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Leukerbad

From Opus

Photo by WintibirdView from Clabinualp in early May
Photo by Wintibird
View from Clabinualp in early May

Europe, Switzerland

Contents

[edit] Overview

Leukerbad is a mountain resort in the canton Wallis (or Valais) in southwest Switzerland. It's a great place for many alpine specialities, including Bearded Vulture and many mammals. Accomodation is easy, ranging from mountain huts to 4 star hotels.

[edit] Birds

The best months are May and June. In May there may still be some snow. Check the snow condition and don't go on closed paths. There can still be avalanches in May! July and August are still good for Vultures and Eagles but passerines may be hard to find.

Some species are quite easy to see. In the alpine forests and the alpine meadows you should see without much effort Common Cuckoo, Black Woodpecker, Eurasian Crag Martin, Water Pipit, Tree Pipit, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Lesser Whitethroat, Bonelli's Warbler, Goldcrest and Firecrest, Willow Tit (race montanus), Crested Tit, Spotted Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Citril Finch (watch out at the treeline), Rock Bunting and Common Crossbill. Bearded Vultures and Golden Eagles are usually soaring around Gemmi and the Plattenhörner later in the morning and in the afternoon. Yellow-billed Chough is very common, Red-billed Chough rare but possible.

If you go up to Gemmi you can see White-winged Snowfinch and Alpine Accentors. Rock Ptarmigan is possible as well.

Owls and Grouse are harder to find and need some luck. Black Grouse occurs in the forests, Hazel Grouse too, but this species is rather hard to find. Rock Partridges like the stony areas, listen carefully for their call. Pygmy Owl and Tengmalm's Owl both breed around Leukerbad but are seldom heard or seen. Wallcreeper is breeding in the cliffs of Gemmi and Montanji but there is no regular site to recommend. Just scan the cliffs.

[edit] Rarities

In the last years Griffon Vultures regulary reach Switzerland in May and June. They have been observed around Leukerbad several times, sometimes together with Bearded Vultures.

Photo by WintibirdView to the Plattenhörner
Photo by Wintibird
View to the Plattenhörner

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Bearded Vulture, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Hazel Grouse, Rock Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Rock Partridge, Common Cuckoo, Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm's Owl, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (rare), Eurasian Skylark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Water Pipit, Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, White-throated Dipper, Eurasian Wren, Hedge Accentor, Alpine Accentor, European Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart (village), Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Bonelli's Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wood Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Eurasian Treecreeper, Spotted Nutcracker, Eurasian Jay, Yellow-billed Chough, Red-billed Chough, Carrion Crow, Common Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, White-winged Snowfinch, Chaffinch, Citril Finch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Rock Bunting

[edit] Other Wildlife

Leukerbad is a fabulous place to observe Chamois, Ibex and Marmots. The prefer the meadows and cliffs at Montanji where hunting is banned. Especially in winter and early spring big groups can be observed. Red Squirrel is common in the forest, Roe Deer may be found too.

[edit] Site Information

[edit] History and Use

Leukerbad (or in french Loeche-les-Bains) is a mountain resort with a ski station (Torrenthorn) and thermal baths. Historically it played an important role as a gateway from the Wallis to the canton of Berne in the north.

Photo by Wintibird
Photo by Wintibird

[edit] Areas of Interest

The forest birds can be found in any forest around Leukerbad. Bearded Vultures are mostly seen at Gemmi (reachable by cableway) and Montanji. Gemmi is also good for high mountain species like Alpine Accentor and White-winged Snowfinch. The forest of Almei, north of the village is a very good place, Clabinualp is also very good and usually the first snowfree place in spring.

Be careful when walking in the mountains. Take enough clothing, food, good shoes and water with you. It may get very cold suddenly and it can snow in July! Buy a map (1:25'000) and inform someone in your hotel where you are going. Take a mobile phone with you. Check the weather forecast.

Map by WintibirdLeukerbad area
Map by Wintibird
Leukerbad area

[edit] Access and Facilities

Leukerbad can be reached by car or bus. The busses start in Leuk where Intercity Trains from Geneva to Brig stop.
From Zurich you need about 3 hours with train and bus and 4 hours with the car. From Geneva it will be 3 hours with the train and also 3 hours with car.
Accomodation in Leukerbad is plentiful and there is something for every budget (although still Swiss prices).

Leukerbad can be combined with other places in the Wallis, especially the Leukerfeld which is very close.


[edit] External Links

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