Thursday, 1 October 2015

Alpine Marmots and Ibex in the French Alps

I had a quick trip to the French Alps in the surrounding areas of Chamonix and it was a great excuse to get out and see what wildlife I could find. On my first little walk it was pouring down so I was pleased when I happened to see a female Ibex with her young. It was quite misty and I think that helped me to get quite close to them before they spotted me. As these are not found in the UK I was really pleased to see them....

Alpine Ibex, Capra ibex

On my walk up the track I was able to compare some of the plants with those found on the mountains at home. There was alpine lady's mantle and tormentil in abundance. The other noticable factor was that they were much bigger plants with much bigger leaves than those we have in the UK. I also found some great chunky clubmosses and an abundance of juniper which was great to see.

Alpine Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla alpina
Harebell, Campanula rotundifolia
Alpine vegetation including juniper
The other thing that caught my eye was the green lichen covered rock. The rock was plastered with it and as lichen is considered an indicator of good air quality, you could say with confidence that the air is pretty clean in the Chamonix area!! The landscape in general was stunning and as the rain stopped pouring and the cloud lifted a little I was rewarded with a great view back down the valley.

Other interesting things I found along my way was fungi and more lichen. The was an abundance of lichen coming to life in the damper air of September. I also found plenty of cladonia type lichens and one in particular which looked a lot like reindeer moss. I cannot say for sure that it was reindeer moss but looked very much like it with the hooked antler ends. There was also plenty of 'pixie cup' type lichens - and again these were much bigger than the ones I have seen in the UK.

Possible Reindeer Moss, Cladonia rangiferina

The other delights along the way were some alpine donkeys! It was a bit unexpected to see them and I am guessing they were not wild and I have since discovered you can actually do treks by donkey or they are used as baggage carriers!

And of course no trip to the Alps would be complete without seeing some marmots. Have a look at my previous post to see some more pics and a little video about these lovely furry creatures...
Alpine Marmot, Marmota marmota

Just to finish off this post I thought I would add a couple of stunning scenery pics. Although this was not a mountaineering trip - it vrought back many fond memories of being high in the mountains and on Mont Blanc which is all tied in with my love of naitre and just being outdoors. What an amazing world we live in.....

View from the Aguille de Midi Station

The Mer de Glace
Petit Dru
The blue ice of the Ice Cave under the Mer de Glace

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