Monday, 23 July 2012

Lalinde and wildlife

Mauzac Barrage
Saturday we packed the bicycles into the car and drove down to Lalinde on the Dordogne.  It was market day, throngs of people everywhere and cars in every nook and cranny. We were late, so couldn’t find anywhere to park. We drove on, found a spot outside of town with the canal on one side and the towpath along La Dordogne on the other, which was great. Off we tootled on our bikes along the towpath. When travelling along the Loire in the summer, you see lots of sandy islands and a couple of deep channels at this time of year, but La Dordogne is one stretch of water. Not very deep, admittedly, but wonderfully clear.

old ferry boat above the barrage
We biked along, admiring the expensive houses with gardens running down to the water and wondering why there were so many notices declaring Danger! And finally reached  the barrage at Mauzac les Baudies. The barrage is ugly from one side, but pretty on the other, and it is holding back an awful lot of water. A big board told when it was built etc etc, and explained that sudden releases of water, even in summer, can create vicious surges downstream. Hence all the notices to stay away from the river bank. We spent time in the little village, admiring the new sailing boats and the old wooden ferry boat that has weathered to a silver grey. Only the oars were new! We wandered among the old buildings, and then cycled back along the same route.

Sunday morning we decided to attack the invading brambles and nettles beside the pound, which is wht they call the atreams that direct water into what was once the mill pond. When we’d got the patch clear enough to walk to the top of the bank and look down at the stream we cleared out last year, we saw it was full of weed again. I attacked it with a garden rake, and dragged out weeds until dh said ‘There’s a snake!’ Sure enough, a yellow and black head emerged out of the water and weeds. I shot up the bank away from it, rake held at the ready. Then we saw it wasn’t a snake, but a lizard of some kind and felt guilty for disturbing it. When we looked it up on the internet, it’s a fire salamander. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_Salamander

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