These are two endangered species that come to nest along our coasts. Birds endowed with incredible qualities, in terms of camouflage and mimicry. This is what makes them vulnerable, especially since a single disturbance is enough to disrupt the entire colony, and thus lose a generation. To give them a chance, protection zones are in place and a call for responsibility is launched.
They are discreet, weigh less than 100 grams, are capable of exploits in flight and are on the red list of vulnerable birds. The arrivals of the little tern and the ring-necked plovers are announced on the coast of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales.
For the third consecutive year, temporary defensive areas for their protection are in place, in order to preserve future broods. The most important is the town of Torreilles, near the mouth of the Bourdigou, a favorite spot for sea birds. Two small hectares, materialized by a net and information panels, are thus, by municipal decree, prohibited to humans and especially to dogs. A “confetti” on this part of the coast, which by its conditions has been chosen by terns and plovers to become a breeding spot.
These birds are extremely sensitive to disturbance
For Thierry Auga-Bascou of the Marine Park: “These migratory birds are fabulous in their mimicry, they are the kings of camouflage. Their eggs look like pebbles, and the nests are made on the dune itself, with twigs gleaned from the sea line. It’s so successful that their nest and eggs can be trampled on without realizing it.These birds are extremely sensitive to disturbance, a single intrusion and the whole colony flies away!So, to preserve them, the area must be tranquilized as much as possible “.
A general awareness is therefore necessary, for managers, defense associations and municipalities, which support the operation. It remains to convince walkers and summer visitors of the capital importance of what can be called “a dune reserve”. Especially since the means is effective, as was demonstrated in the spring of 2020. While France is confined, observers note the presence of around fifteen pairs, in the protected area near Bourdigou, and especially the first birth of a little tern chick. But the victory is short-lived, in a weekend of deconfinement, the entry into the area of walkers chased the colony, thus condemning a generation.
A citizen appeal launched
In 2021, awareness-raising continues and success is there, this time for the Kentish Plovers who settle in the protected area. The tern did not stop, it landed further in the north of the Aude and the Hérault coast.
This year, terns and plovers are expected more than ever. A few days ago, as the passages on this migration corridor intensified, a few were seen. A hope for their protectors who prepared a warm welcome in Torreilles, on the pond of Sidrières (Leucate), in Coudalère (Barcarès), and on the islets of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque.
An operation that can only succeed if it is accompanied by a general awareness. A citizen appeal is launched: “we must protect, inform, raise awareness. You must also know that disturbing a protected species is a crime, which can be punished with a fine of up to €250,000 and 2 years in prison. The constraint to save these species is simple, just do not enter the areas delimited by nets and keep your dog on a leash For users of the Salses-Leucate pond, kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddle, navigation is regulated and the places in defense are materialized , always with information upstream”.
An exemplary collective protection action
Because unity is strength, this collective protection action is exemplary. It combines the environmental missions of the French Office for Biodiversity, Pyrénées-Méditerranée Métropole, the mixed syndicate Rivage (Natura 2000 manager), and their representatives to conclude: “From now until mid-August, respecting the protection zones is fundamental. We have to agree to share a little space to save these two species. Without this nesting, the tern and the plover are condemned. So please, let’s act for their future, quite simply by not trampling on their eggs. We must not be complicit in a programmed disappearance, but we can easily be an actor in their protection!”.