Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Alpine birding

Alpine birding is a case of quality over quantity at the best of times, but even more so on our recent family holiday. We made quite of bit of effort to get into the high mountains, but, with hindsight, probably not high enough to connect with some of the more sought after species like Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor and Snowfinch. We still managed memorable encounters with some special birds of the area though - in addition to the raptors in my last post, some other highlights are below.
You have to get up high to see an Alpine Chough - but when you do they can be very confiding
Son George and I hiked up from the Col de la Colombiere at 1600m to a high ridge at 2300m to see these
First sign of an Alpine Chough is the distinctive call - even more high pitched and wheezy than its red-billed cousin which we get in the UK
Characterful birds
A pair were scavenging scraps from picnickers on the ridge
On the way up to the ridge we passed through the feeding area for the local Crag Martin colony
A difficult bird to photograph
Eventually captured on film after a close fly-past
A robust bird, bigger than the local House Martins
Black Redstart appeared to be the commonest bird in the Alpine pastures...
...followed closely by Water Pipit
Female Black Redstart
Unable to photograph a couple of Citril Finch which flew past at Col de la Colombiere, I had more success with this male Linnet
Despite gaining considerable height, this was as close as I got to a Griffon Vulture (Col de la Colombiere)
Alpine Chough gather in large flocks on the Alpine Peaks
Yomping up another slope above Col du Petit Saint Bernard on the French-Italian border (more on which in a later post), a Marmot's alarm call gave away the presence of an immature Golden Eagle - the second Eagle of the trip

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