a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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Garden Birds

The real hot days of summer (la canicule) are behind us.  Amelia and I found that this summer with the temperatures often between 35 and 40 degrees Centigrade, we were sitting less in the garden.  Oh, well, I told her, it is a good excuse to go to the beach!

asters

Now in late September it is milder and we can attend to the neglected tasks in the garden.  And to admire the autumn flowers and of course to sit down for a cup of coffee.

front garden

Our garden is usually very peaceful, except for the chattering of the birds.  But the garden would surely not be the same without the birds.

When we first bought this house we had very few visiting birds.  Now I am amazed with the variety of the birds.  They all need water, and so we have placed several watering havens for the bees and the birds.

The hoopoe has become a regular summer visitor to the garden.

Hoopoe

The green woodpecker made a bright splash of colour in the garden.  It is the first year that I have seen the woodpecker in the front garden.

woodpecker 1

The Redstarts have remained one of my favourite birds.  This year they occupied four nests that I had made for them and they raised at least four young ones in each nest!  We get both the black Redstarts as well as the common Redstarts.

red start 1

Birds require plenty of water, not only to drink but to keep their feathers clean and their antics in the trough provide us with lots of amusement.  We  see Redstarts taking their bath almost every day at the moment.

red start 2

I am almost sure that they actually enjoy frolicking in the water as much as my granddaughter used to do.

baby sparrow 1

The sparrow make their nest under the eaves, and I am sure that they must have had three broods this year.  Like all baby animals, they too look cute.

baby sparrow 2

But without a doubt, my favourite, at least for this year, is the warbler (I believe it is the melodious warbler).

Sometimes we have mistaken it for a sparrow as it is shy and moves away quickly, but its fine beak is a give-away.  The warbler has also started taking bath, but it is a quick dip in and out.

A couple of year ago, from a holiday in Malta, we brought with us a few seeds of what I call the giant fennel.  It has grown to well over two metres high and its flowers certainly attracted the bees.  Now in seeds, it seems to attract the warbler.

warbler 3

We shall certainly try to replant it next year, if nothing else to make sure that this beautiful bird keeps coming to our garden.

IMG_0149

– Kourosh


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Summer arrives

We had almost no Winter this year; and the Spring has been most unusual.  Across the mainland Europe, warm days were interrupted with days of heavy rain and wind.

A week ago Amelia and I were driving near the city of Cognac and it was truly sad to see large tracks of vineyards completely flattened by hail-storm of late May.  They will have very little grape to harvest this year as well as next year, as next year’s crop should appear on this year’s growth.

In this little corner of the Charente-Maritime of France we have been gratefully sheltered from the worst of the inclement weather.

Since 20th June the temperature has suddenly shot up to over 30 degrees C (about 90 degrees F).  The garden has changed, as some of the Spring flowers have faded and others such as monarda and hydrangeas have  taken over.

Hydrangeas

The bees have been extra busy, but for a while I had some difficulty retrieving my bee suit and the bee equipment.  They are all stored in the cellar just outside the utility room.  There is a little beam there less than two metres high and a little redstart had decided to nest there using an old robin’s nest.

redstart nesting

Another sneaky look whilst she was away and what do I discover?  The little lady has been really busy.

redstart eggs

Five tiny eggs packed in gently in the old nest which she had repaired.

Two or three days after that I had another quick look to see what is happening.

redstart chicks

They were all there.  All five of them.

It became a little easier after that to enter and leave the cellar to retrieve my bee suit.  But at each occasion, the chicks thought that their mummy has returned and will feed them soon.

redstart chicks

Meanwhile in the olive tree in the front garden a little sparrow was waiting for his mother.

baby sparrow

Oh, well.  If mummy is slow in returning, perhaps the little fluff ball can have a go at the seeds himself.

baby sparrow

But what is this little bird in the water tough?  He is having what my little grand-daughter calls her ‘splishy-splashy’.

baby sparrow having a bath

Even the blue tits is wondering who he is.

birds at the water dish

Despite the heat, I must go and cut the grass in the back garden.  But I don’t really have the heart cutting the wild flowers.

The garden and the hives in June

Kourosh