Tuesday 9 August 2016

Odds and Ends from France

Fritillary sp - possibly Heath, Meadow or Provencal? I haven't yet purchased a decent field guide that covers the European species. It has been on a 'to do' list for years. Edit - Knapweed Fritillary - big thank you to Tim for ID.
Our stay in Provence was very much a family holiday so I didn't spend a lot of time looking for wildlife. I didn't stray more than a few hundred metres from the campsite but there was so much to see that it was utterly absorbing and frustrating in equal measure because most of the insects I was looking at I couldn't put a name to! I've been to the area many times before but each visit throws up new discoveries and surprises.

Praying Mantis - I found loads of these whilst looking for butterflies and moths but all the others were bright green. Some were huge.

Geranium Bronze

Hoopoe with Mont Ventoux in the background. The wires that the Hoopoe is on regularly supported Bee-eaters and on one memorable morning, a flock of 30+ Bee-eaters was joined by 10+ Hoopoes and 2 Rollers that were all swooping down in to the vineyard below to catch insects.

Skipper sp, possibly Mallow?

Southern White Admiral

Bee-eater - one of a flock of 30+ that were regularly seen in the vineyards bordering the campsite.

Black Kite

Violet Carpenter Bee

Edit - Knapweed Fritillary

Black Redstarts - this nest was in the campsite bar. All 4 juveniles fledged at the end of the week but looked extremely vulnerable as they hopped around underneath the tables and chairs in the bar.

I think these are Vineyard Snails Cernuella virgata. There were masses of them covering all the low vegetation around the campsite. They are aestivating which means they are hibernating while the conditions are so hot and dry. This prevents them from drying out.

Chalkhill Blue or Provence Chalkhill Blue - Edit - this is Provence Chalkhill Blue - thanks again Tim.

Darter sp - I don't do dragonflies but this one posed and looked quite smart! Edit - Red-veined Darter - thank you Steve.


  1. Butterflies abroad are mind boggling for me! But I reckon that's got to be a Red-veined Darter at the bottom of your post. Welcome home and I hope you have a good autumn. Steve.

  2. Thanks Steve - can see the red veins on the wings now. Not sure why but dragonflies have never grabbed me like the moths have. I really should try and learn them though. Hope you have a good autumn too. Looks like Blackhole Marsh has been doing well. Would love to have a site like that in Exmouth! Cheers. Matt

  3. Lovely, takes me back...your Frit is Knapweed I think and the blue is Provence CH - after quick check in Tolman & Lewington. As for the skipper, agree, most likely Mallow?. cheers, Tim

  4. Hi Tim - I really appreciate your help with the butterflies. Thank you for taking the time. I'd be interested to know the features that help separate these species - the book is something I've been meaning to get for ages - maybe this Christmas. Thanks again. Cheers, Matt.

  5. I don't have Tolman & Lewington but can vouch for the Collins Butterfly Guide. It has served me well enough.

  6. Thanks Andrew - good to hear from you.