How many times have you asked that question about a plant or bird or insect in this region of France? What you have seen will be most likely also to live in Britain but it may be quite rare there whereas here it is common. You are also more likely to see things here that you would perhaps not normally notice in Britain because you are here on holiday or are retired or just more relaxed so that you have time to stand and stare.
Some things you will not find in Britain such as the praying mantis above or the genet cat which I once saw at night crossing the road, or the scarce swallowtail butterfly which is not scarce but in fact quite common but with climate change more of the southern species are moving north so it is possible that these too will soon be seen in Britain. Having seen something which strikes you as unusual you probably want to know what it is and possibly a bit about it. So where do you look?
I still prefer books but you are unlikely to have a mini library of wildlife books at your disposal. I would recommend one book though which covers all wildlife. Obviously in attempting to do this it cannot cover every last beetle, bird and flower. However it does cover a vast amount and will help you identify 90% of what you see. The book is The Kingfisher Concise Field Guide. Animals and Plants of Britain and Europe edited by Michael Chinery.
Apart from this it’s down to the internet and to that end I have put together a list of sites I have found useful. One of the biggest problems for bloggers and web masters is how to present the information in a sensible and useable way. I am trying to compile a library of wildflower photos to help with identification as I have not found a really good site for this region. I decided to split it up according to colour so that all the red flowers are together and all the blue flowers, but then where do the purple and magenta and maroon flowers go? Sometimes sites which are designed for other nearby regions can be useful. Some sites which cover, for example, all of France or Western Europe can have too much irrelevant information.
http://loirenature.blogspot.fr/ This covers all aspects of wildlife and is very good and almost local.
https://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/wildflowers-of-poitou-charentes/ This is my blog – it’s OK but does not cover every plant… yet.
Orchids of Poitou-Charentes Quite good
Wild flowers of Poitou-Charentes This site is OK but in alphabetical order so a bit cumbersome
Non Flowering plants like fungi.
http://www.rogersmushrooms.com/ Roger Phillips’ famous books now on the internet
Invertebrates (Butterflies, beetles, spiders etc)
http://www.papillon-poitou-charentes.org/ This is French but local and very good for both Butterflies and Moths and it also includes their catterpillars
http://www.butterfliesoffrance.com/species_list.htm All of France so some species you will not find in Poitou-Charentes – excellent photos though.
Spider of N.W. Europe A massive site, not for those with arachnaphobia.
Vertebrates (Birds, Mammals, Reptiles etc)
http://www.herpfrance.com/reptile/ a very good site for Reptiles and Amphibians
Mammals of France wikipedia is actually quite good.
http://vienne.lpo.fr/ The equivalent of our RSPB or BTO
Les Moulismes Nature This is local and good.
If you know of any other sites that you would recommend then let me know.