Exploring Gemmipass / Tour Report April 2017
Leaving from Geneva at 6am, I picked up our 2 participants on the way to Leukerbad. Right when we arrived, a whole flock of Yellow-billed Choughs was feeding on a field. This species is so graceful and agile in flight, it was a pleasure to watch them.
Once up in altitude with our feet in the snow, we started our hike. The weather was really challenging and we knew our chances to see a Bearded Vulture were really low.
We quickly spotted a few White-winged Snowfinches, Alpine Accentors and a Black Redstart. Then, we saw a Chamois in the distance and decided to get off the beaten track to try a soft and slow approach. A Common Kestrel flew by, and soon after, we were rewarded with the most amazing encounter of the weekend : a whole hour spent with a Rock Ptarmigan!
After that, we walked and found the Chamois we spotted earlier. Keeping distance and moving slowly, we were able to approach and have him tolerate our presence until we decided to move on. That is the best kind of wildlife encounter!
Back to our accommodation, we had a nice aperitif on the terrace where 2 Yellow-billed Choughs and an Alpine Accentor paid us a quick visit.
After having a enjoyable dinner with a view, we were all ready for bed!
Waking up early, we started to hike before sunrise. The light was absolutely mind blowing. Every step we did would bring us to another level of incredible and wild beauty we got to enjoy up there.
We encountered 2 Chamois and stayed with them for a couple of hours.
On our way down, we saw again some White-winged Snowfinches, as well as an unexpected Wallcreeper!
After a quick and simple pique-nique, we headed back to the hotel. Finally, we took the cable car back down to Leukerbad and enjoyed several nice sightings of beautiful passerine birds, such as: European Serin, Fieldfare, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, European Goldfinch, Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Magpie and Common Raven.
Even though we did not have the chance to see the Bearded Vulture this time, this was a delightful tour in Valais with fantastic photographic opportunities, and I cannot wait to bring more nature lovers there.