A Flamingo In Northern France?!

The Parc de Marquenterre is a nature reserve on the Bay of the Somme (Baie de la Somme), known for its many birds that congregate on its lakes and wetlands. 

Since Ross is a passionate bird man and a member of the wonderful RSPB in England, it was inevitable that we’d end up at several such places! For me, it’s an excuse to improve my photography and gaze longingly at the pro bird photographers with their huge lenses and expensive cameras whilst having Ross teach me about the different species he’s spotted. 

When it comes to anything involving wild animals, you never know what you’re going to be able to spot but we were so lucky on our visit to Parc de Marquenterre. It just about made up for the price – which was 10€50 for adults (they sadly didn’t do student tickets). Personally, I would have been happier paying 8€ maximum for the visit, bearing in mind that a trip to a RSPB reserve back home is £7 for non-members (and free for members of course). 

You can choose from three different routes to go around the nature reserve, depending on how far you want to walk. We picked the longest route, which took you around the whole park. It took us about 3 hours to go around, with lots of stops for spotting various feathered friends. They had quite a few hides dotted around the walk – little huts that hide the fact that lots of humans are creeping on the birds.

We saw a heck of a lot of ducks and some swans, but we had a handful of really amazing hold-your-breath-and-try-not-to-wet-yourself-sightings as well. Quite early on, when we’d established that there were really a lot of ducks but hadn’t seen much else, Ross turned to me and said what he really REALLY oh-god-really wanted to see was a spoonbill. 

Well, about 10 minutes later we saw THREE SPOONBILLS. And I just about managed to photograph one flying! We also saw some little egrets and a great white one (though Ross didn’t believe I’d seen it until he did as well). I mean, I am very much in the baby stages of bird watching (I can tell if something is a duck but I can’t tell what kind of duck mostly) but the egrets and spoonbills were spectacular – even *I* could tell they were special. 

Spoonbill in flight

Oh, and we also saw a flamingo. In Northern France. A FLIPPIN’ FLAMINGO. It was very lost I think, because they should be in Spain/Turkey/Tunisia at this time of year. Seeing that flash of bright pink amongst the browns and whites on the bird filled lake made our day though.

Flamingo chilling on the lake

To all newbies like myself, I 100% recommend getting yourself a little bird book and some binoculars and having a few day trips out because you never know what you’re going to see and it’s quite thrilling in a weird way. I’ve also realised that bird watching is pretty similar to playing Pokémon – everyone gets excited when you see a rare one (though throwing balls at birds is frowned upon).

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