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Swiss National Park - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by Wintibird
From Ofenpass to Val Müstair


Established in 1914, this national park is one of the most scenically beautiful in Europe as well as being one of the best studied and well-managed.

In contrast to much of the country this area has been relatively undisturbed and today is very well protected and these factors have led to it being chosen as a site for a Lammergeier reintroduction programme.

Situated in the Engadine in eastern Switzerland, the park borders Italy's Stelvio NP and covers almost 170km2. Reaching 3,165m at Piz Quattervals this is a high mountain area with deep valleys and hillsides densely forested with pine, larch and spruce large areas of scrubby mountain pine at higher levels. Above the treeline there are very extensive alpine meadows.


Notable Species

Birds of the park include typical European mountain species but no major rarities except the reintroduced Lammergeier. Golden Eagle, Alpine Chough and Northern Raven are found at the highest levels as well as Rock Ptarmigan, Rock Partridge, Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper.

Water Pipit is abundant in the meadows and Eurasian Dotterel sometimes occurs on passage.

Lower down, in the forest zone there are Eurasian Eagle Owl and other owls, Hazel Grouse and Western Capercaillie, Spotted Nutcracker and woodpeckers including Black Woodpecker and Three-toed Woodpecker. Goldcrest, Common Crossbill and Citril Finch are common.


Birds you can see here include:

European Honey Buzzard, Lammergeier, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Common Kestrel, Hazel Grouse, Rock Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Western Capercaillie, Rock Partridge, Corn Crake, Eurasian Dotterel, Common Sandpiper, Common Cuckoo, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm's Owl, Eurasian Wryneck, Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Eurasian Skylark, Tree Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Eurasian Crag Martin, Common Wren, Common Dipper, Dunnock, Alpine Accentor, Eurasian Robin, Common Redstart, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Common Treecreeper, Spotted Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Carrion Crow, Northern Raven, White-winged Snowfinch, Chaffinch, European Serin, Citril Finch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Eurasian Linnet, Common Crossbill, Common Bullfinch

Other Wildlife

Mammals surviving in the park include Red Deer Cervus elaphus and Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra and the reintroduced Ibex Capra ibex with the most obvious mammal, as elsewhere in the Alps, being the Alpine Marmot Marmota marmota. Larger carnivores such as Wolf and Bear, Lynx and Wildcat were exterminated long ago.

The area has much of botanical interest especially in the flower-rich alpine meadows and above but also in the Engadine Valley in the north of the park. This is the only Swiss valley to drain into the Danube so allowing the spread of eastern plants into the area and this is the most westerly point in the range of several species. Examples are Melica transvestita and Sisymbrium strictissimum.

Site Information

Areas of Interest

To do

Access and Facilities

Access to the park is unrestricted but visitors are asked to keep to marked paths, most of the park is inaccessible in winter. There are hiking trails detailed in the National Park Guide and those covering the forest, open meadows and rocky peaks can be excellent for birds.

Hotel and dormitory accommodation can be found within the park. Buffalora has a hotel and there is a wide range of accommodation in nearby Zernez. Camping is not allowed in the park.

To reach the area by road cross the Fluela or the Julier Pass, or else take the trtain to Zernez and then the postbus to the Ofen Pass.

Contact Details

To do

External Links

Swiss National Park

Content and images originally posted by Steve