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In April 2021 I was fortunate to have spent three weeks in Mandelieu La Napoule, a small commune located on the French Riviera, just to the southwest of Cannes and northeast of Théoule-sur-Mer. Spring is a beautiful time of year in this region and I made the most of my time there by getting out and enjoying nature.

Early one morning, I woke up a couple of hours before dawn and drove for about thirty minutes up into the Tanneron Ridges, a low lying range of granite hills covered with thick vegetation of cork oaks, pine trees, ferns and wild mimosa. I parked the car next to a short track that led up towards one of the view points and after a short hike I reached the entrance to the Forêt Du Grand Duc, a lush forest covering 90 hectares and offering beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea, the Bay of Cannes and the Lérins Islands.

As soon as I arrived I heard the distinctive calls of nightingales. I was so happy to hear my first nightingales of the year, but the location wasn’t ideal to record, with a very distant low rumble of traffic. I continued my hike upwards and over the ridge and as soon as I began to descend the other side of the ridge, I realised the distant traffic could no longer be heard. I followed a winding path through thick trees until I reached a perfect spot. I set up my mics, ran a long cable and sat quietly about thirty metres away hidden in some bushes.

By the time I had set everything up and started recording it was about 45 minutes before sunrise. We hear nightingales, robins, blue tits, blackbirds and other common woodland birds. It was a fantastic concert and one of the best ways to start the day! After recording, I headed back down and enjoyed the stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, before heading back to Mandelieu La Napoule for breakfast.