A recent trip to Northern France, ostensibly to take my parents to visit WW1 cemetries in search of long dead relatives, was also turned into a moth foray. The place we stayed was in the middle of nowhere but it had electricity. I trapped on four nights and the first one luckily proved warm and cloudy. The catch was much as we might expect here. Dominated by White Ermine and several late May usual suspects such as Brimstone and Swallow Prominent. There were, however, some oddities that we are unlikely to see in England unless perhaps we are prepared to dash over to Dungeness at the drop of a hat. The nicest for me was Three-humped Prominent and my other new species was Dusky Marbled Brown. Hardly surprising given the several Poplars in the garden of the place where we stayed.
The area as a whole was good for nature lovers with several good bird sightings including Montague's Harrier, Honey Buzzard, White Stork and Great Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Black kite and Purple Heron. Other insect highlights included superb views of the elusive Field Cricket at the Parc Ornithologique de Marquenterre in the bay of the Somme estuary.
All in all, an interesting week with all the sombre shadows of the Somme battlefields still hanging over what was otherwise a pleasantly rolling landscape with few hedges, long straight roads and no traffic. Reminders of the horrors that had happened there were still evident almost 100 years after the event. At one roadside pull-in, where we stopped for a quartering harrier, my wife looked down and there in the dirt was a uniform button (still under investigation but probably French) and further along that same road a complete rusting shell lying half buried in roadside soil (they wouldn't let me bring that back). The memorials and cemeteries were around every corner and really gave you a lasting impression of both the scale of the horror and for me, the sheer blind luck that by some fluke my Grandfather made it through when so many thousands around him didn't. The first day of July will somehow never be the same.