The Camargue is a river delta where the Rhône meets the sea - a marshy island bounded by two branches of the Rhône and the Mediterranean Sea. With an area of over 930 km² (360 sq. miles), the Camargue is western Europe's largest river delta, with exceptional biological diversity, and home to unique breeds of Camargue Horses and Camargue Bulls, and to more than 400 species of birds including the famous Pink Flamingoes. The Camargue the only place in France where pink flamingos nest.
Best is to go on a beautiful spring or fall day is the best time to visit the Camargue. This is the time when there are fewer mosquitoes, fewer tourists, less heat to deal with. Driving south from Nimes toward Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the landscape quickly becomes flatter, more desolate. The Camargue is registered with UNESCO.
White ponies graze amidst the long-horned black bulls…some destined for the bull ring, and ultimately the dinner table, as camarguais beef is a specialty of the region. The marshes and canals are planted with reeds, les rosiers, aka la sagne, used to roof and fence in this region.
Birds swoop and swirl everywhere, ducks, geese, seagulls, terns, egrets, herons, even eagles. And les flamants roses, pink flamingos, poise one-legged in the many ponds scattered throughout the area.
To bicycle the Camargue is a joy because you can hear the wing noises, the cries and songs of wildlife, and the rustle of marsh grasses as you pedalled the quiet, flat roads. There’s so much to say about this beautiful region, but I will leave it for now and do it then exclusively. For now it is about the flamingos and other birds.
The ideal habitat for flamingos are alkaline or salty lakes. Some of these waters have high levels of chlorides, sodium carbonates, sulphates or fluorides. Under such conditions, there are hardly any other vertebrate; the flamingos drink still water and feed on the few organisms that tolerate this environment. Not all lakes harbouring flamingos are so extreme. Is especially true for the large species among the flamingos, - and there is a correlation between the absence of fish, and the presence of flamingos. Fish are food competitors for flamingos ; where fish are numerous, flamingos are missing.
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