The nest will have been there all summer, but has only just become visible because the leaves have dropped from the tree. This is typical of how Asian Hornet nests are discovered. They are amazingly difficult to see until autumn.
By the time we had finished taking photos dusk was falling on a late October day.
A week later, this hornet and some of her mates were encountered feeding on ivy flowers. The nest is in a tree just the other side of a small valley to the ivy, so this hornet almost certainly came from there.
Update 27 November 2014: The nest features in an article in the local paper. Here's my translation:
Strange spheres have appeared in the trees and hedges of our region, posing some problems for the locals. Such is the case with a nest of Asian Hornets perched in the branches of a tree as you enter Preuilly sur Claise.
The destruction of these nuisances used to come under the responsibilities of the fire brigade. The current legislation envisages that these days the intervention is left to private companies and the fees are the responsibility of the land owner. The Asian Hornet is dangerous to man because of its sting, but is also one of the principle predators of honey bees. The disappearance of bees is a particularly worrying phenomenon. Not only is the apiculture sector significantly reducing, but bees are the principle pollinators of crops and wild flowers. Without these precious insects a large part of the vegetation would no longer exist. Einstein said that if the bees disappear the human race would last no longer than four years. [This is utter rubbish, both in terms of attribution of the quote and the actual facts.] According to beekeepers the principle causes of their disappearance is sickness (brought by varroa mites and foulbrood), pesticides, monocultures and for some years now, the infamous Asian Hornet.
With this fourth factor, a problem arises when the land owners don't take up their responsibility, either through negligence or lack of resources. Many people are wondering whether the management of a plague of this magnitude should not be the responsibility of local or regional authorities, or even the national government.
For an alternative view on how much of a threat (or not...) they may be, Chris Luck has written an interesting blog post based on his recent experience of discovering an Asian Hornet's nest in his apiary. He's a beekeeper of many years standing as well as a very fine naturalist, who lives just the other side of the Brenne to us.