One of the disappointing things about cycling I find is that although you are out in the open you really don’t get to see much flora and fauna.
Because you are more or less constantly moving through the landscape you notice the more slowly changing elements; the lie of the land, the scenery and so on, but don’t see the moving elements or details except as flashes.
Small birds are particularly difficult. Anything smaller than a blackbird just registers as another LBJ (little brown job). So I saw plenty of buzzards, and once something about buzzard sized but with pointy wings and a reddish colour, possibly a kite. Magpies and jays galore. Jays especially in wooded areas. Crows of course and a couple of times a green woodpecker darting away. Also often heard the alarm call of the woodpecker and sometimes other birdsong if I wasn’t going fast enough for the rush of the wind in my ears to drown it out.
Sitting here this morning on N&D’s terrace in the cool shade I can hear more diverse birdsong than ever when riding. Also the song of two or three chainsaws chattering and roaring at each other up the lane, hopefully they’ll be done soon.
Aside from birds, there were red squirrels in Brittany and again once further south. A water rat swam across a small river beside the road somewhere in Haute-Vienne. A coypu scurried away in a ditch near Cognac.
Big hairy caterpillars narrowly avoided being bisected by my tyres as they crossed the road many times. Once between Castelnaudray and Carcassonne a snake about 12-15″ long slithered across the lane in front of me and I spent one lunchtime watching little lizards trying and failing to catch grasshoppers.
In the south dragonflies sometimes flew alongside for a few metres before darting away. Butterflies, white ones and yellow, were usually around and once I thought one managed to fly through my front wheel without being shredded by the spokes.
Here in the South signs along the mountain roads warn of deer but the only one I saw was in the woods around day 10. Lots of evidence of wild boar coming down the Gironde, fresh diggings alongside the path, and finally on the last day I saw one. Dead in the ditch beside the road on a steep climb. Looked like fresh roadkill, but I didn’t stop to investigate as it would have been difficult to get going again on the hill.
That’s about it, mostly glimpses as you flash by. If you want to see wildlife then a bike can get you to a place, but you need to get off and patiently listen and watch until the natural reveals itself to you. Whilst riding you are part of the machine and its world, and only accidentally will your path cross with the natural world surrounding you.