Vacationers and birds: an unprecedented (and sometimes difficult) cohabitation this summer on the Aude beaches

Following the confinement of 2020 and a lesser human presence over the past two years, certain species of birds have reclaimed the coast to lay eggs on the sand of the upper beaches. The summer visitors returning this year raised the question of sharing the environment.

The natural beaches and dune environments of the Aude coast are privileged sites for the reproduction of many seabirds. For a long time, the latter fled these areas which had become too frequented by walkers, dogs, but also motor vehicles. But that was without counting on the Covid and the confinement of 2020 during which the coast found itself, for several months, deserted of all human activity. A sufficient period to encourage many species to take their place on the sand, and to make the beaches once again a privileged place of nesting. But after a year 2021 with even lower attendance, this summer 2022 was marked by the mass return of summer visitors to Aude. A cohabitation was essential: this is where the French Office for Biodiversity comes in.

Little tern nest.

Little tern nest.
Serge Boué/OFB

“Numerous nestings have been observed in previously deserted areas”confirms the latter, who also notes the return of“plant species on areas usually trampled by thousands of wheels”. For “protect these vulnerable species”barriers have been installed by the administration, certain parts of the coast having been left free of access “so that users continue to indulge in their water sports, swimming, fishing…” This did not prevent several barriers from being the target of acts of vandalism during the summer, which prompted the Aude OFB departmental service to first raise awareness, then to verbalizations. In July, several operations, including one in collaboration with the municipal police of Gruissan, were validated by the prefecture and the public prosecutor’s office: they revealed four offenses for “traffic in natural spaces”.

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