The wilderness of the magnificent Camargue in southern France is the ideal location for a wildlife holiday. Covering a large part of the Rhone delta, this area is made up of a lagoon that is bordered by seemingly endless marshes and dunes. This region is the ideal habitat for many different species of wildlife, including the wild bulls and the white horses. For a very different kind of wildlife holiday, however, people come here to see the dragonflies and the birds.
Although tourism constantly applies pressure to more and more areas of natural beauty, the Camargue has escaped its influence and is a protected area. Known as one of Europe’s most famous wetlands, a wildlife holiday in the Camargue should be on the list of any keen nature lover. The wetlands, reed beds and shallow saline area of the Camargue, coupled with the desert like landscape of La Crau and the range of limestone hills known as Les Alpilles, offer the perfect habitat to both dragonflies and birds.
The Dragonflies of the Camargue
There are more than 30 species of dragonfly found in this region, far more than in Britain. Some of the main ones to look out for when you are exploring the countryside here are the Dusk Hawker, the Orange-spotted Emerald, the Goblet Damselfly, the Azure Damselfly and the Vagrant Emperor, which only shows up during the warmer months of summer. If you are lucky, you may even witness the male Copper Demoiselles fluttering around in intricate aerial displays attempting to court the females. As they dance together, the individuals duck and dive onto the water’s surface, and the intimacy these dragonflies create through such expression is nothing short of impressive.
There is no doubt this region is abundant with bird species, and for the avid bird lover a wildlife holiday here is a real treat. From the flocks of Flamingos to the Egrets and Bee-eaters, the birds here play a major role in the intertwined ecosystem. As the marshlands lead into rice fields, you’ll see Black-winged Stilts, Black Kites and perhaps even the Short-toed Eagle.
La Crau was originally a flood plain but now has evolved into herb-rich grassland that is the perfect habitat for Bustards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. While the Lesser Kestrels hide out in the dilapidated farm buildings, the Stone-curlews spend their days flying above the wetlands calling out with their haunting song.
Exploring the wetlands of the Camargue is an exciting adventure, and whether you are into dragonflies, birds, or both, you won’t be disappointed.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for a wildlife holiday, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.
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