Le Hamel Roger

Le Hamel Roger

Local Wildlife

Kestrel in Flight

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the previous owners of Le Hamel for the following observations of the local wildlife.

Since we arrived here two years ago we have noted a great number of different bird, insect and animal species. I am no expert, but I believe that the list of creatures seen so far, featured below, is fairly accurate.

Kestrel

Kestrel

Firstly of course, there are the kestrels and the barn owls mentioned in our brochure. You can see their nests at the front of the property, at the end of the stone built portion, just under the gutters. You will see that there two small stone ledges, with small holes above them. The inner ledge is the kestrel’s nest. It is vacant now, as the breeding pair have raised their chicks and have left until the next breeding season. The outer ledge is where the barn owls live. They are still ‘in residence’ with their chicks. The kestrels raised three chicks this season. When we first arrived they were quite small and ‘fluffy’ with their down feathers. They soon grew to adult size and the nest was vacated in mid July. The kestrels remain in the area and can be seen hovering over the adjoining fields. They can also be seen in the trees above us, to the east of the property. The owls have, we think, three young as well, although as they only come out at night, it is difficult to be exact. The young are now of adult size, and it is difficult to tell them from their parents. They start to emerge from the nest at dusk and can be seen flying to and fro between the nest and the orchard opposite. Their calls can be quite frightening at first, but you soon get used to them. They sit in the trees and call out to each other. The youngsters will probably be leaving the area fairly soon, leaving us with just the two adults, until next year !

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Other birds I have noted around the property include goldfinches (who nest in the vine at the front of the property), buzzards (which can be frequently seen soaring over head), herons (which fly over occasionally), house martins, little owls (they can be heard at night by their ‘mewing’ sound), pied wagtails, bull finches and redpolls.Of course the other more common birds, sparrows, blackbirds, crows, pigeons etc. are to be seen everywhere.

At night you may spot little green lights in the grass, on the terraces. I believe these are some form of ‘glow worm’, although I have not been able to formally identify them. They are beetle type creatures, with the ‘glow’ section at the end of their tails. Perhaps you can help me identify these delightful little creatures.

Stag Beetle

Stag Beetle

Other insects seen about include stag beetles (these can be very large and, with their pincers, look very fierce – but they are harmless) and devil’s coach-horse beetles

(these have long tails, which they turn up to look like scorpions – but again they are harmless).

There are a multitude of different types of dragonfly living in and around the pond to the east of the property. One particularly distinct one is the bright blue coloured Emperor dragonfly, which is as large as a small bird.

The buddleia bushes at the top of the garden terrace attract large numbers of butterflies and moths. Some varieties I have noted are red admiral, small tortoiseshell, meadow brown and peacock. I recently spotted an unusual type of moth amongst the bushes, a humming-bird hawk moth which, as its name suggests, looks very much like a very small humming bird. It is

difficult to see as it flits from flower to flower very quickly.

We do have some reptiles in the area. I have seen large toads and mid-wife toads. The mid-wife toad is a fascinating creature. The female lays its eggs on the back and legs of the male, which then carries them around and looks after them until the young are ready to hatch. He then takes them to water, to hatch out. These mid-wife toads are responsible for the ‘bleeping’ sounds you may hear at night. Grass snakes have been seen sunning themselves along the footpaths, but these are harmless. I am quite sure that there are lizards about, but I haven’t seen any yet.

Wild mammals do not appear to be very common around here. I have seen a hare in a neighbouring field, and have heard foxes yapping at night. The only hedgehogs and badgers I have seen so far have been dead at the side of the main road. They must be about somewhere.