07 April 2009

Nicest day yet

Yesterday was like a summer vacation. The temperature was the highest we've had yet (about 22ºC out in the garden), and the air stayed warm well into the evening. We were able to sit out on the front deck and enjoy listening to the birds singing until dark.

A merle singing in the maple tree out front

The blackbirds (merles) were especially vocal last night, and I really enjoy listening to their songs. There was a cuckoo off in the distance too, and a multitude of smaller birds.

During the afternoon, I transplanted some thyme plants and a lot of lilies of the valley (muguets in French). All were in planter boxes and now they are in the ground. In one of the planter boxes, I sowed green onion seeds. The other will have oregano and basil planted in it when the weather gets a little bit warmer. The other day I planted chive seeds in another planter box.

A big bird out in the vineyard

The other day out in the vineyard, I notice a big bird of prey sitting on a post off in the distance. I didn't get very close before it slowly flew away, disappearing into the woods. I wondered what prey it was observing or looking for.

And a raven

A big raven (I think these are ravens, not crows) was sitting on another post, not far away, also observing the hawk, I think. It flew on off when the bigger bird moved away.

Last night it rained. The grass is really going to start growing now. April showers... it's still raining this morning and the temperature is down to 10ºC.


  1. Your big bird of prey is a Common Buzzard (Buse variable in French.

  2. I'm not certain but I think Raven and Crow are the same thing. You're smarter than I, so I will believe you if you say they are not. I wish we had cuckoos in the midwest. I would love to hear their song. I saw the Heron that lives on the golf course near me today. I can't believe they don't migrate for the winter?! I can't believe you haven't blogged about the Obamas visiting France. I would love to know what the small town newspapers are saying about them.

  3. Hi Linda, well, I admit that I don't read the small town newspapers much. We only have one, actually, and it's published in Tours, but with local editions. I'd have to start up the car and drive a couple of miles to go out to buy it. Of course, it's on the Internet too but I don't look at it much.

    In French, crows and ravens are corbeaux and corneilles. I don't know much about them, but maybe Susan or CHM will enlighten us.

  4. How lovely! I just spent three days with Loulou in the Minervois and we weren't as lucky with the weather....

  5. Hi Betty, I assume you had a nice time despite the weather. We have been lucky, weather-wise, here in the Touraine for the past few weeks. Rain tomorrow, tho'.

  6. Susan, "common" buzzard doesn't sound very nice, especially since "buzzard" means "vulture" in American English. Scavengers. Carrion-eaters. Not your most attractive bird. I know "buse" or "busard" is different in France.

  7. I hope Susan will agree with me. Ravens, Crows and Jackdaws are three different birds of the same Corvus family. By-and-large, Ravens [Corbeaux] are larger than Crows [Corneilles] and found primarily in open spaces, whereas Crows can be found in urban areas. Also, in Europe, there is a third member of the Corvus family, the Jackdaw [Chouca] which is smaller than the first two. In the U.S., according to the Birds of North America from the National Geographic, there are four varieties of Crows and two of Ravens. I have no information about Jackdaws/Choucas.

  8. For those interested in the "Crow" family, here are two links worth looking at:



  9. Thanks, CHM. For some reason, I had it in my mind that the crow was the corbeau. Now I'll know: the corneille=crow is the smaller bird. I guess I should do some reading in my two bird books.

  10. Ken: I didn't know the American meaning of buzzard. In Australia and Europe, buzzards are large birds of prey, mainly eating voles (or marsupials in Australia) and rabbits. There are three possible species in France. The Common Buzzard is the only one that is resident all year round in France, and the only one you will see perched like the one in your photo.

    CHM is entirely right about crows and ravens. There are ravens in Montmartre cemetery in Paris, btw. There is another species of corvid you will see in the countryside most days too – rooks. They are the ones that make the big noisy colonies, and the ones you are most likely to see in the fields picking over the plowed earth.

  11. PS Busard are different again. They are Harriers in English. These are medium-large birds of prey with very long wings. You can often see them hanging (wings barely twitching, body twisting with the wind a bit, not fluttering furiously to hover like kestrels) in the air, very low, just above the level of the crops, or slowly quartering a field, looking for mice and voles. Magnificent.

  12. Thanks for that information about buses and busards, Susan. I didn't know the difference; I just knew the two terms.

    And yes, "buzzard" is a synonmym for "vulture" in American English. In the South, there's a bird called the turkey buzzard. Out West, that's called a turkey vulture.

    Here's what the American Heritage dictionary says:

    buz·zard n. 1. Any of various North American vultures, such as the turkey vulture. 2. Chiefly British. A hawk of the genus Buteo, having broad wings and a broad tail.


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