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Wildlife Interlude: butterflies and moths in the southern Haute Loire

Part of the joy of fieldwork is travelling to new landscapes, and discovering new and wonderful things: geology, scents, local foods, architecture and of course wildlife. There's a lot going on just around the field station where I'm working, outside of Laussonne in the Haut Loire. Here's a satellite image of the location, the marker is for the village, I'm in a building just in front of the large patch of trees (with a rock outcrop with shadow above), at about 11 o'clock from the village.

Here's the view looking out south-westwards from the room where I'm working, you can see it's a very rural area, with a lot of small fields, cows, and mixed forest plantations.

View south-westewards from the room where I work; cows in the fields on the other side of the valley.
There are a lot of birds about, so far I've seen buzzards, treecreepers, serins, red-backed shrike, black redstart and maybe crested tit although I'm not sure about this last one. It's difficult not getting distracted by the lovely view out of the window!
When I've been outside, it's noticeable that there's also a high diversity of wildflowers here, suggesting farming isn't very intensive, and probably as a consqeuence there are a lot of insects. Not so welcome, especially in the kitchen, are hordes of flies (partly due to the cattle). But there are also a lot of other types about including wood wasps, bumblebees, and in the forests, lots of those big wood ants which build high nests from vegetation, and which form marching columns.

Wood ant nest
 There's also a wonderful assortment of butterflies and moths, which seem to be fluttering about whereever you look. Here are a few photos I've managed to get of these, any ID suggestions are welcome!

And the next photo demonstrates the richness of butterflies and moths here, showing that the three species just pictured were all actually exploiting the same flowers, which I think are some kind of thistles.

There are also a lot of lovely moths about in the evening, and as I have the windows and light on when I'm working late, this acts as an attractor, including to some rather large and lovely species.

Lovely pale moth on my trousers, about 3-4 cm long

Big moth that was trapped in the office overnight, releasing it the next morning

The same beautiful big moth, with subtle brown pattern
Hopefully I'll get more photos of the wildlife around here to share with you!


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