The animals we encounter in France are different from those I’ve dealt with in the U.S.
My parents lived in a mid-size city of about half a million people. With a wooded park nearby, deer often ambled onto a vacant lot one house over. Even some very big bucks. Raccoons were a constant challenge. And the opossums! Squirrels were taken for granted.
Here, on the edge of a little village that’s on the outskirts of a little city of 50,000, I see far less wildlife. Occasionally a fox or pheasant or quail. The hunting club gathers at the community center on Sunday mornings, with wild boars strapped to the hoods of their vehicles. We got all excited recently with a sighting of a single squirrel in the park. And a nest of hatchlings, below left, and a poor injured bird, right, had us cooing.
Around the house, the birds that woke us early in the spring seem to have fled the drought; with rain this week, we’re hoping they come back. In winter, we crumble up any leftover bread to sprinkle on the grass. In the mornings when I open the shutters, they are lined up atop the wall, looking at me, as if to say, “So? What’s taking you so long? How about some crumbs?”
A family of mésanges, or titmouse/chickadees, had nested amid the rafters of our entry for years and were none too pleased when we enclosed it. They would click and cluck at us, keeping a distance of about a meter wherever we went in the yard, simultaneously fearless and wary.
Bats come out in the evenings. Sometimes when closing the west shutters against the approaching afternoon sun, I would disturb bats that had taken refuge against the cool wall behind the shutters. They are such little balls of fur when they sleep.
Mostly, though, have lizards galore. They occasionally get inside the house and panic. We try to get them back out without hurting them. Our kid has a knack for picking them up, which is amazing because they are so skittish and lightning fast.
For a while we had a huge lizard–at least a foot long–in a pile of rocks. It was great entertainment to watch the lizard peek out, then tear across the grass into the oleander along the wall, then reappear, twig in mouth, to streak back to the rock pile. We haven’t seen this lizard for some time, which is too bad. We’ve been told that a lizard like that in a garden ensures no vipers will take up residence.
Just as the appearance of the geckos is a sign of spring, we’ll know it’s winter when they stay hidden away.
What animals live near you?