swallow dranseThis swallow was just asking to be photographed, perched on a cable at Thonon-les-Bains, France. The photo was taken about a month ago. By now this bird is probably well on its way down to South Africa for the winter, part of the great seasonal bird migrations.

We’ll miss that ceaseless flying to and fro over open ground or water catching insects, and look forward to next year’s return.


We often see cormorants in the UK, usually the odd specimen perched fishing from a log or rock, sometimes in small groups. It was quite refreshing, then, to come across a large group of hundreds of these birds, perched in trees around a lake at the Dranse estuary nature reserve near Thonon-les-Bains on the southern shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

cormorants dranse.JPG

There was a constant to-ing and fro-ing, with a smaller number of them directly fishing from the lake surface or in characteristic wing-drying pose.

The size of this population is a testament to the health of the waters and fish populations in Lac Leman.

Of course, you will also see cormorants by the sea, as they can live with both salt water and fresh water.

Shy Grebes

Great crested grebes are reasonably common in the UK, but not usually as numerously evident as the ubiquitous mallards, coots and moorhens. So it was refreshing to come across a large group of around 30 of these birds at the nature reserve on the Dranse estuary near Thonon-les-Bains on the southern shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

It was noticeable that, as soon as they became aware of our presence, the grebes moved further away, out of decent range of our 300mm-lens-equivalent travel zooms. The featured image was the best shot I could manage.

So the crested grebes seem to be fairly shy birds, which is the reputation of the little grebe, of which there were also some specimens present at the Dranse. The history of being hunted for their feathers probably explains why these birds are so wary of human beings.