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Monday, 13 April 2020

Lockdown Walks Around Our Area

What a difference since the last time I blogged! Who would have ever imagined this sci-fi nightmare world we find ourselves living in now. Truth is, most of the time it is not a lot different from normal; Keith has worked at home for the last 15 years or so, so I'm used to us being home together. We are home bods and don't go out a lot, and have yet to make any friends here, although we were starting to make acquaintances amongst the birders in the Aude and Herault depts, having been on a couple of birding days out with Birding Languedoc. The last time I went out, in fact, was on one of these outings two days before lockdown began! So pottering around at home is something that is not new for us, and therefore we don't get bored as there is always something we find to do. In fact I would quite like to do a jigsaw, as we won a motorhome themed one in a competition last year, but I'm always finding things more important to do!

In terms of shopping etc, I haven't gone out of the house, as for one I don't drive, but in any case K wants me to stay home as he has the better immune system (we think! I sleep badly, am unfit and have depression, all of which are supposed to lower your immune defences). 

Lovely surprise discovering this bush is a magnolia!

Onto our exercise. Now this is where I miss not being able to go out more than 1km from the house. It's worse for Keith as he is fitter and has been going for far more walks than me, and enjoying this first year seeing how spring has been evolving (from late January in fact, this having been a mild winter) on several of the loop tracks around the village area. We can't go that far any more so we have been exploring just where we can go within the 1km reg. We are very lucky to have a part of one of the Grande Randonee walks very close to the house - it is GR78 and in fact goes from Carcassonne to St Jean Pied de Port in the Basque country and is part of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. It's only about 0.5km long until it hits a road (haven't gone further, must try that) so we have just walked down the track and back up again. 

Another wonderful surprise - three different kinds of orchid growing in our lawn!
This is a Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea), and there is another Ophrys
and then something that isn't flowering yet.

Then we have walked along the road away from the house in the other direction as far as we can, which comes to some magnificent views of the Pyrenees, although there are many days when the view is hazy - I have yet to see the mountains in full glory along here. We checked out another walk that was marked on a map as a walking track, but it ran out in a ploughed field. Later on K decided to explore it and managed to link up to the GR78 but had to walk around the edges of two ploughed fields which was hard going. It's the only way to do a loop walk though and get in a few kms for exercise (I didn't mention we can only stay out 1 hour max, so we can't go far anyway).

Spring seems to have slowed down now and we are about as far ahead in terms of leaves on trees as we were in Brittany by mid April I think, or maybe a week ahead. However it's different here - we are on chalk for a start and the hedgerow plants are only 50% familiar. When we get to the more Mediterranean climate areas closer to the coast it is even more different!

The photos I am showing are from the GR78 route, from two walks two weeks apart.

Outside our house, looking in the opposite direction of the walk we are going on, but just
about showing the peak of Bugarach in the Corbieres in the distance.


Looking down from the track to the Plane tree lined road below
and the fabulous views southeast-ish.


A beautiful wild Cherry tree in full blossom.


Keith next to the wild Cherry trees.


Yours Truly.

 Two weeks later, looking considerably greener....

The track starts off with trees/shrubs on both sides....

... then opens up to a cereal field on one side, opening up the views.

Lords and Ladies flower - it looked a bit different but then I realised that the leaves
had been mown off when the track was mown a few weeks ago!

Think this is a Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea),
growing in the verge not far from the house.

Walking back up the track looking towards the village.

Finally a butterfly that stood still! This was with my Lumix so not a macro.
It's a Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus).

Small Heath again.

I've been seeing butterflies since the end of January - the most common then were either Small Whites or Southern Small Whites - difficult to tell the difference and certainly not without a decent photo! As they never stand still that isn't possible.... there have been loads of Wall Browns around, I saw a Painted Lady in March and I've seen many Cleopatras which is exciting - the southern version of the Brimstone, just brighter yellow. On this walk above I saw my first Orange Tip of the year, always a lovely sight. I will at some point update the Labels info at the top right of the page with our new garden bird list (Cirl Buntings twice!) and butterfly list. 
 
I hope you are all staying safe and well in this crazy lockdown most of us find ourselves in, and finding plenty to keep you busy. I have even been crafting, good grief! More to come about that (I hope). Keep on smiling. Much love xx


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Honey Bee on Sedum

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