Birding in Geneva - Report of the GOBG Excursion on 31.01.16

Rain, wind, the weather was not the most ideal to go birding today. The light was also really bad for photography. But I love to go birdwatching whatever the conditions are. Some of my greatest moments in nature happened in what we usually consider terrible conditions :)

I joined the excursion organized by the GOBG (Groupe Ornithologique du Bassin Genevois) to see the wintering birds of Lake Geneva. We were a group of about 10 and we had some great observations from 9am to 5pm.

We started our day at Bains des Pâquis were many Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) were bathing, preening and even parading. 

 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor)

Mute Swans (Cygnus olor)

Many other species were easily seen, such as Goosanders (Mergus merganser), Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus), etc

After a coffee break at the very nice restaurant of Bains des Pâquis, we headed to the Nature reserve of Pointe-à-la-Bise managed by the great conservation association Pro Natura. From the observation tower, we spotted a Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) walking in the reeds, as well as many many ducks enjoying this natural area protected from the wind and waves. Common Pochards (Aythya ferina), Common Coots (Fulica atra), Red-crested Pochards (Netta rufina), Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), but also a few Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca)!

 Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

The Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) is one the rarest ducks in Europe. We are very luck to seem them so easily here on Lake Geneva. There were also 2 hybrids Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) x Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca).

Back in the house of the reserve, we warmed up by the wood stove having our pique-nique and some delicious vin chaud.

After midday, we took the direction of France to go to Baie d'Excenevex, but we stopped on the way at La Savonnière in Collonge-Bellerive to see 2 Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus) in a group of Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis).

In Excenevex, our main goal was to observe the locally famous Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres). Since 1998 a Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) comes here every winter! Probably always the same individual. It is the only Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) to have ever been observed in continental Europe in winter.

 Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

I have no idea why it comes by himself every year to this exact same spot, but it is a delight to see it. I already had this chance last winter.

 Female Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Female Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

On our way back, we stopped by Rouelbeau in Meinier, trying to see the Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), but we had no luck. I have not seen this species yet but I am confident I will soon :)

Here is the list of all the species we have seen and heard today, by alphabetical order:

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Common Coot (Fulica atra)
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Eurasian Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Mew Gull (Larus canus)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans)

Lac Léman is for sure a great area to go birding. Especially in winter.

Love Nature.
Jonathan