After Robin's comment about bee-eaters in his last blog, I can't resist posting this.
Their French name is Guêpiers (wasp-eaters) - but I think any insects are fair game to these gorgeous birds, after once seeing one with a big grasshopper in its beak.
This morning there were more of these than any other bird flying around and over the hillock at Canet St Nazaire. After a while I decided to stroll down for a closer view of whatever might be lurking in the grassland below and, as soon as I reached a little bridge across a stream, I was given a real treat: Fortunately for us, bee-eaters - when they settle at all - like to show off in dead trees and bushes and, for several minutes, I watched one such bush studded as with jewels by up to sixteen of these beauties at any one time. If you've got good eyesight(!) you might be able to spot fourteen in the photo below.
And here are a couple of short videos (with the usual apologies for woefully inadequate equipment and camera shake). Although the birds are distant (my camera was on maximum zoom!) and despite it being a dull day, their colours still shine out in the first clip and you can hear their familiar liquid trill.
I took the second clip of another group really to show their silhouette - something that we have to rely on so often for bird identification. (Both are clearer full screen.)
Shame the last bird in the second clip insisted on preening behind a branch. Here he/she is again, after - typically - emerging as soon as I stopped recording. For more bee-eater photographs, see Isobel's gallery.