After all of the tree watching, bird spotting, plant checking and everything else, we have found out what actually indicates the arrival of spring in this part of the world.
Suddenly the fields are no longer empty. On Easter Sunday at about 10am the farmer opened the doors of his barn next door to us and the cattle, including a couple of very young calves literally ran out and charged around the field in absolute delight. Moments later, a couple of other fields had the same experience with other groups from his herd.
Words cannot express the joy we felt at seeing the all-white Charolais cattle back on the rich verdant meadows after more than three months inside their barns. A trip out yesterday showed the same picture in fields all over the area. This is cattle country and has looked decidedly wrong over the winter with all the fields empty.
The weather over Easter has been glorious. We erected our gazebo for the first time ever and have been playing badminton and pétanque on the field. We have friends from UK staying with us and it is really good to have decent weather.
On the wildlife front, we saw our first Blackcap yesterday. It was dead, presumably crashed into a window. Sad business. The Blackcap is one of those species that is semi-migratory. Some of the population goes south for winter and some stays home. Those that stay home breed within their population as do those that migrate. The proportion of sedentary to migratory in any year is affected by migation difficulties, which can reduce the proportion of migratories and by the harshness of winter, which can reduce the proportion of sedentaries.
It looks as though the local wildcat has bred, possibly with a feral queen. This is the result:
I don’t know much about wildcats so I may be dead wrong with this.
The swallows are back, and it looks like they are using our outbuildings for breeding again this year. We have also seen Black Kites around the area. We took a trip yesterday to the plan d’eau des Fades-Besserve, where the Sioule and Sioulet rivers join. It’s a fabulous place and there many Black Kites living in the hills across from the beach at the pont de Bouchet. The views from the viewpoint at the top of the hills are simply stunning.
Yes, Spring is definitely here, our first spring in France, and it is glorious.
Just waiting for the forms to arrive now so I can complete my first French tax return. Our deep joy knows no bounds.
STOP PRESS 1. Clare heard a cuckoo this morning
STOP PRESS 2. Dutch electrician Casper was in our house on Saturday and Sunday fixing up the electrics in the new bathroom, so we now have light. He promises to do the ventilation later this week.
À la prochaine