Sunday, 25 September 2011

France - Wild birds and guns

As well as the animals at the house itself, the area was full of bird life - it was great.

One of the main features of the area is the Etang de Saint-Estephe, a man-made reservoir just outside the village. The day we walked around, it was slightly overcast and there wasn't that much about. However, walking past a pine tree, I noticed is was absolutely alive with House Martins, busy feeding on the seeds within the pine cones.

As we continued our walk, I spotted a Pied Flycatcher sitting on a branch. This was rather nice, as I'd never seen one before, not that I realised what it was until I got home.

This was obviously a day for firsts as we also spotted a Willow Warbler towards the end of our circuit of the reservoir. Again, another first time spot.

As well as birds, there were lizards. This little guy, a Common or Viviparous Lizard, was spotted warming himself as best he could on a tree stump.

There was also plenty of wildlife to be found back at the house. A number of bird feeders were attracting incredible numbers of Great Tits...

... as well as Blue Tits.

A couple of the bushes next to one of the barns was attracting a large number of House Sparrows.

The bees were attracted to all the flowers in bloom, including this Carpenter Bee.

In the woodland to the rear of the house there are Woodpeckers, Great-spotted, Green and Grey-headed are all to be found, as well as this, which I actually thought was a woodpecker at first, a Nuthatch.

The surrounding area is mainly wood and farmland. This gives the perfect habitat for Buzzards. This one below could be found, a lot of the time, sitting on one of the fence posts of a field we regularly drove past. Unfortunately it was a fence post at the opposite side of the field.

Another experience we had was of "La Chasse à Courre", or hunting with hounds, in this instance for Wild Boar and Deer. This is is perfectly legal when done right but no less scary with gun shots going off in the field next to you and the barking of the pack of hounds echoing around the countryside - especially when there are two domesticated pigs in the garden!

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