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A Report from

Fribourg , Switzerland, 11th -18th May 2011 ,

Allan Finlayson

The purpose of this trip was mainly to visit our daughter, currently studying at the University of Fribourg. We stayed at the Hôtel du Faucon, Rue de Lausanne, in Fribourg, which is in the plain of Switzerland between the Alps and the Jura Mountains - an area which is probably rarely visited by birdwatchers, compared with the more spectacular Alpine regions.

We flew from Edinburgh to Basel direct with EasyJet, then by train from Basel to Fribourg. Fribourg is a very attractive medieval town, founded in 1157, with mazes of winding streets, old buildings and spectacular cliff scenery – great for pottering about. French is the main language, although German is also spoken and many people speak English. Interesting places within easy travelling distance are the Swiss capital Bern, Gruyères (where the cheese comes from), Broc (to visit the Nestlè chocolate factory – with free samples at the end!) and Schwarzsee (a very attractive mountain lake, one hour's bus ride away).

The worst thing about Switzerland is that it is horrendously expensive. That was one reason why we only stayed for a week. Food, accommodation and travel all cost a great deal more than in the UK, and so care must be taken in choosing where to stay, eat and visit. Exchange rate as at April 2011 -  1 Swiss franc = 68p; £1 = Sf 1.46.

The hotel we chose (see above) was by far the cheapest and best value for money. A seven day stay for two cost 840 Sf. (about (£600), plus breakfast at 15sf each per day.

Breakfasts were, however, very good, of the 'all you can eat' buffet type. Hotel staff were very friendly and helpful, and the accommodation was perfectly adequate. The only drawback was that you have to check in on the day of your arrival by 09.00pm – we made it by about 20 minutes!

Eating out also requires careful choice. A meal from the lower end of the menu will cost about 25- 30sf  (£17 -£22) for a main course and a large beer. Food was quite good, although buying the cheaper options probably meant, in some cases at least, less exciting fare.

We decided not to hire a car but to travel about by train and bus. Train travel costs about 35Sf per 100 kilometres (£22.75 for 60 miles). Return tickets are no cheaper than single fares, except for long distances, and bus fares are, surprisingly, the same as trains.

On the plus side, public transport is very reliable, connections always work beautifully, and everything is always runs on time.

As regards nature, by far the best place to visit in the area is the Pro Natura reserve at Champ Pittet, on the outskirts of Yverdon les Bains at Lake Neuchâtel. This can be accessed from Fribourg by hourly train. There is a station at Champ Pittet, and it is an easy 45 minute walk into Yverdon les Bains from there, a pleasant option after your visit.

The reserve is quite small and compact and thus easily worked. It consists of reedbeds and woodland, and every attempt has been made to make it accessible. For example, a tower hide overlooks the reedbeds, giving excellent panoramic views, and there are trails through the woods, with a seat beside one of the ponds where you can watch the comings and goings in comfort. Further information can be found in 'Where to watch birds in Switzerland', published by Christopher Helm.



1. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Recorded fromFribourg (12/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

2. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5, at least 3 pairs).

3. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

4. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

5. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
2 Recorded from Léchelles (17/5).

6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

7. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
Recorded from Bern (14/5).

8. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

9. Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5, 36 together on the lake).

10. Tufted Duck (Atthya fuligula)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5).

11. Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5) and Bern (14/5, 2 pairs).

12. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Recorded from Bulle (13/5), Gruyères (13/5), Broc (13/5, 3 soaring together) and Schwarzsee (15/5). Very common and widespread.13. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Recorded circling over Fribourg (12/5 and 15/5).

14. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Recorded from Léchelles (17/5).

15. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Recorded from Bulle (13/5) and Léchelles (17/5).

16. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

17. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

18. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Recorded from Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

19. Herring Gull (Larus argentateus)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Bern (14/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

20. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Recorded from Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

21. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Recorded from Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

22. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Bern (14/5) and Yverdon les Bains (16/5).

23. Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

24. Common Swift (Apus apus)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5), Bern (14/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

25. Alpine Swift (Apus melba)
At least 6 nesting in buildings in central Fribourg (16/5).

26. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Recorded from Schwarzsee (15/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

27. Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

28. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).

29. Common Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5).

30. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Recorded from Schwarzsee (15/5).

31. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5) and Schwarzsee (15/5).

32. Common House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

33. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

34. Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Recorded fromFribourg (12/5),Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

35. White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
Surprisingly, recorded from Bern city centre (14/5), where river fast and deep, apparently unsuitable habitat.

36. European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

37. Nightingale (Luscinia megarrhynchos)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5), where 3-4 singing.

38. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

39. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5) and Schwarzsee (15/5).

40. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Recorded from Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

41. Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Bern (14/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

42. Common Magpie (Pica pica)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5) and Fribourg (15/5).

43. Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Recorded fromFribourg (15/5).

44. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone corone)
Recorded fromFribourg (12/5), Gruyères (13/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) andEstavayer le Lac (17/5).

45. Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Recorded from Bern (14/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

46. Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

47. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenbaenus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

48. European Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Recorded from Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

49. Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (17/5).

50. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Gruyères (13/5), Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

51. Chiffchaff (Pylloscopus collybita)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Gruyères (13/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5) and Champ Pittet (16/5).

52. Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (17/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

53. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Recorded from Fribourg (15/5) and Champ Pittet (17/5).

54.Great Tit (Parus major)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Broc (13/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Yverdon les Bains (17/5).

55. Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

56. Treecreeper spp. (Certhia)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

57. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Bulle (13/5), Gruyères (13/5), Bern (14/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

58. Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

59. Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Gruyères (13/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Champ Pittet (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

60. European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Recorded from Fribourg (13/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

61. European Serin (Carduelis chloris)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Gruyères (13/5), Schwarzsee (15/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

62. European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5), Champ Pittet (16/5), Yverdon les Bains (16/5) and Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

63. Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Recorded fromChamp Pittet (16/5).

Unconfirmed sightings: A possible Hobby near Basel (11/5).


1. Green-veined White (Pieris napi)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (16/5).

2. Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Recorded from Broc (13/5).

3. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5).

4. Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus)
Recorded from Broc (13/5).

5. Common Blue (Polyommatus icarius)
Recorded from Broc (13/5).

6. Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5).

7. Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)
Recorded from Champ Pittet (17/5).

8. Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5).

9. Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
Recorded from Gruyères (13/5).

Damselflies and Dragonflies

1. Azure Bluet (Coenagrion puella) Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).

2. Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).

3. Hairy Hawker (Brachytron pratense) Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).

4. Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).2-3 other species seen at Champ Pittet but not identified.

Reptiles and amphibians

1. Marsh/Pool/Edible Frog (Rana spp.)Very common at Champ Pittet (16/5), also at Estavayer le Lac (17/5).

2. Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) Recorded fromChamp Pittet (17/5).


1. Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
Recorded from Bern (14/5).

Land Snails1. Roman Snail (Helix pomatia)
Recorded from Fribourg (12/5).2-3 other species seen but not identified.Other creaturesA Carpenter Bee species was seen at Champ Pittet (16/5).

A Red-tailed Bumblebee species seen at Estayaver le Lac (17/5)

SPECIES TOTALS Total seen New species   Unconfirmed 
Beetles 1 1 0
Birds  63 0 1
Butterflies  9 1 0
Damselfies and Dragonflies 4 1 2
Land Snails 1 0 3
Reptiles and Amphibians 2 0 0
 TOTALS  80 3 5


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