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Friday, 23 June 2017

Meneham, Finistere and its gorgeous beach

We're back from our travels and it's good to stay put for a bit now! To say it was a bit of a rush in between trips is putting it mildly. As we had housesitters for both trips there's not only sorting out our own things but we have also to think of the housesitters - clean the house before they arrive, have a meal prepared for them that evening, and then washing their bedding and towels afterwards. With my brother here too the laundry pile is astronomical, but there's no rush to get it all done now. 

As it's so hot outside right now* what better to do than sort through my photos indoors! I still have piles of weeds to attack but can only go slowly at the moment and the garden requires watering most evenings now which takes priority.

Despite us all catching the cold that my brother caught off someone on the ferry over, pouring rain on our first day and a lot of really annoying wind, we still had a great time! Brittany's coastline is just amazing and it's no wonder that it is so popular with tourists. This place that we visited was on our last day and it was a shame we had to leave about 4pm for the journey home, as it was the most glorious spot with fab views and a beach to die for... and we had nice weather that day.  I doubt I will be posting everything from our travels but this was one place I wanted to share.

The hamlet of Meneham is one of those places which fell into disrepair after the inhabitants moved out and so it has been restored, with some of the buildings now housing a gite, an auberge, artisan workshops and a museum. The houses are dotted about here and there and aren't the most photogenic but the history of the hamlet is interesting. If you look carefully at the photo below you will see that the thatch has been capped with stone. This was done as back in the day wood was used, but people used to nick the wood to use as firewood as there are no trees about on this windswept coastal site. Meneham once housed customs people before it was taken over by paysans, both fishermen and farmers who worked the land. An important 'crop' for them was seaweed, which they would collect with the help of horses, dry out then burn to cinders. These cinders were sent to various factories to extract soda from them. This info I got from the info boards on site, however the website for Meneham says that they extracted iodine and algin/alginate. 

These cottages have been turned into a gite - a great spot to holiday but you'd have to get used to tourists gawking at you when you sat outside!

The whole area is rocky and so many of the rocks have 'faces' in them - once you start thinking like that you see creatures in them everywhere. I see an elephant below. :-)

This is the little house that is built in a gap between the rocks and the other side looks out to sea. There are only two little windows and it's a one room house.

This is it from the coastal side.

And these are the kinds of views it enjoys!

At low tide the beach and surrounds are just stunning.

And the sand is pure white! Not golden but the whitest sand I've seen in Brittany, perhaps in all of France. There are dunes all along the edge of the beach and at the top of the dunes where the sand is more solid there are sand martins nesting. It was a real pleasure wandering around with these little birds flying around us.

OK so this photo has had a vintage filter so the sand looks golden!

Sand Martin at its nest hole.

There were also quite a number of Rock Pipits, a bird we have been seeing regularly around coastal Brittany.

I spotted this little critter in the sand so got down close for a better look. It is a Sand Hopper (Talitrus saltator), but it didn't hop for us and just played dead. They eat rotting seaweed and in turn provide food for shore birds.

A rock pool!

Keith looking in a rock pool, but I was interested in the rock to the right of him. Can you see the lady's face and hair?

He took some photos of me but only my back view this time (I have plenty of me facing the camera in other places!). I bought the cropped trousers and backpack in a touristy shop on our previous trip. I'm covered up here because we all got a bit pink a few days before spending several hours on a beach.

There was tons of seaweed making paddling (or swimming) at low tide not so enticing; however the variety of seaweed was amazing, with all sorts of sizes and colours. I was most enamoured by a pinky purple one, which I ought to have taken a photo of. I'm not sure what my brother and I are looking at here. 

All in all a place well worth a visit.

The website for Meneham makes interesting reading, although it is in French.
and briefer infomation is given in English here.

* It was 36C when I wrote this several days ago; it now feels gloriously cool at 24C!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

I'm still around, somewhere.....

... just not in the land of blog. We've just spent 3 weeks down in the south of France in the moho, and no sooner have I got through a ton of laundry and uploaded my photos to my big Mac, than we are off again for another week to explore Finistere in the rain with my brother. 

One of these days I will get back to blogging, I've just lost my mojo. I leave you with a photo of me searching for it.


Monday, 3 April 2017

Butterflies seen during our Pyrenees holiday - Part 2

Continuing on with the butterflies that I saw whilst on holiday last September. These ones were all seen by the Mediterranean sea, both in France and in Spain.

Not a lifer but I don't see these Mallow Skippers (Carcharodus alceae) very often, and I only saw one other skipper whilst away, a Small Skipper up in the mountains; interestingly enough it was pudding close to the Adonis Blues.

10. I'm now not sure that the following two butterflies are the same species or not! It pays to double check before you post those original IDs that you noted. I think the butterfly on the right is a Rock Grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus), but am unsure of the one on the left which was taken in the same location. It doesn't help when the butterflies are very flitty and you don't have very good photos, or they are a tad worn. There were quite a few of these drab brown butterflies flying around the rocky headland next to our camp site at L'Escala. Despite such barren conditions I also saw Wall Brown, Small White and Painted Lady here.

11. Now this one definitely is a lifer and there were lots of them flying around this plant which is something exotic in the pea family. They are Lang's Short-tailed Blues (Leptotes pirithous) and they feed upon plants in the Fabaceae family, amongst others, so that helps with ID. They would not stand still and the shrub was huge, so taking photos was a bit hit and miss; better just to stand back and watch them and enjoy. So long as I can get a few photos for ID purposes then I'm happy. Do you see those two tiny electric blue spots by the little 'tail' though? Aren't they amazing!

I should mention that this and the following species seen on flowers were seen at the beautiful Botanical Garden of Cap Roig at Palafrugell, Costa Brava. If I ever get my A into G I will share photos that I took at this place as it was heavenly.

I'm going to throw a few moths into this post as this next one is just stunning. We also saw a couple mating on a path right beside our camp site, but I prefer this photo of one on a dahlia. It's Zygaena carniolica and it doesn't have a common name in English because presumably it isn't found in the British Isles.

I also saw quite a few of these little moths which were flitting about feeding on Lantana and Heliotrope (?not sure). Not a chance to ID it, unless anyone can help?

Back to the butterflies I include this blurry image as it's the first time I've caught a Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) in flight and seen the topside of the wings! They always but always have their wings closed when they are perching on something.

I have taken some much closer photos of this butterfly in previous years but even here you can see its stunning green eyes!

Again, not a lifer as I've seen one in my garden, but seeing the regal Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) in Spain is just icing on the cake.

12. I have saved the best till last. This butterfly was seen beside a beach at the far end of the Ebro Delta. Now I knew when I saw it that it was related to the famous Monarch butterfly because of that spotty body, but what it was I had absolutely no idea! I searched my European butterfly book but could only find a picture of the Monarch, as it can be found in Madeira, the Canary Isles and the Azores, where their foodplant, Milkweed, grows. However under the Monarch was a paragraph about the African Monarch .... and a google search showed that it was indeed the butterfly we saw! The African Monarch (or Plain Tiger) (Danaus chrysippus) is an African and Asian species which migrates across the sea to southern Spain. Lucky we saw them where we were as the Ebro Delta, despite being at the far southern tip of Catalonia, is still fairly north-ish. What a fabulous butterfly and not one I was ever expecting to see as I didn't know it existed!

So that makes 12 lifers seen, which is pretty darn good I'd say. We are heading down that way again in May so I hope to see some different species, as there should be plenty of wild flowers in bloom. Can't wait!