Friday, 7 February 2014

Wildlife on the School Run

Posted by Rosie

Yesterday Ben asked if I could take him into school rather than taking him up to Lenault catch the bus.  Simon had got back from a 3 week trip to the UK late the night before and besides a very bleary "Hi Dad" at 11pm Ben hadn't had time to catch up with him.  Taking him to school would give an extra 20 minutes of Dad Time.

Therefore yesterday at the end of the front drive Ben and I turned right to go down the hill through the trees rather the left to go up the road through the farmland.  The road down to the valley bottom is possibly one of our favourite routes in this area winding through woodland and past steep meadows whilst almost never failing to show us some flora or fauna.  Yesterday was no exception.  As we wound round the derelict building (no doubt home to owls) a magnificent buzzard swooped down in front of the car and glided in front of us for about 100m before heading out into the meadow.  We wondered what rodent wouldn't see an more sunsets thanks to the hunting prowess of this particular bird.  Further down the hill we noticed the primroses were beginning to flower on the banks - in a few more weeks you'll be hard-pushed to see greenery for all their yellow petals.  Then, round another corner we were greeted with a sight that never fails to take our breath away, a deer, carefully picking it's way across the road.  With our approach it sped up and jumped through the fence and joined it's 3 friends in the field.  For a short while 4 deer stood silent and still watching us ... and we stared back before with a flick of a delicate leg they were off and had all too soon disappeared into the trees beyond.  "Wow" was all Ben could say!

Roe deer, buck and doe.  Picture from Wikipedia

We then fell into a conversation about deer, venison and the right words to use in French.  In England we have the native roe, fallow and red deer and the introduced muntjac.  These were roe deer but we quickly realised we didn't know the exact word for roe deer - or for hind/doe, stag/buck or venison.  I have heard the words biche, cerf, chevreuil all used in relation to deer but am not at all sure what any one of them mean.  I am now sitting here with Google Translate and my dictionary trying to work it out:

  • Deer - there appears to be no specific word that means deer - you need to say either cerf for a stag/buck or biche for a hind/doe
  • Venison - (viande de) chevreuil
  • Roe deer - chevreuil
  • Red deer - cerf
  • Fallow deer - daim
  • Fawn - faon (but this word cannot be used for the colour faun, that's a different word altogether!)
  • There is also the word cervidé which means member of the deer family but I think this is a more scientific word than one in general use.

So in summary I am still rather confused as to what word I would use if I saw some deer of sex or species unknown or a mixed group or if I saw a female red deer!  As for muntjac - it wasn't in my dictionary and Google had no idea!  However I do know what I will be getting if I see chevreuil on a menu!

Moving swiftly back to our drive to school - after the buzzard, the primroses and the deer we saw snowdrops en masse, a few rabbits and rather a lot of LBJs ... you know those birds that are just that bit too far away to identify so become Little Brown Jobs!  However what we didn't see was one of my favourite animals, a hare.  By going that little bit later we had missed them.  However today, whilst driving back from the bus stop I was treated to 2 of the lovely creatures dashing across the field behind our house.  Sorry you missed them Ben - but maybe we'll see them on the next school run.  If anyone else has a soft spot for hares do have a look at the Pinterest board I have dedicated to them.  Pinterest - Hares

Do you get to see much wildlife on the school run/commute to work?  Or maybe you can enlighten us on the right word to use if I want to say in French - "We saw 4 deer on the way to school this morning!"  Please do let us know in the comments below.

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10 comments :

  1. sounds a nice school run.

    no school run or work commute for me - but we regularly see buzzards here, often chased off by the crows :), deer grazing the verges by the lanes

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    1. It certainly makes it more pleasurable - although at the moment it is still dark when I take Tom to catch his bus.

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  2. It's sad to think that many children will grow up never experiencing the joy of seeing wildlife first-hand. So many children today have been robbed of their adventures by staying indoors far too much.

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    1. One of the things we see when families visit here is how much time the children want to spend outside. It's like they are hard-wired to want fresh air and exercise. Our boys are so lucky to have Nature's Playground on their doorstep.

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  3. Sounds like a great journey to school instead of the bus! We sometimes have the deer, and often have the buzzards and Red Kites circling - so very lucky! #countrykids

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    1. I love Red Kites but I have ever seen one here. I used to see them in the UK when travelling along the M4 and once nearly crashed the car watching them - oops! I have however seen a Marsh Harrier here as well kestrels and various owl species. We are very lucky although it sounds like you are too where you live.

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  4. What a lovely school run. We walk everyday but only see birds, cats & dogs & occasionally squirrels. Not quite the same

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    1. We sometimes get red squirrels but only if we drive to school rather than the bus stop. Those are really lovely. We are very lucky!

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  5. Sorry, but I can not be any help with the translation! What a wonderful way to journey to school seeing so many majestic animals. Mostly farm animals here with the exception of our own beautiful Deer herd. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

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    1. Sometimes I think my French is OK and then I come up against something like this and I realise how far from being bilingual I am. The boys however are really lucky to be bilingual although as time goes on they find there are words they actually only know in French and not in English.

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