Wildlife and Weather: June 2014 Update

Beautiful swallowtail on our buddleia. I had to wait 10 minutes for this shot.
Beautiful swallowtail on our buddleia. I had to wait 10 minutes for this shot.

Visitors who are used to the constant hum of city life sometimes ask us, “Don’t you find it a bit quiet here?” The answer is no. I’ve never been a city-dweller by temperament and much prefer la France profonde. I sometimes miss the opportunity to pop out to art galleries, cinemas, theatres and so on. But, actually, I’m not sure I took advantage of them when they were on the doorstep. Instead, we have a wonderful array of bird and wildlife.

Recently, we have watched the antics of golden orioles as they bicker and whistle in the treetops; enjoyed frequent glimpses of a delightful pair of hoopoes, who must be nesting nearby; been ousted from our own covered balcony by nesting redstarts who must not be disturbed; shooed deer away from my roses only to have them return five minutes later; sadly, disposed of a weasel, which the cat had left uneaten under the car; and observed a large hare (below) grazing contentedly in the back field before taking a nap. To name but a few.

Laid-back hare


Contemplating a nap
Contemplating a nap

The good weather in June assisted these sightings, since we often took a walk down the lane at dusk, when the animals come out.

Weather assessment for June

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In June, there were:

Pluses – 20
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 2

The graph shows the percentage of plus days each June for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). Compared with June 2013, which was dire, this June was positively tropical. Even so, it was only around the average. We’ve had seven better and nine worse. But as you can see from the chart, there is a lot of variation – and the trend line points downwards.

Weather in June 2014 compared with previous years
Weather in June 2014 compared with previous years


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This June we had 60 mm of rain compared to an average of 59 mm for the month, so just about spot on what you would expect. But it rained on seven days as opposed to the average of 9.2.

This year, which started off very wet, the rainfall so far totals 484.5 mm against an average of 460 mm for January to June. So we are still around 5% above average. But the past few months have been rather dry.

Rainfall 2014 to date
Rainfall 2014 to date

This is more than can be said for July, which started hot, sultry and thundery and has now turned just damp and cool. Good for the garden, I suppose.

The French are very fond of weather dictons (proverbs), so let’s see what the old saws say about July:

Ne vous plaignez pas s’il tonne en juillet ; car en ce mois s’il ne tonnait, guerre et famine il y aurait. Don’t complain if it thunders in July; if it didn’t, we’d have war and famine.

In that case, I suppose it’s better to put up with it.

You might also like:

Hoopoes and SW France Weather April 2014
Watery Walk: La Vallée de la Bonnette
Dry Gardening

Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved




  1. That swallowtail butterfly is stunning! And the hare is such a mystical animal, he/she must feel very safe to nap like that. Perhaps not many foxes around?


    • I was amazed that the hare just settled down for what was obviously a nap for an hour or so. In fact, I have seen a fox here recently, but the hare plainly felt secure. If I hadn’t already seen him/her moving about, I would have thought it was a clump of grass. Pity I couldn’t get a closer shot.


  2. As ever a lovely read and some gorgeous photos – I am a hare lover so those hit the spot but the butterfly …. really – a shot worthy of any wildlife photography competition … chapeau! I absolutely love the saying about July and thunder and must say I am now very very relieved that we are getting plenty in the old Massif!


    • Thanks so much for your kind words. The hare was too far away for me to get a better shot – but I love them, too. I had to wait a long time to get the butterfly. It kept moving (as they do) just as I clicked the shutter. However, I am quite proud of that shot, if I say so myself. We certainly don’t lack rain this July, so the lawn has greened up again.


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