Winter in the mountains

After some very hot days here in February, we have to ask: is this winter already over? It would be a pity!

Here some photos from Switerland I took few weeks ago.

White-winged Snowfinch
Adult Lammergeier
Red-billed Chough
Adult Lammergeier patroulling the mountain slopes
Alpine Choughs in the snow
Adult Lammergeier in front of the Matterhorn
Lammergeier in its 6th calendar year
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French Alps

Another short trip – this time to France. I met a friend and college, Julien R., to record and discuss Crossbills. We visited different places in the French Alps. The days started long before sunrise and we hiked through the mountains during the early morning. Here are some impressions:

Moon in the forest
Vercors, French Alps
Sunset in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Julien recording crossbills in the forest

As we hoped, we found very interesting crossbills. When I show you the photos, they look like every other Red Crossbill. You need to hear the voice of these birds to be able to recognize them. As this is the topic of my PhD, it was really fascinating to meet some of these special birds of the southern Alps, which I heard on my computer many times but not in reality.

Male Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
Female Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

Now some more photos from the trip:

Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum)
Opening in the forest, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
Opening in the forest, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
Alpine meadows changing colour in autumn, National Park Vanoise, French Alps
Erosion ditches in the slope, National Park Vanoise, French Alps
The last sunray in the valley, French Alps
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Archive complete

It’s done: all biIt’s done: all bird species of the Western Palearctic that I photographed until December 2016 are in the online archive. Finally I added photos of one of my favourite groups – the Grouses. All birds of this group are hard to find and hard to observe – so every encounter is an adventure.

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix ssp. tetrix) adult female well hiding behind a trunk. Ural Mountains, Russia, 16.06.2016

I have spent many hours finding them, watching them, approaching them without disturbing them and finally photographing them. Some of them live in the densest thicket like the hazel grouse and it is easy to understand that they are hardly observable.

Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia ssp. volgensis), motionless hiding in a tree. Bialowieza, Poland, adult male

Other species of the family are found in the open like the Ptarmigan. However, they live in the high montane regions and, thanks to their camouflage, it takes a long time to discover them in winter.

Rock Ptarmigan 8Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica), Germany, adult male, winter plumage

They sometimes dig themselve into the snow for resting and all you see later are their tracks.

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica), track coming from the left. It dug into the snow for resting and later walked further to the back

But as soon as you are rewarded with a real encounter, you know it was worth the effort.

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica) jumping adult male, 28.12.2013, Germany
Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus ssp. crassirostris), Germany, adult male, displaying
Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix ssp. tetrix), Germany, adult male
Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica), Great Britain, winter group
Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus ssp. koreni), Russia (Ural), adult male hiding behind a bush
Hazel Grouse(Bonasa bonasia ssp. volgensis), adult male. An extremely lucky moment, in which the Hazel Grouse perched on this truck. Bialowieza, Poland, 24.04.2014
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Two trips into pristine areas

Few weeks ago, I returned from a trip to the Baikal area in southeastern Russia. Together with Malte B. we were looking for different kind of animals and pristine landscape. It was a sucessful trip and I will surely show you further photos soon

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Right afterwards, I accompanied an excursion of the University to the Ticino area in southern Switzerland. We visited a valley with still quite pristine landscape. We came just right for the flowering of Alpine Roses. Here you see three photos of the amazing colourful meadows:

The different flowers in combination with many different insects and birds have been a real highlight!

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) in the flowers
Male Lasiocampa quercus (Eichenspinner)

 

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BWE: Val Piora in southern Swiss

I missed to publish a blogpost as I am travelling at the moment…

Here some photos of a trip, I did with Manfred K. to the Val Piora in July 2014. The landscape is formed by many lakes and steep mountains. Worth to visit…

BWE: Val Piora in southern Swiss

BWE: The Julian Alps in Slowenia

The Alps always fascinated me a lot. In September 2014, I decided to give the slowenian part a chance. As there was very bad weather when I arrived, I drove at once further to the south. On my way back, I was a little bit more lucky with the weather – but I had poorly just one day of time left. Nevertheless, it was a nice day.

Take a look and enjoy the beauty of the eastern Alps!

BWE: The Julian Alps in Slowenia

Beautiful Wild Europe (BWE) – The project

Thailand, USA, Australia, New Zealand… some typical holiday destinations for many people. It is hip to go there, to be able to talk with the others who have been there. Reasons to visit these countries are often the amazing landscape and nature. At the same time, few people are aware of the beautiful wilderness in Europe, of the breathtaking landscapes, of the very special animals and the beautiful flowers.

For this reason, I thought about a project for a long time: I want to show this beauty, to make people aware, that it is not really necessary to travel always that far. To show that the beautiful places are right in front of our door or not far away. And to show, what we lost already and what we will loose, if we proceed in our way of life.

Within the scope of this project, I will present different areas in Europe, special animals or plants or just special places. I already started with some posts – and I will proceed.

Maybe, you get inspired by these places and next time, it is not Vietnam but the Balkan you travel to!

 

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Beautiful Wild Europe (BWE) – The project