Fire salamander in the morning

•June 23, 2015 • 1 Comment

What a start into the day!

I walked on my normal way to work, along the Lake of Lucerne. Yesterday I saw a big dead fish on the shore and a very green caterpillar on one of the trees. This is the reward for my habit of looking around. 

This morning it was wet and gray. I was a bit sad that all the feathers of the swans, that they are loosing now while molting, were wet and so I couldn’t collect them. 

But suddenly I stopped in my walk – and I’m glad I did. One more step and I’d have stepped on a fire salamander!

It was definitely in the wrong place: on the tarmac between traffic and the lake. Absolutely not the place for an amphibian besides that it was wet (at the moment).

So I lifted it up and called (coordination for amphibians and reptiles in Switzerland). She told me, that fire salamanders need a little creek in a forrest or so. Nothing like that close bye. 

So I took the beautiful salamander to the office and showed it to my colleagues. The were all surprised and fascinated.   

the box outside my office window, where it had to wait


beautiful salamandra salamandra terrestris

 After another call I decided to bring it to the Rootsee, where there is a hopefully perfect habitat.    

The person I called did not forget to tell me, that fire salamanders are poisonous and I should wash my hands.   

How lucky am I to see such a beautiful creature!  

Songbirds and a lifer

•April 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The first part about my walk of last Monday was about waders and waterbirds. Today I show you some photos of songbirds and my lifer #499. (Please click on the photos to enlarge.)

The lifer #499 showed me once again how important it is to look at every bird – even when it looks like a common sparrow:

As soon as it lifted its head I saw it wasn’t a sparrow but an Ortolan Bunting (Ortolan – Emberiza hortulana)Ortolan

There were even two of them:

One I haven’t seen in years in Switzerland is a male Common Redstart (Gartenrotschwanz, Männchen – Phoenicurus phoenicurus):
Common Redstart - Gartenrotschwanz

And never in Switzerland at all the Yellow Wagtail (Schafstelze – Motacilla flava):Yellow Wagtail - Schafstelze

The Grey Wagtail is pretty common (Bergstelze – Motacilla cinerea):Gray Wagtail - Bergstelze

Pretty common but I still don’t have a good photo of it: male Common Chiffchaff (Buchfink, Männchen – Fringilla coelebs): Chiffchaff - Buchfink

Tree Sparrow (Feldspatz – Passer montanus) collecting stuff for the nest:Tree Sparrow - Feldspatz

Tree Sparrwo - Feldspatz

A Barn Swallow (Rauchschwalbe – Hirundo rustica):Barn Swallow - Rauchschwalbe

A female European Pied Flycatcher (Trauerschnäpper, Weiblich – Ficedula hypoleuca):Pied Flychatcher - Trauerschnäpper

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Buntspecht – Dendrocopos major) made some noise:Woodpecker

And there was also a frog:Frog - Frosch

Waders and Waterbirds

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I took Monday off because I really wanted to do some birding this April. And the weather was just great. I went to the Klingnauer Stausee a very well known place to bird in the German part of Switzerland and not too far away from Zurich. So I started my trip shortly after 7am at the dammed lake. Over all I saw 59 species and a lifer.

Today I show you the waders (mostly passing through Switzerland) and the other waterbirds I saw. Some of the photos were taken early in the morning, therefor the light is not so great. Other birds were far away. (Please click on the photo to enlarge.)

Common Snipe landing (Bekassine am Landen) – Gallinago gallinago:Common Snipe - Bekassine

The Common Snipe in comparison with a Coot. (Die Bekassine im Vergleich mit einem Blässhuhn.):Common Snipe - Bekassine

Common Sandpiper (Flussuferläufer) – Actitis hypoleucos:Common Sandpiper - Flussuferläufer

Two Common Terns far out in the lake. (Zwei Flussseeschwalben weit draussen im See) – Sterna hirundo: Common Tern - Flussseeschwalbe

The Common Greenshank never came closer. (Die Grünschenkel kamen nie nahe.) – Tringa nebularia:Common Greenshank - Grünschenkel Common Greenshank - Grünschenkel

I’m not 100% sure if this is a Wood Sandpiper. (Ich bin nicht 100% sicher, ob das ein Bruchwasserläufer ist.) – Tringa glareola Wood Sandpiper - Bruchwasserläufer

The Little Ringed Plover breeds in Switzerland. (Der Flussregenpfeifer brütet in der Schweiz.) – Charadrius dubius:Little Ringed Plover - Flussregenpfeifer

A Spring Day

•April 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

For four hours we walked around the Flachsee, where the river Reuss gets broader like a lake. It was a warm and overcast spring day. Just perfect – before all the young green leaves hide all the singing birds.

