Three generations of birders left home full of expectancy for the day. Myself, my son Jeremy and grandson Morris set off for St.Pons de Mauchiens for an extravaganza of that gorgeous tiny falcon Lesser Kestrel. This is a scarce species in France and in recent years has been confined to the Camargue. More recently birds were found nesting in Herault at St.Pons and the colony has grown to almost 100 pairs.
St.Pons de Mauchiens
Some birds are now spreading to adjoining villages so it seems strange to me that a Lesser Kestrel reintroduction scheme has been instigated a little further south near Narbonne. The visit today was fantastic because most of the young have fledged and the narrow streets and roof tops resounded to the bird's calls. Young birds were sitting around on TV aerials and rooftops waiting to be fed by the energetic adults.
Juvenile Lesser Kestrels
Juvenile Lesser Kestrel
We spent an hour watching these great birds suddenly realising that this was all taking place on Bastille Day a major French public holiday. The birds were having no holiday the adults bringing in cicadas, crickets and other insects for the young.
Male Lesser Kestrel
We were reluctant to leave but we had an appointment with a French birder who showed us a splendid Lesser Grey Shrike a species on the edge of its range and sadly declining fast. Only a handful of these beautiful birds remain and it is hard to imagine how their extinction in France can be avoided. Thanks to John Andrews for arranging this.