The Camargue is a swampy national park that sprawls down the Rhône delta in the South of France. It is known for its beautiful wildlife. Wild horses and black bulls roam the area while beautiful pink Flamingos fly over. Sounds like a dream. And it is. Shooting flamingos has been a goal for me for quite some time now and I was pleasantly surprised they actually lived in France!
Finding the Flamingos
We expected it to be quite a challenge finding them down there, however, they are everywhere. At night you can see them flying over as regular geese would. I really wanted to see if it would be possible to get up close and personal with them. One of my lifelong goals is to wide-angle each animal. If that fails due to the animals not being comfortable with that at least get close enough with my zoom lens for a great ‘headshot’ to add to the collection of ‘animal heads squares’. To up our chances, it would be helpful to get a concentrated ‘herd’ in front of the camera. After some research online (i.e. google maps + search ‘flamingo’) Parc Ornithologique Pont du Gau popped up. A park ‘created’ to freely house flamingos and animals local to the Camargue. The photos and reviews seem amazeballs so we got camping as close to it as possible, made camp, and prepared the cameras for the next morning.
Shooting the Flamingos
We got up early to make sure we had the maximum time with the flamingos and readily waited at the gate for it to open. From the moment you get in they are everywhere. Luckily, they spend most of the day eating, sleeping, and perhaps flying off in search of some more food. All animals do this I guess and so do humans come to think of it… Anyway, what makes the flamingos so exciting to watch is that they undertake these otherwise quite ordinary activities in a very particular manner. They eat by sticking their heads underwater while stomping their feet to loosen their food from the ground. So we got a really beautiful collection of wobbling flamingo butts. After stilling their hunger they will put up one leg and park their heads on their bodies. It’s quite a sight!
At the Parc Ornithologique Pont du Gau you can get super close to the flamingos. Oddly enough the best place to get really close is near the entrance in front of the little restaurant. We spent the entire day there and came home with 2000+ new pics and big grins on our faces. So epic.
Some epic facts
In order to appreciate these animals a bit more check out these flamingo facts you didn’t know you needed to know:
Why do flamingos have such thin legs?
They live in aquatic habitats and wade around looking for food. Their long thin legs elevate them above the water’s surface.
Why do Flamingos stand on one leg?
Like most birds Flamingos often stand on one leg. They do this to keep the foot warm and conserve body heat. On top of that, they conserve energy as standing on two legs costs muscle energy. Although it should be noted that this ‘fact’ is still debated in the academic community.
What are the flamingos doing when they stick their heads underwater?
They are eating. Flamingos have a special beak or bill. Most of the flamingo species has the comb structure on its beak. It helps them to filter any food that they want to consume, such as algae and shrimp. To loosen them from the great they stomp their feet around.