Category Archives: Nature

Tree Pests: Pine Processionary Caterpillars

I trained my binoculars on the tree and zoomed in. My suspicions were confirmed. There was no doubt that the beginnings of a white cocoon about halfway up were the work of pine processionary caterpillars. If you look closely, you … Continue reading

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Opération Escargot

France’s cuisine was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2010, when it was included in the list of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Why “intangible”? Good food might be a consolation for the soul, but it’s also a feast for most … Continue reading

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Badgers in the Bush?

Like most people, we have a part of our garden of which we are less than proud. It’s where we dump grass cuttings, leaves and other garden rubbish that we don’t put in the compost bins. Fortunately, it’s shielded by … Continue reading

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The First Cuckoo?

Happy Easter, Joyeuses Pâques à tout le monde. Easter this year has coincided with the clocks going forward for summertime and, I think, the first cuckoo. When I hung out of the window this morning listening to the birdsong, I … Continue reading

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Where Have All the Small Birds Gone?

Yesterday, we stopped by our retired farmer neighbour’s place for a chat. We remarked that it would be only a matter of weeks before the cuckoo, the first of the migratory birds, arrives. We love hearing that piping sound, which … Continue reading

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When the Weather is Springlike in Autumn

I’m in the throes of the literary lunacy called National Novel Writing Month, and creating my second Corsica novel. This is not an easy task and it is made doubly difficult by the phenomenally warm weather we have experienced during the … Continue reading

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Autumn Colours

This autumn the colours are magnificent, made all the more vivid and luminous by the exceptionally warm weather for the end of October. A brisk, but warm, wind from the south has chased away the clouds and polished the sky … Continue reading

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SW France Summer Weather 2015

We had a great holiday on Corsica a couple of weeks ago. And it was a good thing we went then, because we had nice weather for the most part. One week later and it would have been quite different: … Continue reading

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Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest

I lifted the trapdoor into the loft of our pigeonnier with infinite care. On the ceiling, right over my head were the unmistakable signs of very unwanted summer visitors, accompanied by a tell-tale buzzing. I shut the trapdoor fast and … Continue reading

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Another Seasonal Hazard in SW France: Mosquitoes

Here’s another seasonal hazard: mosquitoes. I am their favourite meal. There are several reasons for that (see below) and they are becoming more of a pest down here. Do you have blood group O? Do you have a high metabolic … Continue reading

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Noises Off on a Country Evening

The poor old blog has been sorely neglected of late. The trouble is that there’s this pesky thing called work, a necessary evil that keeps me away from what I really want to do. And it’s nearly always at its … Continue reading

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Hares

You don’t often see them, since they are shy creatures and hide in the long grass. But at this time of year, once the hay has been cut, you’re more likely to see a hare around here. I love our rare … Continue reading

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The Biggest Moth in Europe

Living in the comparatively unspoilt French countryside, one comes to appreciate the richness and variety of the wildlife. How about this for a wingspan? 14 cm is not very big compared to an A380 but when you’re a moth it’s … Continue reading

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Cuckoos, Birdsong and SW France Weather March 2015

  Bonnes Pâques à tout le monde. I had hoped to report the cuckoo’s arrival, but it’s dragging its heels (or whatever cuckoos have) this year. A friend 10 km to the south said it had arrived over a week … Continue reading

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Woodpeckers and Weather: January 2015 in Southwest France

  This is the acrobatic great spotted woodpecker that manages to cling onto the fat balls we hang out during cold weather (the red splodge on its head marks it out as a male). We haven’t seen this for several years, so … Continue reading

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Weather in Southwest France August 2014

We are currently enjoying a glorious Indian summer with wall-to-wall blue skies and sunshine. And what better way to illustrate it than with a photo of our hoopoe friends, who will shortly be departing – more of them below. What … Continue reading

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Wildlife and Weather: June 2014 Update

Visitors who are used to the constant hum of city life sometimes ask us, “Don’t you find it a bit quiet here?” The answer is no. I’ve never been a city-dweller by temperament and much prefer la France profonde. I … Continue reading

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Hoopoes and SW France Weather April 2014 

Some of our summer visitors are quite exotic. The golden orioles are rarely seen, except as flashes of yellow and black in the treetops, but they make their presence known with parrot-like caws and whistles. The hoopoes are distinguished by … Continue reading

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Nightingales in Southwest France

  I heard the first nightingale of the year on Wednesday. Other people say they have been around for a couple of weeks but they seem to arrive later and later chez nous in recent years. The unmistakable sliding, virtuoso … Continue reading

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Spring in Southwest France

  Well, this year it’s easy to tell it’s arrived. The weather has generally been lovely in April – with the occasional off-day. More often, April is cold and windy. The fine weather has brought everything out early and many … Continue reading

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Heart of Oak

When you live in a place for long enough, you start to take the landscape a little for granted. But if you stop and look a while, you ask yourself how it would be without all those trees clothing the … Continue reading

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Woodpeckers!

We have vandals in la France profonde but they aren’t the human variety. After the ravages of deer, wild boar and moles – next up are woodpeckers. The first three have confined themselves to destroying the garden (bad enough); not … Continue reading

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Moles!

Living en pleine campagne, the animal kingdom is in daily evidence. Some animals are more welcome than others. The baby hedgehogs living under a bush by our kitchen door, the red squirrels and the hares are delightful. I love to … Continue reading

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Answer to Last Week’s Conundrum: Potter Wasps

Last week I set a conundrum: what do these photos represent? Actually, it wasn’t much of a conundrum, since Caroline got it within five minutes of my posting. I shall have to come up with some more difficult ones for … Continue reading

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Lichen to This

‘Why don’t you write a post about lichen?’ the SF asked recently, inspired by the plentiful specimens adorning the walls of our barn. What I knew about lichen would go on the proverbial postage stamp – not that this usually … Continue reading

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Montgolfières and Shooting Stars

  The sky is where it’s all at for the moment – whether during the day or at night. We have been enjoying luminous days with improbably blue skies for the past few days. The evenings are, alas, starting to … Continue reading

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Trip to the Camargue 1

It’s flat. Very flat. And most of it is barely a metre above sea level. The Camargue is a precious wetland area, the delta of the River Rhône, and a national park. I stayed there for a few days in … Continue reading

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Hedgehogs in the Bush

Occasionally in the winter when it’s grey and cold and summer seems a long way off – like this year – I wonder what the hell we are doing here in la France profonde. Then something happens that makes you … Continue reading

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Let There Not Be Light: Light Pollution in France

One of the things that attracted us to this place back in 1997 was the lack of light pollution. We came house-hunting in April that year and enjoyed skies of cloudless blue in the daytime and inky velvet at night, … Continue reading

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Orchids and SW France Weather April 2013

Orchids grow abundantly in our region at this time of year. We have good and bad orchid years – no doubt a reflection of the weather we’ve had. This year is a good one. Our walking group took a route … Continue reading

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