Some Provençal Wildlife

In the first six months of our stay here, I hadn’t actually seen an awful lot of wildlife.

There was the wolf pawprint in the snow (but no actual wolf, phew)…

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…a dead deer at the side of the road (I know who to call next time THAT happens), a brief glimpse of a sanglier in the woods when Doug the Dog was chasing it and, months later, a glimpse of a shadow, rustling branches in the scrub as it rushed away – a deer? another sanglier?

There have been many large birds of prey soaring overhead.  I am entirely useless at identifying large raptors, probably because there’s not much call for that skill in Ireland.  Garden birds, yes.  Water birds, I’m not bad.  Large raptors, nope.  Although, recently, we learned how to positively identify Jean le Blanc, the short-toed snake eagle (I much prefer the name Jean le Blanc).  It’s mostly white underneath – hence the name, I suppose.

It helps when you manage to photograph the giant birds of prey but not always :

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I think this is a (common) buzzard but I’m not sure – if anyone out there can enlighten me, please do!

Since May, we’ve seen a few squished hedgehogs and badgers on the road.  Not terribly nice to see, poor little things!   Then when Ash and the YD were settling into the garden shed (their summer residence) they heard a snuffling, rustling noise one evening and were delighted to see a little hedgehog come toddling around the corner.  There are two in our garden, apparently, one of which is missing an eye!

We’ve been seeing more and more foxes running across the road at nighttime over the course of the summer, too.  They seem to be more grey than the foxes we see at home – I’m not sure if I’m imagining that or not… maybe it’s just the local ones.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving home from the Gorge du Verdon late in the evening and Ash suddenly yelled “Wild Boar!”  We stopped and looked – there were about ten sangliers in a field beside the road.

The LSH whipped out his camera and took these photos.  Sorry they’re a bit blurred, but it was practically dark – it’s a miracle they came out at all!

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The family group

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This guy was fearless

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He came right up beside the jeep and stared at us

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Then it all became too much for him and he walked away in a dignified manner

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before breaking into a run!

Last Monday evening, I was riding out with Freya, a visiting Australian musician.  The LSH was with us, but he took a shortcut through some trees while we rode across a field to enter the woods.  Next thing there was an almighty crashing through the trees into which the LSH had disappeared, which frightened the pants off poor Aero.  He stopped dead, neck up like a giraffe’s, ears sharply pricked, eyes out on stalks, snorting like a dragon.

WTF was the LSH doing?  Was he smashing his way through the trees, dragging Cookie in his wake?  Or had she escaped and was he trying to catch her?  Was he deliberately trying to spook the horses as a joke?

It wasn’t the LSH, or even Cookie!  Just as I shouted out “What are you doing?” a beautiful chestnut-coloured doe came bounding out of the trees and landed on the lane in front of us, less than ten metres away.  She was so close that I could see the panic in her eyes as she spotted the horses and quickly changed direction, bouncing down the lane in front of us for a stride or two before diving into the undergrowth on the other side.

WOW!  Freya and I were absolutely thrilled!  That’s the closest either of us had ever been to a wild deer.

There was no chance of a photo, though, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I’m happy that I can no longer say I haven’t seen much wildlife.  I hope I’ll see even more as the months go by!

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8 thoughts on “Some Provençal Wildlife

  1. Wow, you have a lot of native animals! There are bears way up in the Alps, but probably not in the French part. There are European Lynxes not that far from here though.
    The deer are no trouble here. I was really surprised that even in the middle of all the snow last winter they did not come down to the horses’ feeders and start helping themselves.
    And yes, geese are messy!

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  2. I’ve never seen a wild boar. Pretty neat. We have red foxes around here and grayish coyotes. I did see a wolf once and we have wild turkeys with their babies right now. They come and feed on our lawn every night. Don’t even mention wild deer they are the bane of our existence. They never stop eating the bushes and destroying gardens. But the baby fawns are adorable. I did see a bear once crossing the street at twilight right in front of my car while I was pulling the horse trailer. We’ve heard rumors that some mountain lions have been spotted here too. The county imported them to keep the deer population down. Apparently, they’re not doing their job. The Canadian geese have taken over the farm and they’re annoying because they poop everywhere. We have a resident hawk that sits on the light post every morning predawn and catches mice. I hope he sticks around. Seems all of us who live in the country get treated to so much more wildlife than the city dwellers. I’m happy about that.

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