Photo essay: Ramsar study tour to the Camargue, 2001


The Camargue in southern France, part of the delta of the Rhône river into the Mediterranean, is one of Europe's greatest wetlands, and certainly one of its best-managed wetlands. No wonder, then, that Ramsar Bureau staff and friends should wish to investigate what's really going on down there.

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Saturday morning, a view of Arles from the amphitheatre (Photo: Sandra Hails)

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The amphitheatre in Arles, photographed by Sandra whilst planning lunch.

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Ramsar Bureau staff, recalling the Convention's origins in waterbird conservation, seek flamingos. The lady on the right is doing pre-Raphaelite instead.

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Whoops, there are the flamingos, just as promised. Standing there in the water, looking downwards. With some purpose in view no doubt. (Might make great mine detectors perhaps.)

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Here's the obligatory generic wetland shot: "Camargue, France (Photo: Sandra Hails)"

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Very serious bird watching in prospect: Ramsar knows how to focus its efforts singlemindedly until the goal has been achieved. In this case, however, the birds had already moved on, so the gear went back into the car, and so did staff.

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Tobias Salathé, an extraordinary teacher, leads the walk round the La Capelière nature reserve in the Camargue and pauses frequently to explain all the nuances about both the wildlife and the management techniques being employed.

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Ramsar UFO-Watchers hoping that this one will be the Big One. Enough of those grainy cigar photos -- with this equipment we ought to be able to get the definitive story on alien invasive species from outer space. (On this occasion, though, they landed, checked us out for a few moments, and then left again.)

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Way out on some force-fed salines, which took most of the life out of our automobiles' shock absorbers, Dr Salathé refers to a map in an effort to explain why all the birds are off nesting and feeding their young and occupying their time with canasta at some other place, but not here, until next Tuesday.

That's two days down, down in the Camargue, and there's one more to go.

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