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Birding around Grenoble and Chamrousse, for bird watchers and photographers
Chamrousse village extends in three differents areas, from 1600m (5250ft) and 1800m (5900ft) high. Slopes summit in accessible in summer and winter with the gondola lift and reach 2250m (7400ft).
Whereas the lower parts of the village are surrounded by a mixt forest, altitude grasslands stretch between Arolla pines (Pinus cembra) and Heath and Bilberries moorlands. Peaks around have to be reached hiking and has the characteristic rocky profile of the Belledonne mountain range. The Arselle peatland (or mire) and Achard lake have a Natura 2000 status as well as other local protection (Sensitive Natural Area, Site Classé, ZNIEFF) and nearby cliffs give a fantastic view on the Romanche valley 1000m below.
This diversified habitat allow the occurence of many species on a short scale.
Citril Finches (carduelis citrinella) and Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) fill the village streets from mid-March, Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) can be met at any altitude, depending of seasons. Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea) and Common Linnet (Lanaria cannabina) come during May. Four species are seen on a daily basis. You can hear Black Grouses (Lyrurus tetrix) singing from the resort from mid-March. We meet Dunnocks (Prunella modularis), Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), White or Grey wagtail (Motacilla alba / cinerea), Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) sing as loud as they can. Hundreds of Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) arrive.
By the end of spring, Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris) vocalize in the young trees, whereas Water Pipits (Anthus spinoletta) fly over the alpine meadows. Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus) can often be heard singing.
Sometimes a couple of Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) can be observed.
Swallows, Martins and Swifts and European Serin (Serinus serinus) in the village, Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis) and Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) on alpine meadows and Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) by the forests are commonly seen. There is good chances to see Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus), Golden Eagles (Aquila Chrysaetos), Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) near by the cliffs as well as Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) and some few Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis). May be in the coming years we will have the chance to observe Lammergeier / Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) coming from Les Ecrins. Different Tits are easy to observe in the woods as well as Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla). Redpolls and Citril Finches climbs up to the summits but stay accessible by gondola lift.
Black Grouses (Lyrurus tetrix) sing again besides hiking trails be the beginning of September. Different Tits, finches, Sparrows, Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus) gather in flocks of tens ... Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) sometime wanders around. Pigmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) sings in the forest.
Coal Tits (Periparus ater), Crested Tits (Lophophanes cristatus), Willow Tits (Poecile montanus), Great Tits (Parus major), Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) often come to feeders. In the forests Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) join their groups. During bad weather periods, at the feeders also come Alpine Accentor (Prunella Collaris) and White-winged Snowfinches (Montifringilla nivalis). Some Grey Partridges (Perdix perdix) can also be seen with same weather condition.
Black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) tracks are many in the forests but the suffer heavily from disturbance.
All year round
Among permanent residents, you can be sure to spot Ravens (Corvus corax) or Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus). Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocops major), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) are commonly seen in the woods. Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) are omnipresent due to the Arolla Pines forest and are some kind of mascot here.
Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) is supposed to be breeding but remains hard to see. Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) is present at really low density.
Below Chamrousse, Lake Luitel natural reserve and coniferous forests are good for Black Woodpecker and other forest species. Some streams host White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus).
Further West, Vercors highlands can be a good choice for Vultures, mountain Owls, Ptarmigan and Grouses, Pipits, ...
Your guide will bring you to the species you want to spot so you can check your favorites alpine birds.