We’ve been so lucky with the weather the past few weekends that it’s a bit of a shock when you wake up on a Saturday morning to driving rain and grey skies. Just to think that this time last week I was watching the Aude flow below blue skies, uninterrupted sunshine and thinking that Spring was just around the corner! Today both the departments of Herault and Gard have been put on orange weather warnings because of the amount of rain that is expected there. One thing that I have come to realise whilst living in Quillan is that the weather in this part of France can change very quickly!
After having breakfast whilst listening to Fip we got ready to do the first job of the day. We have begun to supplement our wood supply by collecting choice pieces of driftwood from the river and last night we had hatched a plan. We would park the car at a local Aire and collect the stash of wood we had put aside on the bank the evening before. I also had decided to bring the hack saw from the gite to cut any oversized pieces down. This worked well and after 3 trips to and from our car to the stash (a trip that seemed much longer than normal!) we filled the boot and drove back home.
That afternoon the rain cleared and after I’d chopped more wood for the wood burner I decided to spend a little time in The Hide. I’m rarely disappointed on what I see on this site and today was not an exception. On approaching my small refuge I inadvertently disturbed a grey heron which had been perchng on the small outcrop of rock that juts out to the left of The Hide. Sensing my presence it took to the air in moments, disappearing upstream of the river in a manner that I often think would have been akin to seeing one of its prehistoric ancestors.
I found my chair and settled. The sky was overcast and the combination of both the slight breeze and dampness from the river cooled the air. Gazing through the binoculars I could, however, see that things were much busier than one might expect on such a dull day. On the far sand bank two chaffinches foraged among the leaves, sticks and stones. These were soon joined by what looked to be a yellow hammer which tentatively joined the party. To my side a robin called, gave me a hard stare then flew off.
As I watched what was happening along the bank I heard a distant but familiar ‘peet peet’ and my eyes caught a flash of vibrant yellow which came as a blessed relief against the sombre tones of the day. And there it was. No further than around 4 metres away from me a grey wagtail had landed on one of the metal struts that penetrated the river’s surface. It seemed completely oblivious to my presence in the hide and perched there for a few minutes-its eyes alert with its tail intermittently wagging as if it was tapping out a secret code that was meant to be deciphered. I watched it before it decided to move on and flew to the left bank before disappearing.