Saturday, 13 October 2007

Of Birds and Beasts

Written in an email to friends in August
The buddleia by the veranda is attracting red admiral and peacock butterflies. Sparrows fly down onto the veranda for insects and in the fields beyond we watch the starlings with their young sitting in gaggles on the electricity wires that are looped from pole to pole between farms. The local town is full of house martins and swifts. Buzzards and kites hunt the fields and on hot evenings frogs set up a chorus from the stream in the bottom of the valley. I think we have nightingales in the copse behind the derelict cottage.

As we walk round the veranda and garden we catch a flicker out of the corners of our eyes as small lizards that have been sunning themselves dive for cover. Bees are everywhere – including great black 747 bees with a deep roaring drone – respect!

The first few mornings we found small black droppings round our table on the veranda – too big for mice, not seen squirrels, so what? Friends tell us it’s probably a loir, the French version of a dormouse, but bigger than we know in the UK, bred by the Romans for food – how could they! Apparently most old houses have them.

There’s also something in the kitchen, heard but not seen – may be a “rongeur” which just translates as rodent, so no clue there. Apparently it has a small bandit mask across its eyes (seems appropriate for a food-stealer!). So we’re being more careful about clearing up crumbs and all packet food is now in plastic boxes.

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