While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Well, the Alpine Accentors think its spring

I have not seen a single Alpine Accentor (Alpenbraunelle) in the many long months since the snows set in up in the mountains. I have looked for them.
And I have three theories:
  1. They have been super super shy,
  2. Alpine Accentors hibernate under the snow like Marmots, or
  3. Alpine Accentors move to slightly lower altitudes in winter (maybe Südtirol /Alto Adige in Italy).
After a good while with rather rough, stormy, snowy weather, we had a nice warming over the last few days. And as soon as the sun started to come out, the birds flew out in full song. Everywhere you went, there were tits singing, blackbirds chirping and common buzzards screeching.

Heading back up the Sellraintal to Kühtai, I expected to find the regular White-winged Snowfinches.
Not a sausage.
It seems they are only about when the weather is rotten. and the warmer weather and spring feaver got them dashing off in to the mountains to set up their territories (many already have their breeding-colours black bill).

not finding any snowfinches and only a couple of Alpine Choughs early in the morning, I decided to go skiing for a while. The pistes were magical and soft. Off-piste there was a goog 60cm of fluffy soft powder snow. That kept me more than busy for a few hours.

Now that I think of it, I have kept my birder eye in the sky the whole winter, looking for a soaring Golden Eagle and not seen a single one! I wonder what has happened to them? Everything I have read says that Golden Eagles reamin in their territories through winter, but live in expanded home ranges. That means that - given the huge amount of time I spend watching nature and being in the mountains of Tirol - I should have seen at least one poor, cold, half-frozen Golden Eagle in that time. mmm

After playing in the powder snow for a good while, I decided to go for a little walk around the village of Kühtai to see what I could find. The village is actually pretty good year-round for finding high Alpine birds (and quite possibly my favorite alpine birding spot in Tirol).
As I was getting ready to leave, my cell phone rings.
I check my phone, but it is doing nothing.
Still, I hear the ring tone.
(I had, at one stage, an Alpine Accentor song as my ringtone)
So I scan the roof tops and quickly find the culprit.
A lovely singing Alpine Accentor on the roof above me.

If you look really hard, you can see the Alpine Accentor at the apex of the roof.

I had my binoculars with me, and my camera, and tried my hardest to get a couple of digibinning photos of the Alpine Accentor, but it was just too far away to get anything decent. But at least you can see that it is an Alpine Accentor!

This is quite possibly a bird from the group that uses the little clump of trees just west of Kühtai (under the Dreiseenbahn Sesselbahn/chair lift).

Alpine Accentor feeding on some scraps on the ground

So, it seems that the Alpine Accentors are back and singing, and the White-winged Snowfinches are convinced it is almost breeding time - it must be spring!

For other blog entries (and lots more information) on Alpine Accentors, click here.

Happy birding
Dale Forbes

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