08 June 2009

2006: Circuit de la Côte des Ajoncs

08 June

Today, I'd almost decided not to take camera with me. See, the temperatures have been marvelous in the low- to mid-20s centrigrade since the first of June, and I was thinking it would not be a good idea to (1) leave the camera in the car (2) while I went swimming. Too much chance of being nicked (not good) or cooked (not much better). However, the weather, while warm, was not warm enough to ward off the stiff east wind, and water temps kept me from thinking that a dip would be a "happy" thing.

So, when I stopped la voiture (car, a feminine noun) along the Circuit de la Côte des Ajoncs (and I STILL have no idea what "Ajoncs" means), I was expecting to do nothing more than soak up a bit of sunshine out of the wind, eat a bit of excellent gouda cheese, and slurp down orange juice. While I was doing so, I noticed (1) low tide means there is an incredible amount of land between the high tide mark and the water, and if memory served (and it did), (2) high tide would arrive about 1800 (6pm). About the same time, (3) I noticed several passerines (perching birds) playing on the granite rocks along the shore.

Of course, as soon as the camera was ready, they disappeared. So I waited. Patiently. For 3.5 hours.

I had a book. A good book. The car was used as a "blind", something that the birds can get used to that does NOT look like a human.

And I was out of the pretty hairy wind.

Among the first interesting sights to be seen, two Turtle Doves playing on the rocks. I couldn't figure out what they were doing, but contented myself with the quick photo op.

A few minutes later, =Egretta Garzetta=, a beautiful white bird that reminds me of (and could possibly be) a Snowy Egret. For 30 minutes, it plied the shoreline on the far side of the little cove, in full sight, but too far for photos. When the egret disappeared from sight, I figured today had been fun, and was considering heading home when TWO egrets appeared less than 50 feet away. Shutter blazed, and some fine shots were acquired.

[ 2009: The egret turned out to be the Snowy's European cousin, the Little Egret ]

Lastly, I had just decided the day was a complete success, as egret, cheese, and juice were now gone, and exposed limbs tanned, when the passerine that started the stakeout appeared less than 12 feet away. Twenty seconds later, it was gone, but time enough for a few decent shots of still one more bird I couldn't identify. He seemed quite surprised I was there, yet was not spooked by the noise of the shutter. [ 2009: He's STILL unidentified :) ]


Lastly, one last photo opportunity begged me leave the highway upon viewing the church in Langoat. The lighting was incredible, and a local woman chatted while I was attempting to find the proper angles to fit the lighting... At first, she thought a woman alone taking pictures was unusual, but apparently I convinced her I was only crazy, and she left for home smiling as I did the same...


Roads are pretty much the same almost everywhere: Though major highways are usually divided affairs, even if only by a strip of paint, you are not guaranteed two lanes of through traffic. This becomes problematic most frequently between towns, as the countryside is now your buffer, and that buffer is typically a ditch bounded by a 10-foot ridge of scruffy plants. Driving is a matter of prophecy and luck, and your ability to keep from speaking with insurance- and gendarmerie-types is dependent upon the skills of those on the road at the moment you pass a particular point.

To be sure, this is frequently the case everywhere you are, but considering the lack of visibility AND the lack of roadway in far too many places with which to respond, I'm surprised the rural French survive at times. But they do.


You haven't lived until you've watched a full-sized tractor trailer rig whipsaw past a hay wagon on a D road, doing so from what was, in essence, a standing stop of only 5-10 mph, the wagon's back bumper, and less than 100 feet of visibility. EEEHHAA!


Lizbeth, I found a mongrel dog that matched Earl for volume and persistence. Port Blanc, just north of Les Plage des Dunes. For the record, I could not see the ghosts he was deterring. He didn't appear to be local to the beach, as there was only one house nearby, and the owner of the home would occasionally look at disgust at le chien as it went about its war with the invisible. Another canine, visible underneath the front bumper of a van parked on that stretch, had me wondering if the two were together. Unlike his cousin, bumper dog was silent the entire visit.

Oh. EarlDog could be heard from Les Plages des Dunes, probably a decent kilometre away (though he did have the wind advantage), and from the rocks north of his position about 400 metres (as I was trying to reach a particular outcropping that eventually turned out to have water between it and myself, even at low tide).

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