however lucky to see numerous Dark Spreadwings as they kept low in the thick club rush habitat. This required wading into water which was almost above wellington boot level.

Female Dark Spreadwing
Lestes macrostigma

Male Dark Spreadwing
Lestes macrostigma
Migrant Spreadwing (Lestes barbarus) 100

Dark Spreadwing (Lestes macrostigma) Numerous (in a restricted area)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 4
Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) 1
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) 1
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 20
Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale) 50

Also at this site there were good numbers of teneral Southern Darter. Identification features include the relatively plain thorax sides, extensive amount of yellow on the legs, Black on frons longer than striolatum, shorter than vulgatum and slightly pinched. S sanguinium obviously ruled out on leg colour and shoulder stripes. On showing these to others, the following was also added "the bold thoracic stripes with a dark area between them, somewhat reminiscent of Black Darter S. danae, are also a good guide for (young) female S. meridionale"

Teneral Female Southern Darter
Sympetrum meridionale
Teneral Male Southern Darter
Sympetrum meridionale

Teneral Female Southern Darter
Sympetrum meridionale
(Taken the day before at Cherine)

We left the area by early afternoon as it started to rain. Our final day in France was meant to be spent at a site  Etang de Joreau near Gennes but unfortunately the weather was not kind to us with rain and cool temperatures prevailling until we decided to leave at lunchtime.Our targets of Lillypad Whiteface (Lecorrhinia dubia) and Dark Whiteface (Leucorrhinia albifrons), would have to wait for another time.