Practical Ecology

Nature Switched On

 

 

 

 


in the Pyrenees  the first 10 years

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gallery 1: 2006-2012
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>> 2007 May  5
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                         a   S T A M M E R  project              

2007 April 28, 29 & 39, from Saturday to Monday


 With temperatures around 20 and now and then a heavy shower (during one of them we collected 19 litres of rain in less than 2 hours) the conditions had been optimal for vegetation growth. The aspect of the terrain was indeed wonderful when we arrived on Saturday. The exuberance of colours and forms was joined by the buzzing of innumerable insects and the song of many birds. Of the latter the Blackbird (Turdus merula) was especially prominent. Not only did it sang for most part of the day, it continued until deep into the night. Its song is a delight of improvisation and originality and I understand the ornithologists  how affirm that its song is superior to the Nightingale.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Looking south-east on the higher terrace. Red poppies, White Rockrose, Catsear and shrubs of Dogrose and Kermes oak. Sunday 12:53

Same terrace, looking north-west. Common Thyme, Cypress Spurge, and Catsear.
On the background the two 'biowalls'.
Sunday 12:50

 
 

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The trees were budding and getting a fresh green colour and I discovered many more seedlings of trees and shrubs. I am really questioning the necessity of planting any more of them. Planting involves some minor hassles which spontaneous reproduction lacks, like watering and the question if the plant is really native.
A tree that is sprouting all over the place is the European Nettle Tree (Celtis australis), a drought resistant and long living tree that grows well in nutritionally poor soil.

 

The Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) had endured well the pruning in winter and most of the specimen showed a vigorous sprouting.

 

 

 
European Nettle Tree. Looking north-west on the lowest terrace.
Saturday 13:55
 
Kermes Oak. Looking south-east in the centre of the terrain  
 

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Thanks to all the flowering I was able to confirm and correct the determination of some species. The most noticeable was the grass species that is perhaps the most numerous on the terrain: Bromus diandrus subsp rigidus. Its vegetative characteristics made me think of Holcus lanatus in October 2006. It is an invasive annual grass that prefers somewhat disturbed nitrogenous soil. Its abundant presence is probably due to the application of fertilizers and herbicides in the past.

Another doubt I had concerned this species of the legume family. It is what I thought it to be: Spanish Broom (Genista hispanica), a small shrub growing especially in the half-shade of the wood border. It seems to have two kinds of leaves: persistant ones that have turned into thorns and the freshly grown new leaves. As its name indicates the distribution of this species is practically limited to Spain (and the SE of France).

 

Also limited to the SW of Europe is this other member of the same family Cytisophyllum sessilifolium, quite an ornamental shrub without the thorns typical of many close cousins.

 

This strange flower is Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), a Mediterranean species having sterile bluish-violet flowers forming a tuft above the fertile flowers. From the same genus as Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum) it grows from a thick reddish bulb. I have only found one specimen so far in the lower western terrace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Field of Bromus diandrus in the lower western part.
Monday 8:55
Spanish Broom in the shade of the woodland border.
Sunday 12:38
  Cytisophyllum sessilifolium on the lowest terrace.
Looking south-east.
Sunday 11:02
Tassel hyacinth accompanied by German iris, Vicia peregrina, Lathyrus setiflolius, Bromus diandrus and Catsear Close up of Tassel Hyacinth.
Sunday 11:11
 

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The origin of the German Iris (Iris germanica) is uncertain but it invaded the mayor part of southern Europe centuries ago with its rhizomous roots. It is so ornamental that it can almost be considered a 'weed' in this wild and native garden but better not fuss too much about this aspect. So far not more than 10% of the plants carry flowers but perhaps there is still more to come.

The photograph on the right shows the very first flowering of Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) one of the most abundant species on the terrain.

 
German Iris on the lower western terrace with the almond trees. Looking north-west.
Sunday 11:14
 
  Salad Burnet, on the lower central terrace.
Monday 9:37
 

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The flowering of Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is spectacular and attracts loads of different insects especially bees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field of Common Thyme on the higher, central terrace.
Saturday 13:25
'Albino' Common Thyme.
Sunday 12:30
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) on a shrub of Common Thyme.
Sunday 13:07
   
 

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No surprise that our caravan would also experience the invasion zeal of wildlife. This wasp nest had been constructed during the course of one week on the roof window of the caravan. Similar nest could be found outside and the wasps especially favoured the dried stems of Rush
Skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea). Another reason for not mowing all these dead and dried stalks of herbs in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impossible of course to give all the insects a proper treatment on these pages. I will limit myself to the occasional snapshot of beautiful and/or curious phenomena of which here there are some examples.

 
Wasp nest in the caravan.
Saturday 20:45
 
  Wasp nest on the stem of Rush Skeletonweed.
Sunday 10:23
Duel between spider and wasp on the flower of a Cypress Spurge.
Sunday 13:15
 
   Polyommatus bellargus on Bromus diandrus.
Monday 9:53
 

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The many stone groups have now been planted with Sedum and Sempervivum species I collected from our terrain (Sedum sediforme) or from a neighbour's garden (Sedum album, Sedum acre, Sedum dasyphyllum, Sempervivum tectorum). With these plants we hope to have a good starting collection for the planting of the 'green roof' of our future house. Partly for this reason I will violate the law 'Thou shall not weed' in a wildlife garden, because especially the stone groups on the lower terrace with deeper and richer soil will soon be invaded by Goosefoot, Whitetop and Wild Buckweed.

 
  Stonegroup at the entrance to the terrain in the west. In the inlay a detail of Sedum acre and Sedum album.
Monday 9:56
 
 

introduction
floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
contact
index
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-

map
>> 2007 May  5
<< 2007 Apr 14

 

 

 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 
   

Latest revision on:  14/08/2018