Posted by: atowhee | October 25, 2008

The Camargue and The Pink

That is a line of Greater Flamingos in one of the many small lagoons that dot the Camargue.  Larger bays and inlets may also have flamingo flocks when the shoreline if suitably shallow and muddy.  This is the delta of the Rhone River, justly famous for vineyards upstream, here noted for its cowboys, cattle AND birds.  The cattle are a breed apart, thus:

In French these cattle are not “vache” as most ordinary cattle, they known as “taur” from the old Latin root word.




Appropriate to its unique ecology and history as a remote and very Romanized part of Provencal, the Camargue also has its own breed of white horses:

Most of the French birds are quite skittish, though we did have one bold Black Redstart come check us out while we ate our picnic lunch.  Other birds we saw, but could not get to pose: Great, Little and Cattle Egrets, Gray Herons, Common Shelducks (too far away), Shoveler, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Kingfisher (a flash of blue and a puff of rusty smoke), Marsh Harrier (a large, near-black female with her brown crown), Tree Sparrows (far more numerous and romantic here than in suburban St. Louis, Missouri), Pied Wagtails, unidentified larks, Chiffchaff galore, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Black-headed Gulls.  I did get good shot of them along the lower Seine in Caudebec:

Their black heads will not return until late winter, in preparation for the breeding season.  They’re the size of Bonaparte’s Gulls and found along shorelines and riverways over much of western Europe.  Their squawks are piercing and sharp.  While we have been here in Arles along the Rhone we watched this species ride the flotsam after a heavy rain. Along with the Jackdaws, they are the most common birds in the town of Arles.  The “jacks” roost each night in the Roman arean (1900 years old) and the amphitheatre (1700 years old).  Generations of Jackdaws have live here in Arles.  From our hotel room window we them at dawn swirling and calling “daw-daw-daw” as they commute westward across the Rhone toward the food-rich farmlands of the Camargue.  In the evening they come flocking back to their familiar, monumenbtal roosting spots.

One co-operative Carmarguise:







This is a female Common Kestrel.  She was hawking insects in open pastures.  Judging from some of the huge grasshoppers we saw in a nearby part of Provencal, she could make apretty good living on just those insects alone:

This guy was sunning himself and was about three inches long. The same stucco garden wall held another dozen or so grasshoppers of equal size on a thirty foot length.  Yum.

The most common raptor in the Camargue as over much of western Europe, the buteo Common Buzzard.  Below is evidence there was something on the distant power pylon.  It was a Common Buzzard, that my word for it.  🙂


  1. Harry,

    Sande and I just returned from a vacation in France, where we also had a chance to visit the Camargue. In the Parc Ornithologique we saw (among others) Flamingos (of course), Sacred Ibises, Spotted Crakes, Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Red-crested and Common Pochards, White Storks and Cetti’s Warblers. Perhaps my favorite spotting was a pair of European Bee-eaters, which we saw near the village of Signes in Provence. Beautiful little birds.

    A question: do you know the name of the giant insects that act like hummingbirds?


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