Birding Geneva, Part 3

Friday Beth had a hair appointment in the morning and rehearsal in the afternoon. I dropped her off at the salon along with a brief list of hair related phrases in French I’d written up the night before since the hairdresser only spoke French and Italian. (Surprisingly, as international a city as Geneva is, people there were generally less comfortable in English than I’ve found in other cities like Antwerp, Amsterdam, Venice, or even Paris. Perhaps it’s because for the Swiss English may well be their third or even fourth language rather than their second. This was great for me since it meant I could practice my French. Beth, however, had a somewhat more difficult time.)

I began with a quick peek into the cemetery at the end of the street where we were staying, It wasn’t large, but had quite a few trees that hosted Common Blackbirds and Great Tits. Carrion Crows were also present, as they were most places in the city.

From there I walked down to the Rade once more, but this time I crossed over to the other side of the Lake before turning north. Mostly the same waterfowl as yesterday were present, with one new addition: a flock of Greylag Geese that has taken up residence on the Ile de Rousseau. Thanks to an unusual walkway beneath one of the bridges that dips below the water I got a goose’s eye view of these birds:

Greylag Geese in Lake Geneva

I walked along the Rade, spotting another new bird for the trip, a Pintail (in the U.S. we call this a Northern Pintail, but it’s the same species). Other Lake birds included Goosander, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, European Coot, Mute Swan, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Cormorant, and Great Crested Grebe. There were multiple individuals of each of these species.

I continued walking to the Paquis, a sort of jetty across from the Jette d’eau on which there is a small (and I emphasize small) beach and some steam baths. At the right time of year, this is apparently a very good place for shore birds, as it’s the last beach on their migration south. However, by the day I arrived they’d all passed south. All I found were more goosanders, gulls, mallards, and house sparrows.

Continuing north, I entered Parc Mon Repos, the first in a long line of parks along this side of Lake Geneva. This provided the first Magpies of the trip. Magpies are fairly common in city parks in Western Europe, but somehow I’d managed to miss them till now. Great Tits and Blue Tits were also present, along with some European Robins.

Magpie in Parc Mon Repos, Geneva

The next park was La Perle du Lac. This included le Musée d’Histoire des Sciences, which had a really fascinating collection of scientific instruments. The surrounding also had some of the best birding. I picked up a lot of species here including my first and only woodpecker of the trip, a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Other birds found in the trees included Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Tree Creeper, and Song Thrush (another life bird).

I continued on into the Jardin Botanique where I immediately spotted a Wood Pigeon. It looks pretty much like a Rock Pigeon, only twice as big. Other birds found in the Gardens included Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, and European Jay.

European Jay in Jardin Botanique, Geneva

Past the Garden is the Chateau de l’Imperatrice. However this is not open to the public so I turned around and walked home.

That night Beth performed, and so her rehearsals were done. Saturday we took the train to Chateaux Chillon, a 11th century castle a couple of hours north of Geneva to do a little sightseeing. However, I took my binoculars and field guide with me just in case; and it’s a good thing too, because along with the now familiar Great Tits, Tufted Ducks, Goosanders, European Robins, and Great Crested Grebes, I spotted one more life bird flying back and forth along the shoreline leading up to the castle. I didn’t know what it was, and it didn’t look like anything I did know; but it was demonstrably shaking its whole hind end up and down, which suggested I should look in the section on wagtails. Yep, there it was: a Grey Wagtail, my final life bird of the trip.

One Response to “Birding Geneva, Part 3”

  1. Search and Serendipity: A Birder’s Blog » I and the Bird #12: The Canterbirdy Tales Says:

    […] Another traveler began to speak, Rusty of Mokka mit Schlag. He’d been to fair Geneva, and he had tales to tell, of a hairdresser and delightful birds, and a lifer at a castle. There was more to his tale, but he didn’t tell it all just then: Birding Geneva, Part 3. […]

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