Birds of the Léman

My last post about birds concerned the great crested grebe (which appears in a most hilarious way in Scoop — “Lord Copper,” he was saying, “no man shall call me a liar unchastised. The great crested grebe does hibernate.”)

Although a more recent week-end excursion on the Léman was richer in raptors, it was also a pleasure to watch the noble heron (Héron cendré, I guess) guarding the piers:

However, the thrilling part was to watch raptors fishing; to be precise, I think most of them were the same species

which — interpreting my bird-book — is quite likely to be the Milan noir (Milvus migrans) (it might be the Milan royal, but that seems much more unlikely). Of course, most of my attempts to photograph the fishing of the milans resulted in blurry pictures of the surface of the lake; however, some succeeded, like this one

or that one

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I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

3 thoughts on “Birds of the Léman”

  1. Dear Emmanuel,

    Of the three pictures of raptors the first one depicts
    a Red Kite (Milvus milvus) – or Milan Royal in french –
    note the distinct white patches on the wing tips, the
    light grey head and the red plumage (the black kite
    gives a much browner impression on the whole) – and
    btw: Switzerland has one of the densest populations of
    red kites in the world, so it’s certainly not a rarity.

    The two other pictures show black kites. Even though young
    red kites can show brownish upper wing sides, they are never
    as “plain” as the one in the pictures. Moreover, I constantly see
    black kites go fishing over the Zurich lake, but very rarely red kites. Also note the less gracile wing posture…

    Curiously enough, one of the best spots to get good pictures of
    black kites should be the dozentenfoyer at eth. Never tried myself, but the kites can come pretty close there.

  2. Thanks a lot for the information! I’ve seen the black kites from the Dozentenfoyer many times (I can also sometimes get quite good views from my office…), but I’ve never brought my camera there unfortunately…

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