Autoire


Whichever direction you go the scenery is stunning, the countryside is inspiring and the wildlife is all around you. Our home is located in the "Jardin du Segala" which as the name suggests is lush and green for much of the year. On the edge of the Masiff Central the hills rise to over 600m and are covered in great expanses of oak, chestnut, beech and hazel trees. Between the hills the countryside descends steeply to delightful river valleys with micro-climates supporting a wide diversity of wildlife. Walk along the top of the limestone cliffs for spectacular far reaching views before winding your way down to pretty villages nestling below.

Because agriculture is only on a small scale and is mainly pasture, the wildflowers are a particular feature of the area. A stroll along the road offers wonderful displays of harebells, cowslips, milkmaids and bright blue chicory. In the spring the fields are dotted with orchids and later in the summer a perfume of wild mint and thyme lingers in the air. In the mountains of the Cantal carpets of wildlflowers stretch into the distance with the remarkable great yellow gentian standing tall before its roots are harvested for the local liqueur.

As autumn approaches the walnut and fig trees drop their fruit for the passer-by and the farmers are busy collecting the grape harvest. Eventually the tree covered hills turn to a patchwork of gold, red and bronze before winter brings its bright frosty days.

Autoire

Just 30 minutes away on the other side of the valley from St Cere begins the drier but equally interesting "Parc Naturel Regional des Causses de Quercy". Spring arrives on the Causses a little earlier and the whole area is a haven for wildlife, particularly the multitude of butterflies and insects. This vast area is a protected landscape supporting large populations of breeding birds. We have christened one particular path as "nightingale alley" with dozens singing loudly amongst the scrub. Here you may also find the short-toed eagle, a beautiful sight flying high on the thermals.

Alternatively a 2 hour drive east will take you to the spectacular "Parc Naturel Regional des Volcans d'Auvergne" with it's stunning extinct volcanoes.

Buzzard Jersey Tiger Moth Local new arrival!


Loubressac

But you don't have to go far to meet the wildlife.The fields around the house are a wonderful place to view a wide variety of birds and animals. The common and honey buzzards sit on the fence posts outside the house and red and black kites circle overhead. The wonderful "comical" hoopoe has been spotted many times in the field in front of the house and while you are sitting in the garden you may well be joined by redstarts (nesting in our well), the melodious warbler and families of marsh and crested tits. Deer visit our field, red squirrels live in the pine forest behind our house and hares are often seen leaping around in the fields nearby. If you are very lucky you may even spot a pine marten or badgers or if you are returning along the river valley in the early evening the otter can occasionally be seen playing in the field.

From February to November we have a succession of butterflies. We are gradually developing a wildflower meadow in our field and at certain times of the year you can sit out there and be surrounded by butterflies. Even the insects are interesting and a recent survey revealed over 80 species although it is estimated there could be three times as many. Throughout the summer, hundreds of field crickets sing all day and night.

The following is a very non-scientific list of the wildife spotted in the area:

BIRDS
An informal list of birds we have seen or have been reported to us by guests and friends:
Osprey
Short-Toed Eagle
Red Kite
Black Kite
Hen Harrier
Common Buzzard
Honey Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Goshawk
Kestrel
Hobby
Peregrine Falcon
Merlin
Cuckoo
Cormorant
Night Heron
Grey Heron
Tawny Owl
Long-Eared Owl
Barn Owl
Little Owl
Scops Owl
Nightjar
Swift
Swallow
House Martin
Crag Martin
Golden Oriole (nesting by the lake)
Hoopoe (several pairs in the surrounding fields)
Kingfisher


Black Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Greater Spotted Woodpecker
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Wryneck
Skylark
Crested Lark
Woodlark
Tawny Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Wren
Dunnock
Alpine Accentor
Nightingale (dozens on the Causse)
Robin
Redstart
Black Redstart
Wheatear
Stonechat
Song Thrush
Redwing
Fieldfare
Mistle Thrush
Blackbird
Ring Ouzel
Various Warblers (Help with identification gratefully received!) including:
Willow warbler
Garden Warbler


Cettis Warbler
Meadow Warbler
Blackcap
Whitethroat
Chiff Chaff
Pied Flycatcher
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal TIt
Crested Tit
Marsh Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Nuthatch
Treecreeper
Red Backed Shrike
Jay
Magpie
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Chaffinch
Brambling
Linnet
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Siskin
Serin
Bullfinch
Cirl Bunting
Corn Bunting


BUTTERFLIES
Just some of the many butterflies seen out on our walks or in our field:
Swallowtail
Scarce Swallowtail
Silver Studded Blue
Adonis Blue
Common Blue
White Admiral
Southern White Admiral
Red Admiral


Small Tortoiseshell
Peacock
Comma
Silver Washed Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Apollo
Large White
Black Veined White
Orange Tip
Clouded Yellow
Brimstone

Cleopatra
Purple Hairstreak
Small Copper
Sooty Copper
Marbled White
Grayling
Meadow Brown
Ringlet
Gatekeeper
Speckled Wood

ANYTHING ELSE NOT IN THE ABOVE
Hares
Pine Marten (spotted on the patio and surrounding countryside)
Fox
Hedghog
Badger

Stoat (in the garden)


Otter
Coypu
Deer
Boar
Red Squirrel
Loir or Edible Doormouse (cute squirrel-like creature plays havoc with roof insulation)


Grass Snake
Adder
Lizard
Green Lizard (very colourful)


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St Cere, Bed and Breakfast, Evening Dinner. Delicious Vegetarian Meals also available. Fully inclusive self-led walking holidays. House hunting.
Chambres and Table D'Hotes, Lot department, France.
Places to visit: St. Céré, Autoire, Loubressac, Cardaillac, Bretenoux, Turenne, Beaulieu sur Dordogne, Carennac, Curemonte, Salers, Martel, Floirac, Castelnau, Rocamadour, Lac du Tolerme, Argentat, Figeac, Cahors, St Cirq Lapopie, Marcilhac, Cajarc, Collonges, Conques, Padirac, Pech Merle, Gourdon, Gramat, Capdenac, Rodez, Gourdon, Souillac, Brive, Sarlat, Domme, River Dordogne, River Lot, River Cele, River Cere, Lot Quercy.
Things to do: Hiking, Cycling, Canoeing, Horse riding, Golf, Tennis, Swimming, Bird Watching.
All in the local area of the delightful Lot department and the adjacent Correze, Cantal, Aveyron and Dordogne departments of France
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