National Geographic : 1956 May
A Stately Flamingo Dips Serpentine Neck to Feed Her Chick In the wind-swept marshes of the Camargue, flamingos live in a world all their own. In late April, sometimes each second or third year, they build a city on the flooded plain. Mud nests crowd to gether like rows of flowerpots upside down. Gregarious birds gabble and preen as they wait for their young to break out of their white-shelled prisons. In their first two weeks the chicks bill-feed on a "pigeon's milk" regurgitated by their doting parents. But many ways of the fla mingo seem strange. Some times the females lay eggs on the open ground and abandon them (as on right). Although adult birds can find their way back to the home nest, they do not appear to recognize their own off spring. But a stray chick is welcomed and cared for at any nest in flamingo city. Le Cuziat, Rapho-Guillumette 698 It is chiefly for this mad affair that the bulls are raised, although in a few Provencal cities they are fought and killed in the Span ish manner. In the Camargue the course libre is a ruling passion, and a fleet-footed, daring razeteur is a local hero. The usual prize offered for the feat is a dollar or two-and glory-although in some of the larger cities of Provence a particularly famous razeteur may receive several hundred dollars for a single afternoon's work. The razeteurs rushed about the ring to con fuse the animal, raced up behind him to slap his flanks, and, if he charged, ran for dear life. It was no disgrace to flee or to leap the wooden fence. At one point, after photographing the now enraptured stands, I turned to speak to Michel. But he had disappeared. So had everyone else in the little alley. For the bull had leaped the barrier and was running straight at me! The frightened animal tore * past as I hurled myself over the fence into the ring, where I found the others. But there he was again, inside the ring. What a scramble! We all went back over the fence, into the alley. I myself fell on my back and tried to hold the camera out of the way as a giggling old woman tumbled down on me. And all this scrambling over the fence and back again-this was the great thrill of the week for many a Camarguais. For although the razeteurs were marvelously adept, when hard-pressed, at taking the fence at one leap-so was the bull! He often fol lowed them over the fence and into the alley. At the end of this strenuous afternoon Michel offered me a pastis at an outdoor cafe. Gypsies were packing their derelict cars and breaking camp, across the way. A gardian waved as he passed by with a laugh ing Arlesienne riding in front of him on his horse. "One fights off boredom in the Camargue, n'est-ce-pas?" he said with a smile. It was the only understatement I ever heard in that delightful delta.