The Spring at le Fourquet - Narcissus requiennii
It has been a cold spring. A strong wind from the east has kept me in long trousers and probably kept the migrant birds away. The Serins, Cirl Buntings, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, all resident have been singing for some time. I saw a black redstart bobbing yesterday on the walnut tree. But where is the cuckoo? In 1999 I heard the cuckoo on March 20th. Now it is the 30th. The butterflies have not been quite so plentiful yet either. There have been quite a few orange-tips, and a scattering of brimstone, red admirals peacocks and commas. The large tortoiseshell has not been seen in its usual numbers. But no butterfly can fly well in the mistral-like wind which we have been suffering. Night temperatures have been low, but the days have been mostly sunny. The flowers are doing well. The cowslips and the ladies smocks are as plentiful as ever. Fields and banks are densely scattered with the cowslips. The primrose in contrast hardly exists locally. Violets appear in some variety. The first orchids are flowering. Orchis morio is showing in the pasture. I will expect several hundred stems during the next few weeks. The push up amongst the the blue spikes of the grape hyacinth, the Muscari. The early spider orchid is in its locations flowering well. A short distance to the south of the Departement, we found a lovely stand of Narcissus requiennii. This is a charming small daffodil which grows on the stony sun baked limestone terrain known as the 'causse'. The flowers are only about 2 cm. across and they are very strongly scented.
One wonders why some of these plant populations are in these small pockets well isolated from others of their kind? I fear the answer is probably to do with the heavy over-grazing of past centuries.
Many of the woodlands we have which in some communes extend to more than ninety percent of the land are in fact secondary woodlands on old fieldlands. The many old field walls, which are the result of massive imputs of labour are witness to this. Some of these walls are up to three metres wide and some of the stones you would think could only be moved by a machine!