Over all we saw 54 species: some migrating waders like the Black-Tailed Godwit (Uferschnepfe – Limosa Limosa)

or the Common Greenshank (Grünschenkel). But also a breeding colony of Yellow-Legged Gulls (Mittelmeermöwe _ Larus Michahellis) – at least 50 nests and almost 150 gulls.
Yellow-Legged Gulls

and at least four families of Greylag Geese (Graugänse – Anser Anser) with up to seven goslings.
Greylag Goose


Just as the sun came out there was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Kleinspecht – Dendrocops Minor) picking away in the tree above us.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Waterfowl count – January 2015

•January 25, 2015 • 3 Comments

As every year, the weekend mid-January is reserved for the international waterfowl count (here is the link in German). The Saturday before the temperature was very mild. The weekend of the count it was raining or snowing all over Switzerland for Saturday. The weather forecast for Sunday was so much better that I decided to do the count on Sunday.

Over all I saw 56 bird species (not only waterfowl) and counted about 2220 birds that are included in the count.

While doing the count I don’t have too much time to take photographs. But now and then I take the big camera out – please click on the photos to enlarge.

Taking the train to the upper Lake of Zurich took me through a wonderful foggy morning landscape:
foggy landscape

The sun was rising behind the fog…

… and gave a beautiful light:morning light

I think it’s the first time that I saw a frozen freshly cut marsh:marsh

Mew Gull  (Laurs canus – Sturmmöwe)mew gull

Yellow-Legged Gull (Larus michahellis – Mittelmeemöwe):yellow legged gull

To get an impression of the different sizes: left Yellow-Legged, two bigger Mew Gulls in between the Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus – Lachmöwe)gulls

Can you spot the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta – Bergpieper)?water pipit

The Gull and the Starlings take advantage of the holes that the Curlews make with their big beaks.

European Curlew (Numenius arquata – Grosser Brachvogel)eurasian curlew

I also counted the birds at a little pond…landscape

…where I digiscoped (no real gear) this beautiful male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus – Sperber)


Warm and Stormy January Day – part II

•January 11, 2015 • 3 Comments

This female Great Spotted Woodpecker (Buntspecht – Dendrocopos major) was going for food. She sat very close but behind some other sticks, so the photos are not perfect. But I was able to see how she got that fat maggot (3rd photo) and a photo with her tongue (4th photo). In case you haven’t seen that great post of Laura Erickson about bird tongues – go see it.
Click on the photos to enlarge.

Dendrocopos major

Dendrocopos major

Dendrocopos major

Dendrocopos major

Those photos give a little impression, on how windy it was.

Mandarin Duck (Mandarinenente – Aix galericulata) in the wind:
aix galericulata

Black-headed Gull (Lachmöwe – Larus ridibundus) haning in the air:Larus ridibundus

The Lake Greifensee with waves

I also saw this female Northern Pintail (Spiessente – Anas acuta):

Mew Gull (Sturmmöwe – Larus canus)Mew Gull

Eurasian Chiffchaff (Zilpzalp – Phylloscopus collybita):Chiff Chaff


Warm and Stormy January Day – part I

•January 10, 2015 • 1 Comment

They announced warm 14°C (57°F) weather for today and I decided to take my camera and go for a long walk along a lake (Greifensee) with lots of nature. Here are my impressions (click on the photos to enlarge).

I started around 8.30am just when the sun came out behind the clouds.

morning sun

Walking along the little river I suddenly saw a beaver (Biber – Castor fiber) – I probably have never seen one that close.
Beaver - Biber - Castor fiber

Some of the birds I saw:

Red Kite (Rotmilan – Milvus Milvus) – there were many of them dancing in the wind.


Northern Shoveler (Löffelente – Anas clypeata)2015_01_10-11

Grey Heron (Graureiher – Ardea cinerea)2015_01_10-12

European Blue Tit (Blaumeise – Cyanistes caeruleus)2015_01_10-16


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