Some weeks ago, close friends visited Freiburg. Together we (Thorsten Bittner, Christian Höfs, Jan Sohler, Lukas Thiess, Joachim Wimmer) visited different sites in Germany and Switzerland. Our first trips with a part of the group (some of the group claimed they would have to work) were in southern Germany. We tried to find a crazy Caipercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in the Black Forest – as almost all of my attempts with this individual without sucess. Nevertheless we were in good mood…
Snowy Black Forest
Searching in the misty silence for the Caipercaillie.
The following day, we were looking for a wintering Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria). This colourful bird from the Alps spends the winter in lower areas in mines and rock faces. The Wallcreeper didn’t want to appear at first, but a pair of Peregrine (Falco peregrinus), copulating right in front of us was a splendid encounter.
Finally the ‘toast of the wall’ appeared: a Wallcreeper! Frantic as they are, but it made a real show for us.
Although it is very colourful, it is hard to detect in the distance
Wallcreepers search for food in rock fissures
Always moving, it is hard to photograph
The weekend we spent in Switzerland. There is a site, the ‘Gemmipass’ well known to bird watchers and photographers as it is possible to watch Lammergeier there very close. I wanted to visit this site since probably five years – but there was always something that stopped me from realization of the trip. Well, this time it worked thanks to Joachim. Weather was perfect for our plans and the vultures were very active.
The site is also famous for its tame Ravens, Alpine Choughs, Alpine Accentors and White-winged Snowfinchs:
There haven’t been a lot of snow in my area this year. And as I just moved for some weeks to Leipzig (thanks for the flat, Alex!!) it is unlikely, that I will have the chance to encounter much ice and cold any more.
Of course, this isn’t true for the “big” mountains. Also May can be very cold there. In May 2014, I have been in the High Tatra in Slovakia. These are very rocky mountains and they deeply impressed me.
Hiking through some kind of gorge in about 2200 m of altitude, I found a perfect winter landscape with no human beeing around.
But just when I thought, I am completely alone up there on the peak, I discovered two Alpine Accentors. They were playing in the snow, singing, playing tag and finally performing the courtship display. Neither ice nor frostiness could discourage them.
It was time to return and as there was a iced film on the snow, it was possible to “go skiing” on my alpine boots quite well. In the lower areas, some ice was already melting.
When the first alpine meadows came in view again, I encountered a group of “Tatra”-Chamois and few Alpine Marmots.
In the evening at the car, it felt strange to be back in spring, with the warm sun and green meadows with flowers anywhere. It felt like I had been travelling between seasons.