|Birds List||·||Mammals List||·||Reptiles List||·||Insects List|
The main avian species in our immediate area (positively identified by sight or by call at various times of the year) are:
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
A little further north, we have also seen Booted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles and Hen Harrier. As species are seen and identified they will be added to this list.
Three Black Storks drifted over our patch in a SSW direction early in October on their annual journey to Africa as did a few Black Kites some days later then nine Red Kites on 22nd October. I think we may be in a migration corridor.
|We are well blessed with European Buzzards in the immediate area, even having the odd one perched in our old oak tree at the bottom of the field.There are at least three groupings in separate woodland areas and their call is one of the more common background sounds in the area.They can also be seen from time to time resting in our Oak tree – perhaps looking out for Ermintrude (see below)|
|And it’s not just Buzzards. Although there are none nesting in the immediate area, we do enjoy the occasional visit from a Black Kite|
|Three clutches of swallows hatched in one of our outbuildings during the course of the summer of 2006 (and every year since) and the
constant to-ing and fro-ing of parents and calls of young pre-fledging was an almost constant feature of the summer.On fledging the young remained close and active for some considerable time until, in mid- September, all the swallows disappeared – presumably to their pre-migration gathering place (which we have yet to find).Young swallows frequently come into the house through open doors and windows. Mostly they just come in, turn around, and fly out again; but, occasionally, one stays a bit longer. This one was in my study for about twenty minutes – quite calm – and eventually found its way out again.
|The Chiffchaffs have bred in the same trees and bushes as the sparrows and, as they are still about in numbers in late-October, I think they are here for the winter.We have put out feeders (one of which the Great Tit has found).|
|The humble House Sparrow shares the elder tree with the Chiffchaff quite happily. So far (late October 2006) none of them, or the Black Redstarts or Robins, which frequent the same tree, has spotted the feeders. However, with free-range chickens close by, with the food supply that entails, they will probably only use the feeders when they really need them.|
|We have, of course, at least one pair of kestrels
(Falco tinnunculus) in the area. This male sat on the electricity pole here for most of the morning.
|Great Tits have taken up residence for the winter and are making good use of the various feeders.|
|… as are the Blue Tits,|
|… and the Robins, who arrived at about the same time.|
|A group of almost a dozen Yellowhammers arrived at the same time as the snow.|
|This juvenile Dunnock spends a lot of time hopping around on the ground looking for the small insects that make up most of its diet.Here the poor thing is covered in drizzle, whilst I was inside in the warm, photographing it through double glazed French doors.|
|Another visitor to our feeders is the pretty little Nuthatch. Not seen much in the summer, this little fellow was also pictured whilst I was inside in the warm, photographing it through double glazed windows.|
|At long last, we know who is responsible for stripping the bark from our oak tree – it’s the Great Spotted Woodpecker who, incidentally, is also rather partial to fat balls!|
|A rare visitor. We have only seen a cock Linnet twice in more than two years. Lovely song, though. Makes you want to pick it up and follow a van.|
|Seen only once, this Night Heron flew across the étang de Lachenal and perched in a tree opposite us on 2nd May, 2013. The Night Heron is mostly only present around large rivers: the Allier and Loire. It is very rare in your part of the Combrailles.|
|e have a small number of bats around the hamlet. I’m not 100% sure to which species they belong, as it is always too dark and too fleeting a view, but I believe them to be Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus – Pipistrelle commune).There is a Wild Cat (Felis silvestris – Chat forestier) in the area. It is unmistakeable because of its stocky build, its colour and markings and its bushy, ringed tail. There is also a group of cats living in the barn next door that are, as far as we can tell, pretty much feral and the wild tom has visited (see image).A regular patron is the Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus – Mulot sylvestre) also known as Long-tailed Field Mouse. This diminutive rodent can often be seen, either singly or in pairs, helping itself to the food we put out for the birds or just occasionally, in winter, scuttling around indoors! The Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus - Rat surmalot), also unavoidable in rural areas, is also rather partial to peanuts put out for the birds.Other mammals include Pigmy Shrew (Sorex minutus – Musaraigne pygmée) and Short-tailed Field Voles (Microtus arvalis – Campagnol des champs), brought in for us by our late cat, and Moles (Talpa europaea – Taupe d’Europe) – rarely seen but oh, so active in our patch!We have also seen a Southern Water Vole (Arvicola sapidus – Campagnol amphibie) in the banks of the pond, and we believe we have seen a Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus – Rat musqué) scampering around the pond area.August 2009 we saw our first Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus – Lièvre brun). Sadly, it couldn’t wait for me to run indoors and get a camera!|
|We spotted an Ermine (Mustela erminea – Hermine) hunting among the tussocks at the back of the house in mid-January 2007. Being mostly snow white against a dark background in an area that is well populated with buzzards may, however, be seen by some as a high risk strategy! Especially as one buzzard was sat in our old oak tree watching her. Sorry about the poor quality image – it was the best I could manage.For no reason other than that it suited us we decided she was female and named her Emintrude.|
|A welcome nocturnal visitor to our garden is the Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus – Hérisson d’Europe). We are hoping this creature will help cut down our slug population!|