So here is a first shoot for BBB09. Literally, because this is the opening for the hunting season, and shots were echoing from everywhere in the landscape. Hmm, bioblitzing is a dangerous activity in Fall!
So our first spot is a hedged farmland area in French Brittany near the town of Feins (in the heartland, not the coasts). I was hoping for swampy places, as my map (well, dating back from the early 80′s though) had swamp symbols on that place. Instead, I got wet meadows but that’s for a good start. Much less muddy.
Satellite map, if you’re curious.
Let’s go quickly for the trees. Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur), Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa), and Black Poplar (Populus nigra) were dominating the hedges (well, both in abundance and height, see picture above). There were many other shrubs and small trees nevertheless, most bearing fruits or nuts, such as Common Hazel (Corylus avellana), Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), Wild Rose (Rosa canina), and a few Wild Cherry trees (Prunus avium) here and there…
Other commonest include various field grasses that I didn’t even thought of determining, the common Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) spreading in dense patches, Blackberry (Rubus, probably some fructicosus thingie) and since we are in Brittany, plenty of Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) though none were flowering, along with undetermined species of Genista.
Now that’s spelled out, I guess we have at least 80% of individuals met during the walk… Let’s turn to the rarest now… But before that, let’s have a look at a local agricultural practice that has interesting consequences on the landscape.
We’re in a country with a dense hedge web, and even if field management evolved in the late decades with intensification of agriculture, many old trees still stand in between. During the middle ages, land was not owned by those who planted and cultivated it, and property rights included trees around the fields. On the other hand, people were in need of wood during winter. They thus obtained the right to cut branches on trees in hedges, so that trees were not killed and houses can stay warm during the bad times. It evolved into the generalization of shredding, resulting into typical (but unnatural) regional tree morphology. The practice is still in use today…
Birds were particularly quiet, but I’ve seen classics like the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), the Winter Wren (Nannus troglodytes), Rook (Corvus frugilegus), and a few gulls (Larus fuscus) fleeing the shores to overwinter in fields. Let’s expel the other vertebrates quickly too:
The latest was clearly looking after any beast that’s big enough to interest his master. I really was fitting into its search model, for it stopped its race and pointed at me. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t fitting into the model for the hunter…
Now the arthropods. Hum, not that many here. Dipters mostly… (in abundance decreasing ranking!):
And also numbers of mating pairs of the Common Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria). If you wonder where, see the vertebrate section above.
While we’re still listing insect, I’ve seen (but not photographed here) Vanessa atalanta and Inachis io. But these butterflies and good at fly and flee as soon as something big is approaching. Model search is just like the dogs one, except that they often flee at sight, and the size treshold is much smaller.
Finally, here are the flowering plant species that punctuated the trail… A lot, but Seeds Aside is a plant blog so I guess this was expected!
And because I keep trying to find their IDs, here are two very nice flowers. I can’t wait too long though, and once again I’m not well equiped with identification guides, and even google can’t help this time (the Linaria just below might be L. repens, though there are some small morphological differences that might make the difference…). Here they are:
Another Blogger Bio Blitz 2009 post is coming soon, at another place (about 30 kms East of these hedge edges & meadows, in the Couesnon valley). Keep in touch!