abroad in our campervan. Last year, we spent time in the French and Andorran
Pyrenees, this year we decided to spend a fortnight travelling from Dunkerque to
visiting lot's of interesting places. Although this wasn't a birding holiday as such, i
couldn't leave my optics at home!
Herring Gull on the ferry
first camp at Luxermbourg, Esch-Sur-Sure
The village near the campsite had breeding Fieldfare, Hawfinch
and Honey Buzzard
Honey Buzzard (above) mobbed by common Buzzard
Honey Buzzard (below) with Common Buzzard
male and female Honey Buzzards
The next day (Aug 2nd) we visited two villages in Luxembourg before heading for
Switzerland. At the border we had to pay forty euros to drive on the roads. The Swiss
are very good at relieving you of your money!
On route i saw Golden Oriole, White Stork and Honey Buzzard.
picture postcard Swiss village
birding the forest trail
mist draws in
On the morning of the 3rd we visited Grindelwald and spent the morning walking on
one of the forest trails up the mountain. Unfortunately the weather closed in and we
spent a lot of time sheltering from the rain.Whilst doing so i encountered my first Nut-
cracker, which was to be one of many.
Other highlights were the abundance of Crested and Willow Tits and Black Redstart.
A single Pallid Swift was over the town.
Leaving Grindelwald we headed for the Grimsel pass, a very scenic drive in
Switzerland, stopping frequently to take in the outstanding views.
this adult bird was feeding young
Swiss cow meets camper!
The Matterhorn one of Switzerland's highest mountains was next on the visit list and
we spent a full day hiking up to 2500+ metres in plimsoles!
This was the best day of the trip so far, for birds anyway, with the following seen:
Pallid Swift, Crag Martin, Alpine Chough, Red-backed Shrike, Golden Eagle,
Serin, Water Pipit, Nutcracker, Firecrest, Goshawk and of course Black Redstarts.
The Matterhorn from Zermatt
Julie, with the town of Zermatt in the distance
The next day we drove down to Italy. Where we spent a few days visiting
various coastal towns and villages along with Pisa and Venice. I didn't get the chance for
much birding but saw my first Italian Sparrows and had a huge flock of migrating Bee eaters
fly over the van on the morning of the 7th.
I can save it!
Views from up the tower
Med' Gulls, Venice
On route to Venice we stopped at Port Levante, the site is basically lagoons and
was excellent for birds. Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel, and Wood Sandpiper were
some of the many waders. Pygmy Cormorant, Black-necked Grebe, Purple,
Squacco and Night Herons, Flamingo, Montagu's Harrier, marsh Terns, etc, it was great.
Next stop after Italy was Austria, on route we came across a bridge with a gathering
of Crag Martins that gave excellent views.
leaving Italy for the Austrian Alps
The highlight of the trip for us was the time we spent at Grossglockner in Austria.
The entry of 29 euros was well worth it for the sheer abundance of mammals, in
particular Alpine Marmots and Ibex.
Prior to our arrival, we saw only half a dozen Marmots in Switzerland, here we saw
around forty! A small group near the main car park had become habituated, as you can
see from the images, they were not timid!
We arrived at Glossglockner during a snow shower
This chap was a little heavier than a typical Marmot
Alpine (Yellow-billed) Chough feeding juvenile
The Alpine Choughs came so close that this image was taken with a wide angle lens.
The views were stunning and made better by the improving weather as the morning
wore on. Again, in plimsoles we walked as far as possible, (around 3000 metres)
before it became too dangerous to continue.
A steady stream of climbers made it to Grossglockner summit that day, helped by the
calm, sunny conditions. Bird interest comprised, Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor, Raven,
Water Pipit, Black Redstart, Snowfinch, Wheatear and numerous Alpine Choughs.
Observation tower and information centre. I saw Wallcreeper here, albeit a stuffed one!
Alpine Accentor (look hard)
Me, photographing Snowfinch. We saw three at this picnic site, they were present for
only two minutes before flying off strongly.
The road into the park
Later that day we drove the van up to Edelweisspitze, at 2571 metres above sea levelit offers the best view point of the area. The views were stunning.
on the way down
We spent the night in one of the valley bottoms by a waterfall and headed for Krimmler
Falls in the morning. The woods held good numbers of Nutcracker and Crested Tit but
the place was soon over-run with tourists by late morning.
Mayrhofen from the cable car
looking for Citril Finch (didn't find any!)
spot the birder
Entrance to the tunnel, with the house on top of the
some of the views