Back in the UK I took advantage of a sunny afternoon to check out a local patch. I walked through Hurst Grange Park Meadows, past the ponds to the new Woodland Cemetery at the top of Hill Road: excellent for insects and other stuff too...
A disturbance in the long grass brought me face to face with this chap. Clearly, it was injured in one eye.
Lynne wanted to visit some open air thermal baths which are situated in the small mountain village of Fontpedrouse (90 minutes from Argeles). This place is a mountain gem, not because of the thermal baths (which are excellent too) but because of the sheer variety of wildlife. Arriving at 10AM, my troop took the plunge while I explored the area...
Just in the café / picnic area alone, I noticed several species of butterfly fluttering around the buddleia, some were familiar British ones (gatekeeper, painted lady, large white, etc) but others were definitely not. In this small area alone, I counted 12 different butterfly species, 8 familiar British ones and 4 new ones to me.
After saying "goodbye" to my family at the spa entrance, I proceeded to walk up a narrow, winding, stony path which overlooks the outdoor pool area and leads up the nearest mountain. Wow! I have never seen so many insects, especially butterflies...
Already overcome by butterflies, my attention was drawn to a buzzard-like bird soaring overhead. I took a few shots just in case it turned out to be something new. I enlarged the shot and sure enough, it was a winner: Honey Buzzard!
What a day! No doubt we'll be retuning here on our next visit to southern France.
When you've had enough of sun, sea and sand, its handy to know there's a mountain range on your doorstep. The Pyrenees are just a short drive inland from Argeles and offer great day-trips for tourists and naturalists alike. Gorges de la Fou near Arles sur Tech boasts a winding metal walkway through a spectacular river gorge with a shed load of wildlife thrown in. The river bank near the entrance to the gorge is particularly fruitful...
Mas Larrieu is just walking distance from La Sirene campsite, in fact, if you opt to stay at Le Soleil campsite this nature reserve is right next door. Here you will find a strange combination of river, woodland, reed-bed, beach, scrub and semi-arid desert habitats, all within the same square mile.
Lake Canet is a 10 minute drive from Argeles, an amazing place with some truly exotice birds. You'll think you've driven to Africa...