Les Étourneaux de Nice

It’s Christmas in Nice and the French Rivera doesn’t do things on a small scale.  The decorations are in place and there are so many lights twinkling here every night it feels like the sun never sets.

But the most impressive spectacle I’ve seen so far, are Les Étorneaux – or the Starlings – that fly in formation along Promenade des Anglais each evening.

My parents are visiting for a few weeks and they have taken to strolling along the sea front most days, admiring the still-blue Mediterranean and taking in the sights while I am at school.

They told me they had seen the most amazing thing on the water front, so the next day I went with them, and sure enough, from our perch on the last bench along the promenade, just as the sun began to set, we saw thousands of tiny birds flying in the most incredible formations,  swooping down into their chosen tree to settle in for the night.

Hundreds upon hundreds of the delicate birds seemed to appear out of nowhere and like magic, they all chose the same tree to land on.  Different flocks came from all directions, and over the course of half an hour or so each one had found its place on the branches of what became one very loud tree.

I’ve seen murmurations of starlings before, and it is always mesmerizing, but I loved seeing the little birds against the backdrop of the Nicoise architecture and palm trees.

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