Yesterday we visited the Camargue. This place has stayed in our memories since our first visit in 2011. The vast Rhone river delta forms a maze of streams, lakes, and estuaries as it empties into the Mediterranean. That is the Camargue, famous for flamingos and “wild” horses. Think of endless scenes to photograph, sketch, and paint!
We began with egrets, bitterns, and herons in the first lake, rounded a corner and there were the flamingos. This year round population of wild birds love the free lunch of small crustaceans in the muddy brine of the Camargue. We love their willingness to pose unceasingly for pictures.
The place where we choose to soak up the Camargue is the Ornithological Park at Pont de Gau. While birds and other wildlife inhabit the entire delta this protected park seems to house the greatest concentration. Perhaps they know they are safe here. In other parts of the Camargue National Park there are countless hunting blinds for hunting migratory waterfowl. I imagine the guns will be blazing in a couple of months. At any rate for a small fee this protected area has several miles of trails, many lakes, streams, and estuaries, toilets, and a cafe. Five hours was enough time to scratch the surface. We will return again next week with JP if he’s willing.
This is mosquito territory so one must cover up and use insect repellent. On this day there was a fair breeze that helped keep all but the most tenacious mosquitoes away. We stopped several times to do some sketching and painting, but covered about half the park in search of subjects.
As in our previous visit the flamingos hog the spotlight, but the horses steal the show. Camargue horses roam the islands and shallow lakes at will. Although wild they are often rounded up and make magnificent riding horses. We spotted a small band across one of the lakes and made our way to them. The lead mare came to the fence to see if we would offer a handout, but the others stayed a good distance away. We didn’t offer food, so we got a sniff from those velvety nostrils and that was it.