You can find this interview in Letter N°14 sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.
Carole completed a year of civic service* at the Tour du Valat as part of the species team. Subsequently, she was recruited on a fixed-term contract to work on various team projects, including monitoring a colony of Eurasian Gulls and Eurasian Spoonbills.
*Civic service is a French device for encouraging commitment to citizenship. It offers young people aged 16 to 25 the possibility of committing for a period of 6 to 12 months in a mission of general interest.
When did you first come to Tour du Valat, and why ?
I arrived one Sunday evening in October 2016, to begin my civic service with Marion Vittecoq in the “species” department and more particularly in the “health ecology” and “ornithology” team.
What was your first impression ?
I had never been to the Camargue before and frankly after passing Le Sambuc I told myself that I was lost! I ended up in the courtyard of the plane trees. I did not expect to see this very wooded place after all the fields and the ditches filled with reeds. I was greeted by the current residents of L’École [“The School”, the building where research assitants often stay] and was really touched by their kindness and the good atmosphere that prevailed.
What is your favourite memory of Tour du Valat ?
A really difficult question – most of my memories of Tour du Valat are so incredible! I wouldn’t choose just one, but rather a collection of memories. During my CDD I had the chance to follow the reproduction of the Eurasian Spoonbill – to have the opportunity to observe the birds closely and watch the chicks growing up week by week was really super and beautiful! I was so lucky to be able to work for almost two years in these environments rich in biodiversity and to be able to follow all the species so closely.
What was your best meeting at Tour du Valat ?
There are several, Tour du Valat is filled with amazing, welcoming and caring people. Nevertheless Marion Vittecoq remains outstanding. She is an exceptional woman and researcher, she has done so much and I cannot thank her enough for all she has done for me! She sees the best in each of us, she is always motivated and smiling and she shares it all! Working with her has been a huge pleasure!
Which, for you, is the species most emblematic of the Camargue ?
Again it’s hard to choose and I’ve already mentioned the White Spoonbills so I would say the Common Crane. It can be seen in many places but for me it represents the winter atmosphere of Tour du Valat. Watching them fly just above you on the way home on winter evenings always makes me feel so good.
Why have you become a Friend of Tour du Valat ?
I joined the Association because my time at Tour du Valat was memorable and really important to me. I was so happy with the people I was able to meet and want to keep in touch and to stay informed of what is happening at Tour du Valat.
Do you have any advice or messages for others who might take a similar side-trip to Tour du Valat in their life?
Make the most of it! Tour du Valat is magical and enriching, so go out, observe, contemplate, study … and above all, go with each technician or researcher on their different missions.
You should also talk to everybody at Tour du Valat, each person – they all have tips, stories and anecdotes to share and that is what for me is part of the richness of Tour du Valat.