Birding Geneva, Part 1

Beth and I arrived in Geneva late Tuesday night on the Cisalpino. Wednesday we took a day trip to Lausanne. We climbed the Escaliers du Marché to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, stopping along the way to look at a few Carrion Crows in a local park. Then we took the subway down to the lakefront and Olympic Park, where we enjoyed coffee and chestnuts, as well as some Mallards, Tufted Ducks, European Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Mute Swans, Great Cormorants, and two Grey Herons perched high in a tree.

Tufted Duck in Lausanne

By now we had adjusted to European time so Thursday we woke up in time to do a little early birding before Beth’s first rehearsal. We walked to the Parc des Bastions which is famous for its Murs des Réformateurs (Wall of the Reformers). This isn’t a large park, but it’s big enough to have a few interesting passerines. In fact, only two were familiar from the U.S., Rock Pigeon and House Sparrow.

Carrion crows were common. And almost immediately we found European Robin and Great Tit. We strolled down the main concourse of the park, which thoughtfully provided an excellent exhibit of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s photographs entitled Earth from Above to distract Beth while I looked at birds from below. :-)

European Robin in Parc des Bastions

I quickly added Long-tailed Tit and Blue Tit. A Nuthatch was immediately obvious as a Nuthatch. Unlike the European Robin, this bird is clearly related to its American counterpart and was thus incredibly easy to find in the field guide. Next up was the Eurasian Tree Creeper, another bird that looks and behaves very much like its American counterpart Brown Creeper. Unfortunately it looks even more similar to the Short-toed Tree Creeper, and birds in the bush can be reliably distinguished only by voice. Since it didn’t sing (and since I wouldn’t recognize the song even if it did) I can’t be sure about this one. I do know it was a life bird. I just don’t know which one. :-(

The final bird for the Park was a Chaffinch, one of the most common European birds. However, it’s relatively non-descript compared to the tits; and I was not familiar with it, so I had to spot several more examples of it later in the trip before I became confident that’s what I’d seen.

We exited from the Southeast end of the Parc and walked over into old town to visit the Cathédral St-Pierre. There are some very interesting excavations underneath it. We left the cathedral and wandered back through the old city on the way to our Hotel and Beth’s rehearsal.

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