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Parc ornithologique de Pont de Gau
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Parc ornithologique de Pont de Gau

Located in southern France on the edge of the Camargue salt marshes, the Parc ornithologique de Pont de Gau is a nature reserve harbouring thousands of birds, both resident and migratory.

History of the park

Founded in 1949 by André Lamouroux, an ardent ornithologist, the park is above all a family venture. At that time, the birds were kept in aviaries. When Lamouroux’s son René took over from his father in 1974, he decided to change the park’s vocation. He found new ways for the captive birds living in the park to remain there while moving about freely. He dismantled the aviaries and reconstructed habitats for each of the species present, to encourage the birds to establish colonies. He planted thousands of trees and created a network small islands and pathways designed entirely around the needs of the birds. Today, we can discover these extraordinary wild species along seven kilometres of pathways.

The park also has a clinic that takes in hundreds of injured birds a year. The team provides treatment, then releases them back into the wild whenever possible. Benjamin Vollot, the park’s professional bird caretaker and bander, takes part in a national monitoring program for several bird species, including the stork and the pink flamingo.

The Pink Flamingo: symbol of the Camargue

This wild bird sanctuary is the ideal location to view hundreds of pink flamingos, the emblematic bird of the Camargue. Formerly threatened with extinction, the pink flamingo is today well established in the region, though it remains a fragile species, easily disturbed by human activity. In 1977, The Tour du Valat research centre, located a few kilometres from the bird park, set up a scientific research and monitoring program for wild flamingo populations.

Each summer, researcher Arnaud Béchet, along with professional banders like Benjamin Vollot, set out to band the chicks they locate in the nesting grounds of  Îlot de Fangassier. This small island, constructed in the 1970s to support flamingo breeding, has helped to rebuild pink flamingo populations. Females lay their eggs here, and the nesting grounds teem with thousands of flamingos. Apart from pink flamingos, several other species are found at Pont de Gau, including herons, storks, egrets, teals, raptors, passerines and other small wading birds.

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