a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Motorway mice or rather motorway voles


Mouse on grass

Coming back from our trip to Maubuisson we stopped on the motorway to stretch our legs and have a cup of coffee.  I settled down at an outside picnic table to sip my coffee when I thought I saw something run across the grass.

Mouse in hole

It was then that I noticed that there were a large number of holes in the grass.  The sun was setting and it was not too easy to see into the holes.

Mouse looks out hole

A little bit of patience paid off.

Mouse sits in hole

I realised that a picnic area could provide mice with a good supply of food and I thought of all the sandwiches and biscuits that would be accidentally dropped from the picnic tables every day.

Mouse coming out of hole

Nobody else seemed to have noticed them.  I suppose people were content with their drinks and ice creams.

Mouse on grass

They were well camouflaged as they scuttled across the sun baked grass.

Mouse slides into hole

They exited from one hole and soon found another to dive into.

Mouse close up

I’m not sure how many people would have appreciated sharing the picnic area with the mice (short tailed voles, Microtis agrestis) but I enjoyed watching their antics and let my coffee get cold.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

24 thoughts on “Motorway mice or rather motorway voles

  1. I see their holes in the grass under the olives but have only once caught sight of a mouse making a hasty retreat at the sound of my footsteps.


    • Susan has come to my aid again, so I would like to let you know that they are not mice but short tailed voles. Like you I see the occasional mouse in the garden. sometimes they appear when I am watering and scuttle off disgusted with their impromptu shower.


  2. These are Short-tailed Voles Microtis agrestis, not mice. I am most impressed with your photos — they are not easy to capture with the camera as they move so fast. I wrote about the ones that live in my orchard here.


  3. Thank you, once more, Susan. I did think they looked a bit different from our grey mice I sometimes see in the garden. I’m not too good separating the mice, voles and shrews. I had never heard of putting down shelter for them in the garden. It is a very good idea.


  4. Nice pictures! Voles are very cute. I used to have several in my yard, even had a few that would come up to me and take nuts right from my hand (I got it on video too). Haven’t seen some in a while though. 😦 We have a lot of hawks and a fox in the neighborhood now.


    • That is amazing to have them as tame as that. Susan encourages them by putting out sheets of corrugated iron and planks in her woodland area to give them shelter. Maybe you could tempt them back by providing them with something like that. She also writes that they are a favourite prey of owls 😦


  5. How sweet! We get both mice and voles in our garden, but thank goodness not in large numbers. They are so fast I hardly get a chance to look at them to identify them! The holes they make are the tell-tale signs. These motorway mice/voles have chosen a good spot – nice photos!


  6. We have a lot of trouble with small animals wanting to move in with us for the winter.


  7. Cute. Sometimes I like watching the tiny mice that live in the London underground, they skittle about when it gets quiet.


  8. The lawn margins and meadow where I work are riddled with vole holes, Amelia. I’m still hopeful that in time owls will move in. Though I hear tawnies often (from lunchtime onwards) I have yet to see one. Dave


  9. Those are such sweet animals – and pictures. Lucky find, Amelia. Well worth having cold coffee for! RH


  10. Such a sweet mouse. I would have enjoyed her!


  11. Wow – well done on getting these! Voles are like mice only cuter, IMO. We don’t have any in our garden, sadly.


  12. Dang, rodents are so cute. Great shots. You just want to hug it.


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