North: Why a seagull has become the attraction of a beach and could cancel an offshore wind project

For the past week, it has been the attraction of Leffrincoucke beach, near Dunkirk, in the North. Sunday, a hundred paparazzi were still out with their cameras to try to see … a seagull. But not just any. The bird, which has found refuge on the northern coasts, is a Ross’s gull, extremely rare in our regions.

As soon as the news of its presence was known, naturalists from all over France – even from Belgium and the Netherlands – tumbled into the small seaside town. And this discovery risks adding an element to the dossier of opponents of the offshore wind turbine project off Dunkirk.

“I did not expect such a craze”

“When I shared my discovery on social networks, I did not expect such enthusiasm. »Claire Mariani is a novice naturalist who has been learning birding for two years with the Ornithologist and Naturalist Group of the North (GON). During an observation session on the beach of Leffrincoucke, last Monday, she crashes on a strange little seagull that she does not know.

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“I took a picture of her and looked for her name, before sending a message to the ornithologist networks, she tells 20 Minutes. And there, I understood the magnitude of the discovery. I received messages from everywhere to come and see her. In fact, I was very lucky to come across this species. “

In France, there are only ten sightings of this seagull from the Arctic. The last dated from 2014. And in the North, the bird was seen only twice, in 2000 and 2004. All week, in Leffrincoucke, it was enough, this time, to follow the telescopes to locate it. .

“She is not afraid of man”

“It’s a young seagull that has undoubtedly got lost a bit,” underlines Vincent Gavériaux, naturalist at GON. She is originally from Canada, Greenland or Siberia, in countries where she never meets humans. This is why she is not afraid of it and is easily approached, unlike the usual seagulls. “

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Ross's gull, with a fisherman on foot, on Leffrincoucke beach, in the North.
Ross’s gull, with a fisherman on foot, on Leffrincoucke beach, in the North. – Thierry Tancrez / GON

This peculiarity therefore sharpens the curiosity of passers-by and gives rise to comical scenes. “She has already made friends with a fisherman on foot,” jokes Vincent Gavérieux. He throws shrimps and bloodworms at him, it saves him from having to look for food and it could encourage him to stay a little longer in our latitudes. “

Unique corridor in the world for migration

But beyond the anecdote, the presence of this Ross’s gull will give a new argument against the installation of offshore wind turbines off Dunkirk. “This rare and protected bird is an additional element in the file, assures the association Vent Debout which campaigns against the project. We know that the place where wind turbines are to be built is an exceptional and unique corridor in the world for the migration of birds. Here is further proof. “

This offshore wind turbine project on a Natura 2000 protected site was launched in 2016. The impact study is still in progress and, according to our information, the public inquiry is due to take place at the end of 2022.

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