Cirque des Baumes.

P1210051

Whilst we were camping in the Tarn Gorge, I’d mooted the idea of a walk from the rim of the gorge back down to the campsite, hopefully, by walking downhill, mitigating the worst effects of the heat; but when most of our party completed a walk, TBH and I had driven B to the hospital in the town of Millau instead, to get a painful ear checked out. (He’s okay now, although the problems continued for quite some time after our holiday ended.) That trip was not without it’s own interest – when we drove out of the town, onto the hillside above, we saw a great host of circling Red Kites – but I was extremely disappointed to have missed out on the walk, and so was very pleased when TBH and J agreed to an early morning foray, in J’s case for a second time.

We parked at Point Sublime, with fine views into a misty gorge.

P1210057

There were plenty of distractions on hand too, with both butterflies and Wall Lizards about to keep me and my camera occupied.

P1210054

Wall Brown.

P1210067

I think that this is a Silver-washed Fritillary, you can perhaps see why its called that in the photo below.

P1210063

P1210078

Five-spot Burnet Moth.

P1210083

We passed no end of these silken tents, apparently constructed by the caterpillars of the Pine Processionary Moth.

P1210085

Another Blue-winged Grasshopper. I think.

The path was steep and narrow, but well worth the effort as it descended past a series of huge rock towers and cliffs.

P1210109

P1210117

J, you will notice, is wearing a shocking pink hat. She has pink Crocs too. Her children are appalled by both, which is, of course, entirely the point. She is making up for the sobriety of her youth. I’m sure she completely sympathises with Jenny Joseph’s poem ‘Warning’ which begins…

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”

P1210101

Wall Lizard.

I thought I saw a bird of prey alight on top of a distant tower and the amazing zoom on my camera helped to confirm that fact.

P1210096

It was exhilarating to watch the raptor soaring above the hillside, in and out between the karst features, eventually landing not too far above us…

P1210114

I have quite a few photos of the bird in flight, none, sadly, very sharp, but I think they show enough detail to suggest that it was a Rough-legged Buzzard, not something that I’ve seen before.

P1210119

Wall Lizard.

P1210122

Karst scenery.

P1210123

This was a terrific walk for butterfly spotting and on this steep hillside section there were a great deal of quite dark butterflies flitting through the trees. They were hard to catch in repose and generally, I think, belonged to species not found in Britain. Frankly, I’m not sure what this is; continental Europe seems to have numerous types of Grayling – I wonder whether this is one of those?

P1210126

P1210129

P1210133

It was J’s turn to pick out a large bird on a distant rock tower – this time on the one seen ahead in the photo above.

P1210140

A Griffon Vulture; soon joined by a companion….

P1210146

They didn’t seem to be very busy and I continued to take occasional photos as we descended past the tower.

P1210147

P1210151

A Dusky Heath?

P1210159

P1210165

P1210162

Another Grayling of some description?

P1210167

P1210169

Looking back up into the Cirque des Baumes.

P1210172

Striped Shield Bug – less prevalent , it seemed, than in the Dordogne, but still around.

P1210185

The Dryad? Love the eye-spot.

P1210186

This small butterfly led me a merry dance and I only managed to photograph it from some considerable distance. Could it be a Glanville Fritillary?

P1210190

P1210193

P1210194

Having reached the bottom of the valley, we climbed a little way back up to a point under the cliffs…

P1210196

P1210199

Wall Lizard.

Where there was a tiny chapel…

P1210202

La Chapelle Saint-Hillaire.

P1210201

P1210206

Sadly, the chapel was locked, but I managed to get an image of the interior through a small hole in the door…

P1210205

P1210234

One final look back up into Cirque des Baumes.

We were down in the valley now and walking along the road, which for me was saved by the butterflies and flowers along the roadside. We passed a garden where a Buddleia was festooned with butterflies and moths, particularly fritillaries which I took to be more Silver-washed.

P1210236

P1210242

Clouded Yellow.

When we were almost back at the campsite we paused by the ‘Mushroom Rock’ to take in the view and wave to friends and family below, then J and TBH rushed ahead to get out of the full glare of the sun and to get a cool drink, but I was distracted again by more butterflies and moths…

P1210262

This is a new species to me, a Jersey Tiger Moth, there had been several on the Buddleia earlier, but they were a bit too far away to be photographed very successfully. Unfortunately, you can’t see the stunning red underwings in this photo.

P1210263

When I took this shot of another Five-spot Burnet Moth I didn’t even see the two rather striking shield bugs nearby. I wish I had; the purple one in particular looks like it was stunningly patterned.

P1210265

Small Skipper.

P1210277

Perhaps not surprisingly, this striking insect is not in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’. It will have remain a mystery.

P1210279

The underside of a Jersey Tiger Moth.

P1210286

Small Skipper and Silver-washed Fritillary.

P1210287

Jersey Tiger Moth.

P1210314

When we’d been kayaking on the Tarn and had pulled our boats onto a shingle beach to jump into the river and swim, a Scarce Swallowtail landed on the end of one of the kayaks. I managed to get very close to it with my phone, but none of my photos came out well. I was really pleased, then, to get another chance for some photos.

P1210304

P1210303

P1210317

Large Skipper.

Only a mornings stroll, but the views and the wildlife will stick with me for a long time I suspect.

Advertisements
Cirque des Baumes.

9 thoughts on “Cirque des Baumes.

  1. Fantastic gorge and impressive list of insect, reptile, animal/ bird photos. I think those are the caterpillars PPM that I always reminded myself not to touch if I spotted them on backpacking trips but I never did see any. (Toxic hairs and severe eye and mouth infection if you touch your face afterwards)

  2. Wow! What a wonderful morning hike/stroll. The abundance of butterflies and varieties is amazing and your photography and knowledge stunning. With these images, I can’t see the memories fading too quickly at all.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      No, it was fantastic. Looking at the photos now, I wonder that we didn’t do more walking, but it was ridiculously hot – which you know all about, of course!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Seems appropriate in this context. I’ve been to a couple of places in the Pyrenees which were equally jaw-dropping, and maybe one day I’ll get to see the Grand Canyon, but this was a pretty good stop-gap for now.

  3. I can now see why you took so much longer to do that walk than we did (and why TBH finds you “exasperting” with the camera!) 😀
    Cracking photos and a great walk. We should probably have made a bit more effort to get up early and do some walks. It was so much hotter than any other time I’ve been there though so river play was a more attractive option

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes, I think walking with me when I’m on ‘butterfly’ mode is fairly frustrating. Makes me happy though. We’ll just have to go back when it isn’t so hot.

  4. That scenery is nothing short of stunning Mark! The variety of butterflies etc in France is amazing compared with up here in Scotland. I remember being so excited as we headed for the Cevennes one year knowing we would see thousands of them. It piddled down for days and we saw not a single flying object. But hey…that’s the great outdoors for you. Great photos btw…I see you haven’t lost the touch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s