Red Deer rut, Ibex and Chamois / Tour Report September 2018
Meeting our guests at our fabulous accommodation in the morning, our guides Corentin and Jonathan started this wildlife photography tour offering them a brief visit to Briançon, France, discovering the fortifications of Vauban. We were greeted by a group of Eurasian Crag Martins gracefully flying along the cliffs.
Right after that we headed to a beautiful and quite secret location where a couple of Short-toed Snake-eagles is nesting. With a beautiful view overlooking a lake, we sat on a pique-nique table to start our lunch when we quickly spotted a Short-toed Snake-eagle! Giving a lot of tips to our guests so they can make the most of this great encounter making beautiful images, we were watching this amazing raptor when it suddenly took off, flew in our direction and landed on top of a tree right next to us!! It was absolutely incredible. We could see all the details of its plumage and its captivating yellow eyes.
We then went for a short hike in the mountains where we wanted to look for mammals. We sat on the ground and hid for a couple of hours. Only a few Chamois were spotted up the slope, but the landscape was breathtaking and the light for sunset was just stunning.
All in all it was a great first day of wildlife photography. You never know fully what nature will bring to your eyes. We finished the day with a great apero and dinner at our bnb.
Starting the second day early, we met with our guests at 5:45am so that we could drive to our next location and start hiking before sunrise. The goal of the day : Red Deers!
Once there, we directly started to hear the rear of several stags. What a powerful sound! It really gives you chills. After walking just a few minutes, we could spot them in various locations. Thanks to an efficient approach technique, making sure we stay as discreet as possible, we were able to spot more than 60 Red Deers throughout the day, watching several herds with both stags, does and fawns.
As if it was not enough :), we also spotted Marmots, a Red Fox, 3 Roe Deers, 5 Chamois and 13 Alpine Ibex. So we did see all the emblematic mammals living in the area in just one day!
Bird lovers in the group were really pleased too. We spotted 3 Golden Eagles (!!), 3 Griffon Vultures, Yellow-billed Choughs, Common Kestrels, Common Ravens, etc etc.
We spent the whole day outside, immersing ourselves in nature. We made sure we were as respectful as possible with the animals we encountered and we got the chance to witness the beauty of an entire ecosystem. It was a day to remember.
The third and last day started even a bit earlier :) and we headed to our last location in the same area. Sunset was superb.
There too we aimed to see Red Deers. The whole area of this wildlife photography workshop is one of the only places where you can see wild Red Deers in an open mountainous environment. We heard many stags rearing, then spotted 2 herds of Red Deers, 2 Chamois, a female Alpine Ibex, a big male Alpine Ibex..
and THEN! The most incredible encounter happened. While our guests were taking time enjoying our encounter with this male Alpine Ibex and making great images of it thanks to Jonathan’s teachings, our guide Corentin suddenly spotted a huge Red Deer stag coming our way. 2 minutes of pure magic followed:
Corentin has been following the Red Deer rut in this area for more than 10 years, and in his own words it was one of the greatest encounters he has ever had. Our guests could not believe their eyes. This magical moment was the most ideal way to end this wildlife photo tour. Here is a picture of our happy group with our two guides Corentin and Jonathan.
On this wildlife photography tour in the southern French Alps, we ended up spotting nothing less than 100 wild Red Deers! We have seen much more than we could have expected. It was a real delight for Corentin and Jonathan to guide this wonderful group. All the guests were fully sharing Salva Fauna’s vision of nature and how we can ethically encounter wildlife, so everything went very smoothly, just as planned. And nature truly thanked us.