With its beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, the charming town of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps is an ideal location for birdwatching. The large expanse of sparkling clean freshwater attracts many species of waterbird in addition to the common Mute Swans and Mallard ducks. Lake Annecy is a wonderful place if you are interested in birds.
Great Crested Grebe
One bird to look out for on the lake is the Great Crested Grebe. This large and attractive species has plumes on its head that make it look elegant but for which it was once hunted almost to extinction in the UK. It is an excellent diver and spends a lot of its time searching for food underwater. The Great Crested Grebe nests at the water’s edge and the young grebes are ready to swim at a very early age, although they often ride on the backs of their parents too.
The Great Crested Grebe has an elaborate courtship display making it a wonderful subject for birdwatchers to be able to see if they are lucky enough to be in Annecy in the bird’s mating season. The birds rise up out of the water and shake their heads as they display to each other.
Other birds to look out for at Lake Annecy include the Goosander,Grey Herons and Yellow-legged Gulls.
Birds of the alpine mountains, forests and meadows
As well as looking on and around the lake, the birdwatcher will delight in the sheer number of bird species of the French Alps that can be found in the forests, meadows and mountains in the surrounding countryside.
The Col de la Colombière is a mountain pass in the Annecy region that is one particularly recommended location for spotting a good variety of birds. The Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle and Short-toed Eagle have been reported here, as have Alpine Ring Ouzels, Citril Finches, Blackcaps, Black Redstarts, Linnets, Northern Wheatears, Rock Thrushes, White Wagtails, Common Ravens and Alpine Choughs. Even the Nightingale can sometimes be heard singing here high in the alps. The surrounding rocky peaks are just right for raptors, and besides the already mentioned Lammergeiers and Eagles, Black Kites, Griffon Vultures, Peregrine Falcons and Buzzards all live here.
The Lammergeiers have a breeding population and are the successful result of a release programme. It is always good to see threatened species of wildlife returned to their natural habitats.
Naturalists will be amazed at the flora and fauna that can be found in this alpine paradise when it comes to the world of nature. The countryside around Annecy offers a variety of habitats supporting a large number of plants and animals.
Besides appreciating the wonders of the natural world, you can speak in French to local people you will meet in the area. Annecy is the perfect place for studying the language of France too because the town has its own language school. Annecy is surely one of the best places in the world when it comes to bird watching and learning French.