Anteaters in Poitou-Charentes !!?

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I have received two reports of people seeing Anteaters in the Poitou-Charentes region.Doue30

This is a photo of the Giant Anteater which I took in France a few years ago, however this one was in a Zoo at Doue which is just outside the Poitou-Charentes region, (to the North)

The first report I had was in October 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm and said

‘My wife and I saw an anteater (yes!) obviously it must be an escapee from somewhere but have you heard of any other sightings in the Charente?’

The second more recent report was today February 8th 2016 and said

‘You are right about the anteater sighting and it is still there. We were driving from ferry at Caen to Aubeterre this morning and it crossed the road in front of us near Montmoreau St Cybard at about 3.00am. We had all our lights on and it was fully illuminated and about 15 metres in front of us. We have been looking on line since as we could not understand how it could be there but pleased that someone else has seen it’

It would be good to know where the first people saw their Anteater, I will try to contact them. I have looked up ‘escaped anteaters ‘ on the internet but there are no references that I can find. I would think that these people have probably made a good identification as these animals are fairly distinctive both in shape and colouration. The only animal which could possibly be confused with an anteater might be a badger but they are quite different.

I have now been in contact with the first observer and this is what they had to add to their first communication

‘Whilst I can be quite certain of the area it was in i.e. Basic, Gondeville, St Meme Les Carrieres I have to use caution regarding the precise road which were, at that time, unfamiliar to ourselves.
 I can be 100% certain it was an Anteater because, as you say, it is simply impossible to mistake for anything else and we had a good, short range, fully lit by headlights, and long view as it moved relatively slowly and nonchalantly from right to left and its long nose/trunk, just off the ground and moving about, was unmistakeable.’

 

The other thing that concerns me is what they would be feeding on, not that many large ants nests in Poitou-Charentes. I remember once when we were staying on a reserve in Patagonia in Argentina and they had two Anteaters which they were attempting to re introduce into the wild that they were feeding them on a milk and honey based special goo. So has anyone had their gold tops opened a la blue tits in the 1960’s…… can you remember that?

If there are any follow up reports on this I would be keen to hear and of course will keep you all up dated.

Finally this is not April 1st ????? is it, and  I am not being taken for a ride.

What is on In Poitou-Charentes February 2016

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In Poitou-Charentes, this month there are more events on than you might think.mimosador2015

Below is a list of some of them but I have no doubt missed a few , so do let me know if your event is not listed and I will include it. Click on the (more) to find out more about any of the events. This is Truffle season and fairs abound.

Dire le Monde: Saintes:  31st Jan to 3rd Feb (more)

Half Marathon: Bressuire: 6th February (more)

Caroline Vigneaux; Saint Benoit : 10th February (more)

Residence de Autour avec Christope Leon;  3 Avenue Aristide Briand  – 16300 BARBEZIEUX SAINT HILAIRE :11th Feb (more)

Festival les Givres;Melle: 12th to 14th Feb (more)

Johnny Hallyday: L Isle d’Espangnac : 13th Feb (unlucky for some) (more)

Foire de Truffles: Villebois-lavalette : 13th February (more)

Piano Festival ‘Nevermind’: Saintonge: (check web site for other concerts) 14th Feb. (more) 

Mimosa Festival: Saint-Trojan-les Bains: 20th?21st Feb (more)

Festival International d’Echecs de Rochefort – Chess championship: Rochefort: 20th to 26th Feb (more)

Concert Balthazar; Poitiers; 22nd January (more)

Foire de Truffles: Jarnac: every Tuesday morning in February (more)

Ancient Weapons Fair: Poitiers: 28th Feb (more)

 

Why do the English refer to the French as Frogs?

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Calling the French Frogs is not polite but it could be worse….. So what is the origin of this mildly abusive term?

Edible Frog (Rana esculenta)

Edible Frog (Rana esculenta)

There are several possibilities and I will explore some of them.

Barack The French often feature Frogs legs on their menus. How often they eat them I am not sure, possibly more are eaten by curious foreigners. I have eaten them on several occasions and they are OK, they do not taste of much, as they always say ‘a bit like chicken’ and of course they are quite small.

Why would we call the French Frogs just because they occasionally eat them? after all we do not refer to the Italians as Pizzas, or the Japanese as Shushis or the Indians as Curries. I suppose the Germans are sometimes called Krauts and is that to do with Sauerkraut ?

