The Camargue and surrounding area is a superb place to go birding. The areas we visited were: La Capelliere, Méjanes, Mas du Cabassolle, Mas d'Agon, Etang du Vaccarès, Parc Ornithologique, Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Salin du Giraud, Etang du Galabert and Etang du Fangassier.
Heading down into the Camargue we drove to la Capelliere, a reserve just east of Etang de Vaccarés. We stopped just north of here next to a marshy area with very tall reeds. Here we saw two Great Reed Warblers, one Cetti's Warbler, two Melodious Warblers, six Zitting Cisticolas and House Sparrow. Also we found some small green tree-frogs.
The reserve itself was quiet and rather dry. We did get lots of Cetti's Warblers as we walked around plus a juvenille Black-crowned Night-heron and a few Little Egrets.
Driving back north up the D368 we added one Little Gull flying over Etang de Vaccarès. We turned left along the D37 and stopped at a place called Mas du Cabassolle. We stopped here to watch a group of 47 Cattle Egrets and eight Little Egrets feeding amongst a herd of cows.
Back down the road of Mas d'Agon and west along the D37, we turned left to Mejanes. There is a path from here to the north-western corner of Etang de Vaccarès. From this path we saw Western Marsh-Harrier, Greater Flamingo, one, two then three Caspian Terns, 43 Wood Sandpipers, about 210 Northern Shoveler, ten Little Terns, one Pied Avocet and hundreds of Common Coot.
We decided to go back to Mas d'Agon to look again at the egrets and herons. This time we saw three Squacco Herons, 23 Little Egrets, and seven Purple Herons in a marsh with only their heads and upper necks showing. Back up at the bridge over the stream were two Squacco Herons, two Black Terns and one Whiskered Tern.
Down the D570 and into the Camargue proper, is the entrance to the Parc Ornithologique. On one side of the road is a small pool which held two White Storks, Grey Heron and Little Egret. These were soon joined by two Squacco Herons which showed very well.
At the southern end of the D570 is the village of Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer. At the eastern edge of the village is the beginning of a path known as Digue à la Mer which crosses a large part of the Camargue. We walked only about a kilometre along the path but did see thousands of Greater Flamingoes, numerous Little Egrets and Black-headed Gulls, and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Barn Swallows.
Back at the Parc Ornithologique the storks were still showing well and were joined by a Gull-billed Tern. In the information centre of the Parc is a large plate glass window overlooking a pool and reed bed. Here we saw Greater Flamingo, Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns, Little Egrets and one Black-winged Stilt.
We walked around the reserve paths adding Bearded Parrotbill, Cetti's Warbler, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and an immature Black-crowned Night-heron. Common ducks included Gadwall, Mallard, Common Teal and Tufted Duck, More unusual ducks seen were Red-crested Pochard, a female Garganey and a male Ferruginous Duck. With a group of Greater Flamingoes was a Common Crane. As we started to leave eleven Purple Herons flew overhead.
We drove down the D36 to Salin de Giraud where we saw Kentish Plover, about 350 Curlew Sandpipers (by far the most I've ever seen in one place), Dunlin, Little and Greater Ringed Plover, Black, Gull-billed and Common Terns, Greater Flamingo, Little Stint and about 40 Cattle Egrets.
Salin de Girauds
After a time on the beach we drove along the road between Etang de Galabert and Etang du Fangassier (north-west of Salin de Giraud). Between the beach and this road we saw a total of 22 European Rollers on the telegraph wires. We stopped between the two lakes and checked the water and lake edges. Here we saw Common, Gull-billed and Little Terns, Greater Flamingo, Common Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Common Sandpiper, Western Marsh-Harrier, Little Stint, Kentish Plover and Slender-billed Gull. This was the best site we found for Slender-billed Gull.