The Bat Mill

In the heart of the Corrèze, in the Millevaches Regional Nature Park, an abandoned mill has become a shelter for endangered chiropterans!

Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

An abandoned mill:

This mill has been in existence since the end of the 18th century and is located in the commune of Sarran. It has a domain of three hectares and it neighbors the Château of Bity, a property owned by the former French President, Jacques Chirac.

La Corrèze en bas du Moulin du CherFondation du patrimoine

Anchored on the banks of the Corrèze, the mill was used by the villagers to produce their flour until the beginning of the World War I, after which time it was abandoned.

Le Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

In addition to the mill itself, the domain also consists of a house and a bread oven, built along the road.

Verger du Moulin du CherFondation du patrimoine

The whole place is surrounded by orchards, which are today planted with Limousin apple trees.

Le Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

When the place was abandoned by people, the three buildings of the mill were replaced by a colony of winged inhabitants ...

Essaim de chiroptères : Murins et Grand RinolopheFondation du patrimoine

Chiropterans in danger:

The bats made the mill and the miller's house their nursery. Great Rhinolophes, Rhinolophus Ferrumequinum and swallow-eared murins, Myotis Emarginatus, two rare species that are protected in France and Europe, come here every year to have their babies.

Grand RinolopheFondation du patrimoine

The Great Rhinolophus is, with an average size of 2.3 to 4.5 inches (5.7 to 7.1 cm) and a wingspan that reaches 16 inches (40 cm), the largest type of European Rhinolophus.
Like all Rhinolophidae, its nose has a characteristic horseshoe shape.
It hangs from the wall during its daily summer rest and in hibernation and it is partially wrapped in these wings, which gives it a cocoon-like appearance.

The Moulin du Cher is home to one of the few known breeding colonies in the region.

Essaim de Murins à oreilles échancréesFondation du patrimoine

Swallow-eared murins are medium-sized: 16 to 18 inches (4.1 to 5.3 cm) long, with a wingspan of 8.6 to 9.6 inches (22 to 24.5 cm).
These bats have a thick, woolly coat, brown or smoky gray, a little tinged with red on the back and white-gray or yellowish-white on the stomach.
The Moulin du Cher is one of only three breeding sites for this species in Limousin.

Four à pain du Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

The site is managed by the Conservatoire Régional des Espaces Naturels du Limousin (CREN):

It was with the aim of protecting these colonies of bats that the CREN acquired this site when it was founded in 1992.

Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

The priority was then to restore the roof of the mill as it was on the verge of collapse and would have caused the loss of the chiropteran colony.
This work was done in 1993 and the bat breeding site was thus saved.

Essaim de Murins à oreilles échancrées et grand RhinolophesFondation du patrimoine

Every summer, nearly 700 females of these two species come to this place to give birth and nurse their young.

Four à pain du Moulin du Cher (c. 1780)Fondation du patrimoine

In 2020, the new CREN program aims to rehabilitate the bread oven of the Moulin du Cher, as this is also a night shelter for some of the bats.
This restoration project is supported by the Fondation du Patrimoine (Cultural Heritage Foundation).

Credits: Story

Many thanks to the Conservatoire Régional des Espaces Naturels du Limousin (CREN) and especially to Christophe Lagorsse for his valuable help in putting together this content.

To support the financing of the restoration of this bread oven, please click on this link: https://www.fondation-patrimoine.org/les-projets/four-a-pain-du-moulin-du-cher-sarran

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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