The French were probably not the first people to eat Frogs, In fact we Brits were cooking and eating them long ago. Cooked bones of frogs’ legs have been discovered in an archaeological dig in Amesbury Wiltshire, dating back to between 7596BC and 6250BC, evidence that indicates that they were part of the local diet.

The Chinese who were also eating them a long time ago, back in the first century AD.

One reference to the French eating them is the story that is often quoted which is that Catholic monks were not allowed to eat meat on certain days but could eat fish so they managed to get Frogs classified as fish, and were thus able to have something a little meaty every day of the week.

However many nationalities eat frogs, after all they are common, relatively easy to catch and are a source of protein so it stands to reason that they would be consumed.  I would guess that the French eat more snails than they do frogs so perhaps we should call them Escargots. I therefore think that the origin of the French being known as Frogs is not because they eat them, though the fact that they do, may have added to usage of this term.

Of course using the word Frog as an insult is also strengthened by the spelling, both frog and French begin with the same two letters so the term French frogs trips off the tongue more easily.

Another possible origin is that the term Frogs was used to describe the people of Paris by courtiers at the Place of Versailles. In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable of 1898 by E. Cobham Brewer he quotes the phrase “Qu’en disent les grenouilles?”—What will the frogs (people of Paris) say?—this was in use in 1791 and was a common court phrase at Versailles. At the time the area where Paris is now located was known as Lutetia which means Mud-land and it was surrounded by swamps. So the occupants lived like Frogs and toads in the swamp. The French nobility that would visit Versailles apparently tended to refer to Parisians as frogs because of the swampy surroundings…and only later did the term get picked up to describe the French in general.

As a possible counter attack by the Parisians they coined the word frog as a putdown for non-Parisians.  The sophisticated urbanites sneered at the rural taste for amphibians  and attached the term to everybody but themselves, which is to say the bulk of the national population.

clovis-toadsPossibly the most likely cause of the term relates to heraldry and here there are two lines of thought. One relates to King Clovis who had three frogs or toads on his heraldic shield and flag, at least he did until he converted to Christianity when he adopted the Fleur-de-lis.

It is possible that Nostrodamus was the first person to refer to the French in amphibious terms. The story goes that Nostrodamus (1503 to 1566) had said ‘Les anciens crapauds prendront Sara’ meaning the ancient toads shall take Sara. Sara is Aras spelt backwards,  so Nostradamus got a bit muddled but Clovis did have three toads on his shield and that refers to the Ancient Crapauds  and the French (ancient crapauds ) did take the French city of Aras from the Spaniards albeit somewhat later under Louis 14th. Also it is crapauds which is toads and not frogs but its in the right direction.wpid-Photo-2014032602534419

 

Now as I mentioned earlier, King Clovis converted to Christianity and as part of this the frogs/toads were given the elbow and the Fleurs de Lis was adopted. The French flag then had a blue background with gold fleur-de-lys on it. The ignorant English, not knowing that the fleur-de-lys was supposed to be a flower, though that it represented a gold frog. Hence “frog” became a derogatory term for the French.fleur de lis flag

 

Given that the English and the French have been in conflict on and off throughout history… OK we love them now but if we vote to leave Europe (hopefully not) then how many years before we revert to the default position and end up in conflict again. I am rambling, my point is that soldiers always adopt derogatory terms for their enemies, I wont list all the insults we have thought up for all our foes but I am sure you can think of many. So it is most likely that English soldiers in the past would have invented names for the French and the most likely inspiration for their insults would be what they saw in front of them and that would be the flags, standards and heraldic shields that would adorn the enemy. Frogs, Toads, Fleur de Lis…. all pretty much the same thing especially in the distance and in the haze of battle so French are Frogs.

Frog1

Another story relates to Queen Elizabeth I, (1533 to 1603) who was extremely fond of dancing. At the time dances involved quite a lot of leaping up. There was a young man in the French ambassadorial staff at the court who excelled at these leaps and the queen called him “My little frog”. English courtiers were envious and started using the term as a deprecatory term for all French men. She though would frequently apply the word affectionately to her close friends. She often referred to at least one of her very close friends as “my dear frog,” and at one point this gentleman was her representative in France.

Also, for a brief time she was about-to-be-engaged to the youngest son of Henri II, the Duke of Anjou.  He was 24 and Elizabeth was 46. Despite the age gap, the two soon became very close, Elizabeth dubbing him her “frog”. A few believe this nickname was attributed to a frog-shaped earring he had given her.   Of course, that union came to naught since Elizabeth never did marry.

