France, July 2019

This wasn’t actually a trip in its own right but was a single week tacked onto the end of our trip around Germany. Having gone out to Germany through Belgium and experienced a dreadful campsite, we were anxious to avoid that route. We decided to take a slightly more southerly route back through Germany to cross into France at Saarbrucken. That put us in a good position to do some emotional sightseeing and odo-hunting along what was the Western Front in 1914-18. As soon as we crossed the border into France, the wildlife began to increase over Germany’s meagre offerings and prospects improved.

Since the two countries appeared to differ markedly, I didn’t want to lump them together as one trip. So, France is getting its own report.

Les Étangs de Longeau, 06 Jul [#1]

Somatochlora metallica, France-0824Staying at a small, aire naturelle style campsite in an orchard at Saint-Maurice-sous-les-Côtes, we spent a few pleasant days searching the surrounding area. In terms of odonata, this was a very productive little pair of lakes (there’s another which we didn’t visit) that yielded an impressive list of 17 species in just a little over an hour. Especially satisfying was a chance to snag some flight shots of a Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica). I never have seen one settled.

  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
  • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
  • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
  • Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damsel)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Aeshna cyanea (Blue Hawker)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Onychogomphus forcipatus unguiculatus (Small Pincertail)
  • Cordulia aenea (Downy Emerald)
  • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
  • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Sympetrum sanguineum (Ruddy Darter)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

Lac de Madine, 08 Jul [#2]

Anax parthenope, Lac de Madine-0905On our campsite at Saint-Maurice-sous-les-Côtes [see #1], we met a German/English couple with a boat nearby on Lac de Madine. They mentioned seeing a dragonfly there. I had low expectations because it is big water with a lot of leisure activity. However, at a second location around its edge that we tried, not only were there a lot of kids enjoying a rope course strung through trees but there were also quite a collection of dragonflies. I was pleasantly surprised and especially happy to catch an in-flight Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope).

  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
  • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
  • Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damsel)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
  • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
  • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)

Les Étangs du Vélodrome, Albert, 09 Jul [#3]

Anax parthenope ovipositing, France-0969Moving further up the Western Front from the bloody Battle of Verdun to the even bloodier Battle of the Somme, We stayed at Camping le Vélodrome in Albert. Outside the campsite literally 50m away were Les Étangs du Vélodrome to provide some relaxation after our drive. Probably the most notable thing here was that it supported all three European Erythromma species. Photo opportunities weren’t great but best was a pair of ovipositing Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope).

  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
  • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
  • Erythromma viridulum (Small Redeye)
  • Erythromma lindenii (Blue-eye)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

Vaux-sur-Somme, 10 Jul [#4]

Libellula fulva, Vaux-sur-Somme-1016We tried to find a few bits of habitat along the Somme that the maps would have us believe were there but without success. We finished up at a very productive smaller stream immediately beside the Somme itself at Vaux-sur-Somme. I now know that Vaux-sur-Somme’s claim to fame is that it is the place where the Red Baron was shot down and killed.

  • Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle) – Pleisse River
  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Chalcolestes viridis (Western Willow Spreadwing)
  • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)
Posted in 2019, France, Trip reports

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