The region around our holiday cottage and B&B in the south of France is fabulous for birdwatchers. The Aude has a wide range of habitats, home to around 200 nesting species. From our terrace buzzards are a common sight, soaring high on the warm thermals. Watch the delightful “bobbing” habit of the black redstarts and at dusk, see the barn owl heading off on its nightly patrol. In summer watch the amazing spectacle of swifts racing round the square hurling themselves into the eaves, often colliding with the zinc guttering with a resounding clunk whilst the house martins look on bemused. Surrounded by such goings-on, it’s easy to feel close to nature.
Archive for category: Bird watching
The black redstarts unceremoniously evicted by Nasty Nick from the porch have been setting up residence on one of the huge beams that criss-cross the terrace at our bed and breakfast in the south of France. Guests had to move from the porch in order that the redstarts could enter with food for their young but even so… Their nest that was perching precariously on the beam is now lying on the ground. Poor little birds, all that effort, however, Nasty Nick has promised to redeem himself and first thing will fix a ledge to the beam so the width is extended. If we put the nest back then perhaps the redstarts, that have the sweetest “bobbing habit”, will return. They are more timid than the bold Great Tits that build their nests in the stone walls of the porch and simply swoop over your head while you are enjoying your coffee and croissants.
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.