Spring in the French Alps / Tour Report April 2017
Leaving Geneva early in the morning. we arrived in Servoz near Chamonix to meet Daniel. After a short drive, we parked our cars and hiked through a beautiful forest, stopping from time to time to listen to Willow Tits or watch Song Thrushes. An hour later, we arrived at our secret location : a stunning boreal forest where the Three-toed Woodpecker and the Eurasian Pygmy-owl can be seen. Among many other great bird species!
We had no luck with the Three-toed Woodpecker but we had an incredible encounter with a male Eurasian Pygmy-owl. After hearing his call a couple of times, he flew right by us and stopped on a branch only a few meters away from us! We watched him for about 20 minutes before he took off, flying at eye level between Daniel and I. It was incredible!
During our 3 hours in this forest, we saw or heard the following species: Black Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Common Chaffinch, Common Chiffchaff, Crested Tit, Eurasian Bullfinch, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Siskin, European Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Northern Nutcracker, Northern Wren, Red Crossbill, Song Thrush.
We then hiked down with the most beautiful view of the Alps and headed to another location. We had a nice pique-nique sitting in the grass, enjoying another breathtaking view of the Alps. The area is without any doubt one of the most beautiful places in the world.
We spent the afternoon hiking in a great forest where we heard the Boreal Owl and the Hazel Grouse. The list of sightings includes : Black Redstart, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Common Raven, Eurasian Blackbird, Eurasian Bullfinch, Eurasian Buzzard, Eurasian Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, European Robin, Mistle Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Water Pipit.
We also heard a Roe Deer barking and saw two females Red Deer.
A nice dinner at a local restaurant in Argentière was the perfect way to finish this great day spent in nature.
Waking up veeeery early, we hiked in the dark to another secret location to enjoy the parade of the Black Grouse. We got very unlucky as a fox passed by right when the show was about to start, making the males leave the lek. Water Pipits, a Common Linnet and a Northern Nutcracker were the other birds we saw at this location. You can never anticipate what Nature is going to offer you.
On our way back to Geneva we stopped at a location in Passy that is reknown as a great spot for migrating birds, and we spotted 13 species in less than an hour: Barn Swallow, Black Kite, Black Redstart, Carrion Crow, Common Kestrel, Common Linnet, Common Stonechat, Eurasian Buzzard, Eurasian Skylark, Grey Heron, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, White Wagtail.
Our encounter with the Eurasian Pygmy-owl was clearly the highlight of this private tour. This bird is so small and so well camouflaged that you can never see it unless it flies by you or sings near you. It is truly a fascinating species.
We cannot wait to do this tour again next year. Contact us if you are interested!