This environment is a godsend for the fauna because it abounds in old oak trees and tree cavities. There is a multitude of micro-habitats, synonymous with cosy nests for certain species: woodpecker lodges, dead wood, undergrowth… Will you recognise them?
Four species of these areas
Eurasian scops owl
Along with the Eurasian pygmy owl, the scops owl is the smallest of Europe’s nocturnal birds of prey. Its small size (it is smaller than a blackbird) and nocturnal habits make it very difficult to observe. However, its characteristic song is easy to spot. It can be heard within a radius of 1 km and resembles a fluttery whistle. If you hear “tiou” repeated at regular intervals, it’s him!
Insects make up 90% of its diet. If you’ve seen the sign about the open scrubland, you’ll probably remember the spiked magician. The little owl finds it delicious… Like all other nocturnal birds of prey, the scops owl is nationally protected.
The hoopoe is a beautiful golden-orange bird, with black and white stripes on its back and an erectile hoop that gives it its name. Its characteristic song, “hoopoop hoopoopoop”, is often used to identify it. It prefers extensively farmed areas, interspersed with hedgerows and woodland, and nests in cavities (woodpecker boxes, nest boxes or holes in walls). Its long, slender beak enables it to hunt insects (beetle larvae, caterpillars, grasshoppers, worms, etc.).
In the 19th century, its populations declined sharply in France as a result of changes to the landscape. It seems to be doing better today, but remains very sensitive. Its conservation status is very unfavourable (endangered) in the Rhône-Alpes region. It can be seen here from March to October.
Did you know? You can encourage the creation of cavities in trees by pruning them using a technique known as pollarding.
This medium-sized bat mainly makes its home in tree cavities. It generally settles in large alluvial valleys, lowland woodlands and parks (particularly in plane trees, which are rich in favourable cavities).
Few breeding sites are known in our region, despite its regular presence and a certain abundance. It is also a bat that flies very high and can hunt more than 20 km from its nest. Its preferred prey are moths. The sounds recorded are often emitted near tree roosts, and August sees the start of courtship and mating. Noctules (3 species in France) have been declining sharply in France for several years. To preserve them, keep old trees with cavities!
The stag beetle is one of Europe’s largest beetles. It is brown to shiny black in colour. The male is easily recognised by his antler-like mandibles, which he uses to catch and repel other males during courtship. The female, known as the “little doe”, has no mandibles.
What do you think the kite eel feeds on? The female lays her eggs near roots. The larvae remain in this stage for 3 to 6 years, feeding on decomposing wood! The adults feed on the sap of injured or diseased trees. The scarcity of old trees and dead wood is directly detrimental to saproxylic beetles, such as the stag beetle.
Did you know ? Many species, such as ground beetles, shrikes and some bats, do not hunt more than 50 m from a hedge. Hence the importance of a well-developed hedgerow network!