1956 Carmargue (Rhone Delta), France
The information about this expedition is taken from issue 96 of felix:
The party made up of ten botanists and zoologists started out for the Rhone delta on August 14th and were away for a month. Their transport consisted of two taxis, one of which had been adapted as a small lorry, and both were grossly overloaded. Although these two vehicles did not seem safe, most of the adventurers travelled quite comfortably. Exceptions were the driver and co-driver of the small lorry who were subjected to continuous vibration, nauseating fumes and noise caused by a faulty exhaust pipe.
The Great Camargue - the Rhone Delta - destination of the expedition, was found to be hot, sticky and populated by enormous mosquitos. The combination of these factors, together with the local wine (drunk because of the trouble that had to be taken to sterilise the drinking water before use), unsettled all the travellers . They learnt quite a lot about living in adverse surroundings and in carrying out ecological work under difficult conditions.
The Great Camargue was later quitted for the Petit Camargue with its islands of umbrella pines among dry salt lakes. Vegetation in the delta area being controlled by salty conditions and thus being somewhat atypical, the expedition moved to Meome, north of Toulon, and spent three days among pleasant Mediterranean oak and pine forest at about 800'. The birds studied in both areas were impressive, ranging from flamingos and egrets to hoopoes, and some truly delightful specimens discovered in Stes. Maries.
The Journey cost each member less than 224 francs a day in food (4/2d). Petrol cost each person about £2 for the round trip. The two taxis which gave such sterling service are now, to the chagrin of the party, to be sold to the highest bidder. It is now the opinion of the team that in future expeditions of this nature fewer people, say about six, would work better as a team. They regret that they paid little attention to the condition of their tyres before taking the two taxis on to the Continent. They would have preferred faster and more robust transport even though travelling around in old taxis dressed in Bohemian attire seems to be the "done thing" these days.
The members of the expedition wish us to record their thanks to all members of staff and the department at Silwood for making the trip a success.