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The power lines will no longer bother the migratory birds of the Saligue aux Oiseaux

07/04/2022 | After a few months of work in the heart of the ornithological reserve of La Saligue aux Oiseaux in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the aerial electricity network has disappeared from the protected site.

It was under a beautiful cloudless blue sky that the Departmental Federation of Hunters of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, owner and manager of the ornithological reserve of the Saligue aux Oiseaux de Biron-Castétis, celebrated alongside elected officials and partners, the end of an “exceptional” project. That of the burial of a medium voltage line, a “real wart” in this wild and preserved landscape, produced and co-financed by Enedis. More than unattractive, this line which crossed the marsh had, on a foggy morning, the annoying inconvenience of not being visible to the birds… leading to often fatal collisions. However, the Saligues aux Oiseaux is an important resting place for migrants.

A stone’s throw from the Biron-Orthez leisure centre, more than 170 species of birds pass through the Saligue aux Oiseaux each year. “This site, recognized as a sensitive natural area, is a veritable migratory funnel. It is the last wetland before the Pyrenees, and therefore a resting place for the birds before attacking the crossing of the mountain. », details Christian Péboscq, deputy director of the Departmental Federation of Hunters (FDC 64). While some species end their migration south there, others will go as far as Senegal to find warmth, he says. Many and varied species meet here, sometimes rare and protected.

Protection of biodiversity
A zone of rest but also sometimes of danger: the 365-meter overhead electrical network that haunted the zone stopped a number of these winged travelers dead in their tracks. “It is difficult to establish a precise figure, in particular because of the rapid predation on dead or injured birds. But the burial of this line, covers a real ecological interest, in addition to its tourist interest by restoring all its beauty to the site »supports Arnaud Fontaine, happy vice-president of the FDC 64. Christian Peboscq confirms the rapid disappearance of small birds injured or killed by a collision with the line, “but the number of large birds, such as swans or herons, which also have more difficulty avoiding the obstacle, was far from low”he says.

The project partners and elected officials took part in an end-of-site visit to the Saligue aux Oiseaux

It was this ecological interest in the protection of biodiversity and the rallying to the hunters’ cause of Senator Denise Saint-Pé, at the time also president of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Departmental Energy Syndicate, that convinced François Tillous, territorial director of Enedis Pyrénées-Atlantiques, to intervene in this landfill.

“Usually we carry out landfill sites only when the network is exposed to the risk of power cuts for local residents. Our first role is that there is no cut, or as little as possible. But here, there was no impact on the power supply, and we have no intention of burying a line solely for aesthetic reasons”, he explains. A concern also for the good use of taxpayers’ money, he specifies. But the environmental argument with regard to the group’s CSR policy finally led the director to accept the request, validating the idea of ​​an investment in equal shares with the Federation of Hunters for the completion of the work.

Burial under the lake, and scarers

This project costing around €100,000, carried out between October 2021 and January 2022, has thus made it possible to eliminate almost the entire aerial network. “We have buried an average of 80 cm deep nearly 800 meters of power line which now largely passes under the lake. It also led to major development and stone work at the level of the weir, which no longer resembles at all what it used to be”testifies Jérôme Babonneau, the business manager on this file.

The only part that could not be buried is the line that crosses the Gave de Pau, in the immediate vicinity of the marsh. Although it is not very visible to walkers, the bird risk on this line has also been taken into account with the installation of two avifauna systems. On the one hand, the classic installation of pins on the poles and on the other hand, more innovative, the installation, by drone, of a dozen reflective beacons directly on the electric cables. “These allow better visibility for birds passing by,” explains the manager.

Aerial network maintained above the Gave but equipped with bird scarers and an old post maintained for nesting

Finally, to perfect the environmental vocation and biodiversity of the place, the federation of hunters asked to keep some old poles stripped of their line to transform them into nesting boxes for storks.

Solene Meric
By Solene Meric

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