A walk by the river

When we arrived in Sainte-Foy-La-Grande in early April the weather was glorious, but the river looked odd as there was a white film on the surface of the water in the areas where the river is at its slowest flow.  We dug the binoculars out of their winter storage spot and trained them on the white stuff and realised that the river weed appeared to be flowering.

Swans and the river weed starting to bloom

As the days marched on the whiteness intensified to the point whereby it looked as if there were snowdrifts on the river.  It was a pretty, if odd, sight.  I vowed that before we left I’d make the time to wander over the river and see if I could get a closer view of the flowers (without getting wet).  It took a while as our priorities, as ever, were on ensuring that the house was ready for the season.

Just before we headed back to Tortola this Easter the river bank opposite Les Terraces was a wonderful lush green, with tall grass providing a haven and camouflage for the numerous rabbits that have burrowed into the bank below the maison de retrait.  It also gives the river birds, such as moorhens, ducks and herons better cover too.  However, one morning we heard the sounds of the tractor-mowers that are used to tidy everything up and sure enough the Mairie’s maintenance department had commenced the upkeep of the north bank of the Dordogne.  By mid-afternoon the entire area had been mowed which gave me my best chance to see if I could look closely at the flowers.  Mind you, the rabbits weren’t overly happy about having lost their cover!

The river in bloom
The river in bloom (with new 2nd floor terrace visible behind)

Here’s as close a view as I was able to get without paddling…

Podostemaceae, or silverweed
The delicate flowers of Podostemaceae

I managed to upset a couple of moorhens that were nesting in the grasses along the edge of the river.  I sat for 15 minutes or so listening to the highly indignant “puk!puk!puk!” of one of them.  In this shot you can just see her escaping my intrusion.

One upset moorhen in flight

A mallard was less bothered by my presence, but the large grey heron who stalks the river took off each time that I got into his line of sight.  Finally I decided that it was time to wander back to the house.  As I turned to climb the bank I was intrigued by a small square opening in the earth, clearly man-made.  I scrambled up the bank to take a look.  It seemed to be an access for water pipes or something, not an interesting Alice-in-Wonderland opening to somewhere else.  As I began to move away I caught a movement inside it in from the corner of my eye.  Stepping back to peer more closely inside this is what I found:

One terrified rabbit. Had it not moved in panic I never wouold have seen it!

All in all, a pretty good short walk along the river.

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