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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Sentier Botanique, Montreal

Montreal is a nearby hilltop village that we can see from our house, on the edge of the Malepere range of hills. This botanical walk is an easy 3.5km round walk, with a further loop to extend it by several more kms if wanted. Plenty more paths lead off in various directions but the one we are interested in here is the main, botanical trail, which has many boards giving information on the varied plants and trees growing in this forest. 

We went here first at the end of July last year when it was drying out so there were few flowers out - even so, there were plenty of butterflies about. We wanted to see what it was like here through the spring so we set off one day last week when the weather was fine and mild, and had a lovely few hours. I took tons of photos of course, so I will just mostly caption them and try not to type too much blurb! 😀


It was lovely to see the swathes of low growing early spring flowers; above Lesser Celandine gives a lovely sunny glow to the sides of the path.


What's so interesting for us around here is the mixture of plants that we are familiar with, and ones which are more Mediterranean such as this Tree Heather. There are also a mix of four species of native oaks in this forest, plus the introduced American Red Oak. At the very beginning of the walk, where it is quite open and sunny, there is a little patch of typical garrigue plants - Kermes Oak, which is a short, shrub like ivy-looking evergreen oak, and some Cistus Rock Roses, amongst others.

The following plants are ones that are common in northern Europe, notably - Pulmonaria:


Vinca mixed in with the Lesser Celandine:


and Cuckoo Flower/Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis):


It was a day of firsts - the first Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps heard singing, and then the first Orange Tip butterfly spotted. I was a fair distance from it but was using my Lumix bridge camera zoomed in rather than my SX50 which I use for macro. I stood around focussing on the flowers as the butterfly kept coming back so was able to get several shots in flight - not as sharp as I would have liked but I didn't want to change the settings for a faster speed and miss out on shooting the butterfly!






I managed the same with this male Brimstone - in the second picture it is just coming into land. You don't normally see their wings open as they always hold them closed when not in flight.






If I'd been on my own I would have spent more time trying to shoot the many Bee Flies buzzing around, but K was always 20 paces ahead of me waiting for me. 😂 You can just see one resting in the middle of the leaf and another half hidden behind grass on the left of the leaf.


Part way around the track swathes of Wood Anemones appeared in amongst the Celandine.


There was tons of Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower as well, but we didn't hear any Cuckoos!




One of the many information boards giving info about the plants found in the forest.


At this point we took a detour way down to the valley floor to the tiny stream and even tinier 'waterfall', which was only about 10 foot high and even after a winter's worth of rain, still only a trickle. Barely worth taking a photo of! Nice to see some streams flowing though as so many of them are dried out in summer. Down near the stream where it was damper and darker there were a few different plants, notably this parasitic plant called Purple Toothwort. It's very funky!


Cowslip:


Anemone hepatica:




On the loop coming back there were the first Merisier (Wild Cherry) trees flowering. The lower growing saplings always start flowering first.




Back at the car park there is a wealth of information given about this area. This is a photo I took last summer, but I wanted to show the info given for anyone reading this who might be wanting to do the walk. The other day these bugs in the next photo were all over the wood!


These are Lygaeus equestris, a species of ground bug, commonly known as - wait for it - Black-and-Red Bugs. What, really? I wonder why? 😂😂😂


I hope to visit at least once more during the springtime to record the flora and butterflies in this little patch of paradise.

11 comments:

  1. Fabulous pictures Many.Are those the bugs we also know as Gendarme beetles? They breed like rabbits!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Trish, thanks very much. No, they are not Gendarmes, but there are lots of black and red bugs that are similar. Gendarmes don't have any white on them, and aren't actually beetles, but True Bugs! xx

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  2. well it all looks lovely and what a great walk, you are a few weeks in front of me I have only recorded Lesser celandine and have yet to see a butterfly. The sway of mixed flowers is stunning. Purple Toothwort is a plant I don't see locally, I do hope you go back throughout the year to see what else there is.
    Amanda x

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda, thanks very much. I've been seeing butterflies since early Feb, even some on sunny days which are fairly cold! You have me interested in recording what I see there now! I'll probably show the butterflies I recorded last summer in my next post. Cheers xx

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  3. What a superb walk to have close by - lovely photos and so many wild flowers. Lovely to see the Brimstone and Orange Tip - no butterflies seen here yet this year. I found Purple Toothwort by a river by coincidence a few years ago. Fascinating little plant! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Caroline. We have several walks around the village, one of which goes into woodland for part of it, but it's a long 8km walk which I don't feel up to doing yet, so this one is ideal. Yes, K discovered the toothwort in the local walk I just mentioned so I'm glad it was also here at this walk so I got to see it! xx

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  4. Wow... pure joy! Wonderful photos as always. I especially loved seeing the butterflies. During this awful drought, I miss them the most. A wet monsoon is predicted for us so our fall butterfly season might be good but I'm not holding my breath :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Marianne, nice of you to visit! I was so pleased to capture the butterflies in flight, perhaps I should have cropped the images tighter but of course I was looking at my photos on a large screen so they looked a lot bigger and better than the pics on the blog! (unless you click to view them larger). I cross everything that you get rain to break the drought you are in. At least there is water on your property for the wildlife to drink. xx

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    2. Thanks for visiting my Instagram! I will respond soon.

      Right now I'm trying to take advantage of relatively cool weather and am busy working on improving irrigation to my property with hopes of being a little more efficient and thus not wasting water. Arizona gets its water from the Colorado River and it's gone down considerably so I feel sure we'll be ordered to ration this year if we don't get rain this summer! I had high hopes we'd get a good amount this week but it barely sprinkled :-(

      Still no butterflies but birds are plentiful. They know where to get a good meal :-D

      Happy Gardening!

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  5. Hi Mandy, love the Wood Anemones, this is a sign that its ancient woodland. Ah!! Orange Tip great to see, but I haven't as yet this Spring.
    Have seen a very fast flying Brimstone twice now though.
    This walk shows a lot of promise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roy, sorry, I forgot to reply to you! I didn't know that about the anemones so thanks for that info. Not surprised that it is ancient woodland though really as there is so much more wood and forest in France than the UK and it was too steep sided here to have ever been agricultural land.

      I hope you have seen your first Orange Tip by now. We saw our first swallows yesterday, some down the road and lots near the coast. :-)

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