White-throated Dippers in the valleys of the Vosges

WasseramselA black bird with partially white belly rushes in a low flight along between huge boulders over the fast-flowing stream. For sure, this is a White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Often you see them with nesting material in the beak. These are the classic photos that you see of dippers. They fly preferably to and from exposed spots, as stones outstanding on the water.

Over moss-grown stones and some meters high cascades, the clear water rushes through varied mixed forests. Beside Dippers, Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) as well as Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) are to be found here.

The streams that flow from the Vosges in an easterly direction to the Upper Rhine, have to overcome a considerable slope. Their eroding power is correspondingly strong. Deeply cut valleys with steep flanks therefore characterize the southeastern Vosges. Particularly interesting in terms of photography are the valleys of the Doller below the Lac d’Alfeld and the Thur above the Lac de Kruth-Wildenstein with their numerous tributaries. On the upper reaches of the Doller, Beavers (Castor castor) have been spreading for some time now. At the beginning of the seventies, a couple of beavers was set in the Doller. Today, the big rodents populate the whole Buckertal valley up to Lac Sewen. However, you hardly get to see the animals, but their gnawing traces can be found everywhere.

The valley of the westward-flowing Vologne above the Lac de Retournemer on the road from the Col de la Schlucht to Gerardmer is also very photogenic. At the Cascade de Charlemagne, the river squeezes between huge boulders. Especially for the water-rich time of the snow-melt there are good conditions for landscape surveys in the valleys. Thanks to the canopy of trees not yet closed, the light conditions are usually better than in summer.

So you can see: not also from a landscape perspective, the steep forests of mountain gorges are fantastic.

After a photographic adventure in the deeply cut valleys, you might be interested to take pictures under the open sun. Or you are lucky and fog is rising. That ensures a completely different atmosphere. Photographing spots might be switched from the valleys and gorges to alpine meadows. The mountain meadows in the Vosges are very attractive particulary in summer time. Beside birds of the alpine zone one sees some interesting plants like Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Arnica (Arnica montana), Small Alpine Cow-bell (Pulsatilla alpina), Yellow and Blue Vosges Pansies (Viola lutea). Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) are certainly the most common species of birds, but some rare bird species live in the cliffs and boulder fields as well. If you are lucky, you may spot the Common Rock Thrush or Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or other “high mountain species” such as Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris).

The most beautiful experiment is an exploration of the Vosges along the Route des Cretes. It is no coincidence that some of the highest mountains in the southern Vosges in French are called “balloons” in the Alsatian “Belchen”. Gently rounded, largely tree-free, the mighty granite ridges rise from the surrounding deciduous forests. To get a first impression of the landscape, we recommend the approximately 60-kilometer drive along the high-altitude route “Route des Cretes” from the Col du Bonhomme west of Kaysersberg to Cernay northwest of Muhlhouse.

In addition to the sometimes spectacular views, the Route des Cretes offers an ideal starting point for numerous excursions to the different habitats of the high Vosges. Along the road there are plenty of parking spaces that provide access to the many well-marked trails.

By the way, not far from Hoheneck there is a beautifully landscaped botanical garden. It is the “Jardin d’Altitude du Haut-Chitelet”. This garden gives a broad insight into the native as well as the alpine flora.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western Palearctic.  Trips to remote places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give bird-lens.com a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com in the pictures shop.

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