March Indoor Meeting – Jonathan Forgham – Birds of the Camargue

For our first Indoor Meeting of the year, we welcomed back Jonathan Forgham, who last spoke to us in 2014. This time, Jonathan took us the Camargue, which he has visited frequently. The talk included information about getting there and getting around, with maps showing the overall region and the major birding sites within it. Situated where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean, the area is predominantly wetlands, with small lakes, rice fields and reed beds, as well as the huge Vaccarès salt-water lagoon.
Unsurprisingly, such a location attracts a large range of species in good numbers, including a high proportion of the French bird-list. Jonathan’s selection picked up some wonderfully-sharp details, such as the red eye of the Sardinian warbler or the breeding plumage of a migratory sanderling (more familiar here as a pale-grey wintering wader on the Norfolk coast). Never will you see a better close-up of a flamingo’s head, but perhaps the stand-out image was of a scarlet darter dragonfly, among a series of non-bird slides towards the end of the talk.
An outline like this doesn’t do justice to a thoroughly entertaining evening, with anecdotes and digressions ranging from Jonathan’s Essex garden during lockdown to the learning centre that he supports in Sri Lanka. Excellent.

Black winged stilt – Katie Nethercoat (rspb-images.com)