Clients staying this week took trouble to watch out at dusk and were rewarded by seeing an eagle owl, which the French call a Grand Duc (Latin: Bubo bubo). With a wing span of nearly 2 metres, it was cruising in the half light over the trees on the hunt for prey (see this fantastic clip www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/slow-motion-eagle-owl-video_n_921033.html of one of these big birds in slow motion).
And the prey it wanted was probably one of small red squirrels our guests spotted running about in the high branches of the huge oak tree by the house, chattering as they searched for acorns. These little creatures (Latin: Sciurus vulgaris) make a delicious hors d’oeuvre for the Grand Duc, and for the Bonelli Eagles (photo left, Latin: Aquila fasciata) which they saw during the day floating high above the cliffs behind the house. These eagles are often about, advertising themselves with their high-pitched cries. They live in the cliffs and barres among the 3,000+ hectares of wild plateau between us and Aubagne on the outskirts of Marseille.