We are all interested in wildlife, and I worked in nature conservation for 25 years in England before coming to France. So one of the great sources of excitement for us has been discovering the abundance of wildlife that lives at Le Moulin de Pensol.
When we first arrived, the winter was still retreating and the animals and plants stayed hidden. But now the sun is starting to shine, each day brings a new cry of “come and look at this” from somewhere on the site.
This morning it was a red squirrel running up a tree behind the mill house. While we are used to the invasive non-native grey squirrels in the UK, reds are a creature only ever seen wildlife programmes or in zoos.
Last week it was a lizard. Not the small friendly ones which bask on the front of the buildings, enjoying the warmth of the sun, and tormenting our largest dog Pru. This one was a huge green one with a stunning blue throat which looked like a child’s toy it was so large.
The first cuckoos have started calling, and right on cue the beautiful cuckoo flower has begun to flower in the wet ditches that lead towards the river. The buds of the peach trees couldn’t wait any longer and have burst into pink wands everywhere you look, which against the blue sky gives a strangely Japanese effect.
As the spring rolls forward butterflies are everywhere, the different species marking the forward progress of the season. First it was brimstones, which seem larger than the UK species. Their sulphur yellow wings providing welcome relief from the muted colours of winter. Then over the last few days the orange -tips have appeared. There was huge excitement last week when the groups of black caterpillars with surprising red eyes which were dotted all over the meadow were confirmed to be those of Glanville fritillary butterflies. I had seen some fritillaries when I first came to look around the mill with an estate agent last year. They must have been the adults, and I could not have dreamt that they would turn out to be what in the UK is an incredibly rare butterfly. There was a bit of a flutter on Twitter about all of this as I couldn’t resist boasting about our find.
You should come and visit and see all this for yourself. But if you can’t, or can’t come just at the moment, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter instead.