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Flora _ Fauna of the Auvergne

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Flora _ Fauna of the Auvergne Powered By Docstoc
					The Auvergne in Central France is home to a fantastic range of plant, bird and animal
species, making it one of the most sought after places to visit for the amateur
naturalist.

Of the many things the Auvergne prizes, above all others is the fact that the people
living in the region go to great lengths to ensure that they do not disrupt the habitats
of both the native flora and fauna. During outings in the Auvergne you will be able to
experience different protected habitats, most notable in the areas of the 'Vallée
de Chaudefour','Les Sagnes de la Godivelle' and the 'Val d'Allier' Nature Reserves and
in the two Regional Nature Parks - the 'Parc Naturel Regional Des Volcans
D'Auvergne' and the 'Parc Naturel Regional Livradois-Forez'.

The Auvergne is home to a fascinating and diverse range of animals including birds,
mammals, fish and even butterflies (these include the 'Limagnes', 'mountain' and
'southern' butterflies). Due to the alternating landscape between plains and mountains,
the Auvergne is the ideal habitat for many types of birds. The 'Falcon', 'Kite' and
'Jean-le-Blanc short-toed eagle' can be found along the gorges of the 'Upper Allier',
the 'Haute-Loire', the 'Sioule' and the 'Allagnon'. Along the many pleasant waterways,
'kingfishers' dive after aquatic insects and small fish. Above the bogs, the 'Northern
harrier' cruises over the region, for all to see. Unfortunately the majestic 'eagle owl' is
harder to spot, due to its preference for nocturnal hunting.

Although rare, the 'sandpiper' and 'Tengmalm's owl' can be seen in the Auvergne if
you know where to look. As can the magnificent 'hoopoe' and the 'red-backed shrike',
which fly back from Africa in the Spring. The 'Allier Valley' is a safe haven where
'sand martins', 'terns', 'herons', 'ospreys', 'egrets', 'swans', 'ducks' and the famous 'turlu
des bourbonnais' are protected and are able to raise their chicks in relative sefety. Far
from the hustle and bustle of the towns, the wide open spaces of the Auvergne are
home to many wild species of mammal. Some three hundred 'mouflon sheep' live on
the slopes of the 'Puy Mary' and 'Sancy'. These sheep are regarded as "foreigners" as
they were introduced from Corsica in 1956 and can be spotted quite easily with
binoculars. Occasionally you can even get close to them, just like the 'chamois' with
which they share the hillsides of the Auvergne massifs. There are also large
populations of 'squirrels', 'ermines', 'martens', 'roe deer' and 'wild boars' to be found in
the extensive forests of the Auvergne. The majestic 'stag' can be found in the 'Pinatelle
d'Allanche', the gorges of the 'Upper Allier' and in the 'Tronçais Forest'.
During the months of September and October, a guide is available to take you to hear
its famous mating call. The 'fox' lives up to its reputation and is not easy to spot. This
is also true of the very shy 'genet'(a small mammal related to the civet), which can be
found in the western Auvergne.

A land of lakes and rivers, the Auvergne has an impressive range of aquatic life.
Brown 'trout', 'char' and 'salmon' are among the most famous species that have made
their home here. Like the otter and the beaver (which are common in the 'River
Allier'), they are an indication of the quality of the water and environment the
Auvergne has to offer. At 'Vichy', the large bay windows of the 'observatory of
migratory fish' allow you to watch the species found in the 'Allier'. The ponds of the
'Sologne Bourbonnaise region' are home to the 'European pond tortoise', a rare species
of turtle. Along with the 'yellow-bellied toad' it is protected throughout the whole of
Europe.

From the 'narcissi' to 'gentians' and 'sundews' to 'Martagon lilies', the Auvergne has
over 4,500 common and rare species of plants and flowers including some forty
protected plants. The Auvergne's richness of plants is due to its geological past and its
geoclimatic diversity. It has a widely differing and sometimes unexpected natural
environment such as the lakes, ponds, torrents and rivers, but also saltwater springs,
dry, rocky highland plateaux, peat bogs and deep forests in which many different
plants grow. It is impossible to talk about Auvergne's selection of flora without
mentioning the 'gentian' with its big yellow flowers and the 'aperitif liqueur' made
from its roots. Also worth mentioning is the majestic protected 'Martagon lily'. It can
be easily seen on the sunny slopes of the mountains or in the 'beech' forests. It
sometimes grows next to the 'Welsh poppy' with its dazzling yellow colour. The peat
bogs are a surprisingly natural environment. The cool, acidic environment enables
rare plant species to thrive. They are often protected, such as the 'dwarf birch',
'cranberry', 'cotton grass', 'cowberry' or 'Siberian ligularia'. The "star" of the peat bog
is the remarkable 'sundew' or 'drosera', a small carnivorous plant. The round leafed
'Sundew' is just a small plant, reaching maximum heights of 15cm. This plant became
carnivorous to make up for the lack of nitrogen in its surroundings, therefore feeding
on small insects. It is an extremely rare plant and is protected worldwide! This plant is
an excellent example of adaptation to its surroundings. It is considered that there are
few other places in France which contain such a wealth of flora and fauna. The variety
of species you can see in the Auvergne really demonstrates how many plants and
animals can live in one place and adapt to their different surroundings.

				
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posted:1/21/2011
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