In the course of researching this I came across a few odd ball suggestions and here is one. ‘ When the French laugh, their adam’s apples bulge out of their necks like frogs.’

On balance I think the most likely explanation is that the origin goes back to the middle ages and it was a term adopted by our soldiers.  Subsequently it has been enhanced by the French liking for frogs legs, but I do not think main  explanation.

 

 

Born this day in 1916 Francois Mitterand.

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Francois Mitterand was born on 27th January 1916 in Jarnac. Check out my earlier blog about him. ‘Francois Mitterand in Jarnac’francois_mitterrand_guerre_787538976_north_320x

Interestingly on the same day Edith Cresson was born, but that was in 1934 and she became France’s first and only female Prime Minister. She was appointed to this position by Francois Mitterand.

Poitoucharentesinphotos; Over 400 likes, and 550 followers.

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This week another 6 people have clicked to say they like this blog, Poitoucharentesinphotos and over 550 people are following the blog. Now I know this is far short of the millions who follow Justin Beiber or Kattie Perry, though why I cannot image.Red squirrel

This site has loads of interesting and diverse stuff and lots of photos like this one.

The total number of ‘like’ clicks is now just over 400, so sometime this year it will probably top 500.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; January 2016

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jma-femme-me-prend-pour-un-sex-toyThere are various site which might help you make good use of all the events which crop up in the towns cities and villages of this region.  The tourist information sites for each of the 4 departments are worth a look. I tend to list the bigger attractions and stuff that interests me. I do not tend to list permanent exhibitions or ones that run for several months. Also markets are listed in another part of this site click (markets)

To see what is on in other months of 2016 click (annual agenda)

 

Ma Femme me prend pour un sex-toy: Gond Pontouvre  7th to 30th January    (more)

Manu Lavin and the Devil Blues: La Rochelle 14th January (more)

Retro mobile Club; Cognac Chateaubernard ;16th and 17th January (more)

Jazz a  Saint Sat: Saint Saturnin 19th to 24th January (more)

Oiron Expostion; Oirion; 23rd January (more)

Michele Fugain-Pluribus (guitar) Bressuire:23rd January (more)

Festival International de la Bande Dessinée: Angouleme: 28th January to 31st January (more)

Mulatu Astake: La Rochelle 27th and  29th January (more)

Foire de Truffles: Jarnac every Tuesday morning through January/February (more)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird trapping

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I thought it was illegal, well here in Andalusia, it is common place and the locals do not seem to be the slightest bit concerned who sees them.

Today is our first full day in Zahora on the Spanish coast, it is south of Cadiz and is where the Battle of Trafalgar took place. Not in Zahora but out to sea from Zahora, the coast juts out and there is a light house called Faro Trafalgar.Spain2

Back to the birds. I could see one group of guys catching them from my balcony and on a short walk up the beach I came across three more groups.Spain21

They have decoys which seem to be Goldfinches in little cages, they set about 6 of these out and then put up some nets. When some birds are decoyed into the area they pull a string and the nets fall down and catch the birds.Spain10

The men then run to the nets and check what they have caught. I did see some fly up and away, whether these were not wanted or whether they escaped I do not know. I also saw one chap stamping on something, whether that was a bird or maybe he was securing the pegs that hold the nets I do not know.Spain6

What I do know is that they were very busy and did not seem at all concerned about me or my camera. It would be so easy to restrict this, all the local police would need to do is drive past every so often and when they found any one doing this to just confiscate their nets and cages. No need to prosecute, simply by removing their equipment it would make it very difficult to replace as I am sure the cost would be quite substantial.

I was directed to a good article about this practice and it is worth a read. Click http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=1542

Photographing the Blood Moon

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Well it was not so easy…… First it was cold and second it was dark. I suppose that was to be expected, but adjusting the camera when your fingers are frozen and you can’t see very well makes life difficult. I did have a torch and that helped.

This is what the moon looked like at 2.45 am ish. At this stage it was kicking out quite a lot of light so a fast shutter speed was needed to get  any detail.Blood Moon1

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Camera club and photoshop.

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Here are two photos from Poitou-Charentes which I am entering into the next completion at my local camera club. It is the Forest of Dean Camera Club, and you might like to have a look at their web site.After the harvest( Rape field in Poitou-Charentes)

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