Ivèrn *… is coming!

Is winter synonymous with a dead season for nature-loving observers? Perhaps in the more northern countries, but not necessarily. The Mediterranean winter meanwhile with its relative severity, offers countless opportunities for encounters with Mother Nature. Indeed, the herbivorous mammals do not feel the need to hibernate, the insects buzz around for much longer thanks to the mild sunny days, the "local" birds sing to us, and to their new friends who have come to enjoy our good climate and the beautiful plants bloom early to announce the end of the cold weather. Although we should still be wary! The freezing tempeartures can still take us by surprise, freezing our landscapes, at the expense of the least reactive wild animals: January is not bastard: If winter doesn't come early, it comes late. »**

Anyway, here winter always brings with it some superb lights ... The misty sunrises, in particular, will make each observation a unique moment!

* Winter in Occitan dialect
** Gabrielle COSSON, Inventory of French sayings, Tours, Larousse, 2003, 383 p.

A tough season for rabbits...

“In March, cold in the morning, to the trough leads the rabbit. »* Even if this saying speaks to us about the last cold of winter which pushes the lactating females of our kind Domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus) to wean their young to save energy, the living conditions of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are much more tough. Indeed, a strong modification of its biotope coupled with devastating animal epidemics like myxomatosis mean that this species is threatened with near extinction. It is actually very difficult today to observe this mammal on our territory. Reasoned and thoughtful management in terms of environmental planning and better adapted hunting practice, however, could reverse the trend and would also be beneficial to the natural ecosystem as a whole.

* Gabrielle COSSON, Inventory of French sayings, Tours, Larousse, 2003, 383 p.

A "white ass" in the rosemary ...

It was at the beginning of winter, thanks to one of those beautiful days when the sun shines without too much heat that I was able to see her, furtively, out of the corner of my eye, her "little ass. white ”stirring from flower to flower. But who is it? Quite simply Bombus terrestris or if you prefer terrestrial Bumblebee characterized by the white band at the base of its abdomen, which has earned it its little nickname. This insect could well be the solution to fight against the consequences of the collapse of the colonies ofWestern honey bees (Apis mellifera). It is an efficient and robust pollinator, tireless from dawn until evening and even at low temperatures! Although he is also sensitive to insecticides, he seems to be doing better than his famous cousin. And that said, even if he is part of the family, do not count on him to treat you to good honey. Drone as he is, it's not his type!

This sweet winter song…

Specialized sites, speaking of the song of Red robin (erithacus rubecula), explain that: " It is a series of whistled and rolled notes, of high tone, like a soft and flowing babble, which seems to flow naturally along a continuous sentence."*

Well yes, that's exactly it! But that said, you have to have a little musical ear to appreciate it in this way. On the other hand, what is interesting to note is that this song, pushed in winter, will not be quite the same as in summer. It will soften again! But you will say to me, why do males sing in winter? Good question ! it is quite simply to delimit their territory in front of certain individuals coming from the north of the range of the species to spend the winter in the warmth here. Unlike the “southern” Red-throats who are sedentary. What is really nice is hearing this song when you leave your house in the morning, just before you get in your car to go to work. A rather pleasant way to start your day!

* Www.oiseaux.net / birds / rougegorge.familier
Photo : © Agnes Poirot 

Wild orchids for dummies ...

If you are interested in botany, you will admit that attempting to learn about this vast family that represents the orchids is not an easy task. Especially bearing in mind that an orchid can easily hide another by the inevitable game of cross-pollination.

So what could be better than starting with one of the easiest to observe which, moreover, is also one of the earliest to bloom! I therefore suggest that you embark on this wonderful plant universe by discovering the Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertianum).

Typically Mediterranean, it deploys its pink-purple flowers from February on grassy or wooded areas. From the top of her sometimes 60 cm, she can see herself quickly. Its large flowers will allow you to easily detail each part of their anatomy and thus familiarize yourself with the terminology specific to these beautiful plants: the lip, the helmet, the spur, the ovary ... Formerly protected, it is no longer protected today. 'hui. This is good news which invites us to consider all living things in our territory with even more respect.

The lord of brackish water…

Difficult to separate the two! When we talk about one, the other is necessarily there! The first is perfectly suited to the second and the second is essential to the lifestyle of the first. Respectively it is the Flamingo (Phenicopterus roseus) and its living environment, the Mediterranean lagoon. This type of pond, made up of semi-fresh / semi-salty water, offers this beautiful bird shelter and shelter. With his long legs our friend can easily move there to reach the center and for example get away from a possible predator. Its exceptionally long neck allows it to dig through the mud even under several tens of centimeters of water in search of the shrimps which constitute the main part of its diet. But beware of too harsh winters! It only takes a few degrees below zero for the frozen lagoons to be inaccessible and if the birds do not react early enough to fly to more suitable places, the outcome can unfortunately prove fatal for them.