I learned of La Tourbière des Dauges a few years ago from an internet acquaintance also keen on Odos, one Nick Ransdale of Moulismes Nature. A few years ago we visited another tourbières [peat digging], Les Tourbières de Vendoire, and as well as having a very reasonably priced rural campsite literally right on its doorstep, it produced 22 species of Odos in a day. My interest was piqued so we decided to pause on our northward journey home in the last week of our 2015 French trip for a visit to La Tourbière des Dauges.
La Tourbière des Dauges lies slightly to the northwest of Limoges. To our eyes, the most appealing campsite of a restricted selection was what looked like being an overpriced Les Castels site just north of Limoges called Camping Chateau de Leychoisier. This is where we chose to stay for a princely €35 a night, though being July we were into high season and it may not be regarded as quite so over-priced if you plan to use its many facilities (pool, restaurant, bar etc). What we generally want is a simple field with shade and electricity.
We were assisted in finding the precise location of the reserve by road signs beginning very close to our campsite. Follow those and you’ll end up in the tiny village of Sauvagnac close to the reserve’s entrance. There is a car park (“P” on the map) but it is very small, about seven cars, but small village roads are not impossible. A helpful lady in la maison de la résèrve pointed us to a short (1km) and a long (5kms) walk that would get us to a few dragonfly spots. What I had not realised prior to our visit was that the main attraction from an Odo-nutters viewpoint is the presence of Northern Emerald (Somatochlora arctica).
We began with the short walk before tackling the longer one and the firs suspect we saw was, indeed, S. arctica. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about to settle, flying a circuit seemingly tirelessly. The short walk produced several more S. arctica encounters, none of whom settled. The longer walk again produced more encounters with S. arctica, all on the wing. I failed to get a picture to celebrate my new species. 🙁 Keeled Skimmers (Orthetrum coerulescens) were also numerous but I regarded our most successful photographic encounter to be a Common Goldenring (Cordulegaster boltonii) which settled on one of the access tracks.
Our total haul amounted to only seven species over a 6kms walk:
- Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle)
- Ceriagrion tenellum (Small Red Damsel)
- Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Dasmel)
- Cordulegaster boltonii (Common Goldenring)
- Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
- Orthetrum coerulescens (Keeled Skimmer)
- Somatochlora arctica (Northern Emerald)
This seemed like a pretty meagre haul to me. If it weren’t for the sight of those Northern Emeralds, I would have regarded it as almost pointless. However, a new species that requires a very specific type of habitat is always exciting.
WARNING: Our most worrying insect haul was of those infernal ticks, no fewer than seven of which found their way onto Carol and most of which attached themselves. The walks take you through some very marshy areas and they get through open-toed shoes. I urge anyone visiting this site to wear Wellington boots as protection.