Right up close to nature

Bird watching in the Aude is a popular activity. A family of black redstarts has nested in the porch of our B&B in the south of France since we came here. These birds are quite rare in the UK but are a common sight in Languedoc. Broods are large for such small birds, last year we had five very demanding chicks. The parents worked so hard, frantic in their forays for food and quick to let us know if they wanted to come into the porch and would rather we weren’t there. Occasionally they would be very bold and fly over our heads, careful not to drop the giant moth protruding from their beak. Usually we had to find alternative seats on the terrace or the square so they could raise their brood in peace – likewise we could enjoy our breakfast. The chicks got so huge we thought they were going to topple from the ledge. Eventually, one morning before we set off for Mirepoix market, one or two, after much coaxing from mum and dad, finally found enough courage to fly from the nest to the nearest beam. Oh, they were so sweet, such scardy cats, hopping about on the beams for most of the morning before venturing onto the terrace, already practicing the lovely bobbing habit of the adult birds.

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