Belval en Argonne


Nearby Belval pond

is the main attraction to naturalists in the area. This is a protected site.

Wildlife is all around

wildlife will be in your range as soon as you start catching faint sounds, soft rustles, perceive fleeting and slight movements. Below, the doe pointing its ears over a reed bed. The pictures were taken by Philippe Gille, a naturalist whom you may meet on Belval pond.

n in the morning miin Belval en Argonne.

Roe deer in the morning mist in Belval en Argonne.

Birdwatching souslorme-argonne.fr gite rn ArgonneBelval church roof, emerging in the middle of the pastures
This is a favorable place for the wagtail, the wren, an occasional curlew, or, loud and high in the skies, the lark.

Natural reserve

The pond stretches from the road to Belval village, and is a 504 acres natural reserve (protected Natura 2000 since 2012). It is a dwelling and passage to a multitude of bird species, some preferring the banks or dykes, others the reeds, the skies, the surrounding meadows. Below, one autumn afternoon, two hinds and a fawn take a bath, surrounded by mallard ducks, gray herons and large egrets.

 

The great egret, a familiar dweller of the pond, in search of a meal. Below, the gray heron.


Belval. Couple of gray herons, competing early morning for a good look

Belval. Couple of gray herons, competing early morning for a good lookout.

The bittern

This water fowl is often heard, reigning over the pond in spring and summer, but it is rarely seen. It is usually wading somewhere in the thick reed beds. Its hornlike bellow bears very far. It is a mysterious call, like a fog horn.  The bittern crossed the photographer’s lense one early morning, probably unaware of any presence, as it fears humans. It proceeded confidently on the shallows,  neck thrust forward, ready to push a couple of these bellowing sounds.  It went its way, without noticing the gazing photographer behind the lense.

Above: bulls sometimes in summer enjoy the company of frail herons, called cattle egrets. The birds lingered for a few days in this meadow, on the road to Sommeilles. The deal is simple: the egrets chase the stinging flies,  and, in exchange, they enjoy protection from the bulls.

Below, the lanius (shrike, passerine), seen on a fence on the road to Belval water tower. This male is on the lookout for insects. In an approachable mood, it allows its portrait being taken.

         

Observation

Spring evening surprise encounter: that of a wildcat and a fox. They stood straight, in mutual intimidation, ready to jump at each other. Finally,  it was the fox who figured out wisely that any further action might turn out badly for him. Below, our friend the fox, observed another evening, coming in from hunting. He holds in his muzzle three voles, evening meal for his family.

In autumn, the stag, like a king of the forest, seen walking in majestic style over this clearing.