World Wetlands Day 2004 --


Ramsar and friends around Lac Léman (Lake Geneva)

Here's a brief report by Estelle Gironnet and Sandra Hails on the activities on February 1st of some the Ramsar staff who didn't get to go to Mali or Mexico or Athens for World Wetlands Day:

To celebrate World Wetlands Day and the locally organized Journée lémanique, a dynamic group of Ramsar, CITES and IUCN people joined forces with the NGOs Nos oiseaux, Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO), and the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman (ASL) for a birdwatching morning around Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).

The three NGOs had worked together to set up small stands at various locations around the lake, supplying publications to passers-by about their activities as well as providing binoculars, telescopes and expertise to help identify the birdlife on the lake. We took advantage of their efforts, making stops at three of their stands during the morning.

Our first stop was in Ouchy (Lausanne) where we met with young ornithologists from Groupe des Jeunes de Nos Oiseaux eager to help us and other members of the public identify the birds.

First stop Ouchy, with the Groupe des Jeunes de Nos Oiseaux
Barry Pretorious, an IUCN spouse, learning about lake birdlife from a young birding expert
A view of Lac Léman at Ouchy

Following this we made a brief detour for reviving coffees and croissants and then moved further round the lake to Vevey, meeting up with an older, but no less passionate, group to look at more birdlife on the lake. And finally, when we could tear ourselves away from a couple of Pintail ducks (Anas acuta) at this site (not to mention numerous pochard, goosander, tufted ducks, coot, swans, a confusing assemblage of gulls, and a solitary widgeon probably wondering where all the other widgeon were), we moved off to the final stop.

Having topped up the caffeine levels in Ouchy, we head for the cars and on to Vevey . . . . .
. . . where Ramsar's Nassima Aghanim, Ivan Valencia and Estelle Gironnet (far left) and the rest of us join some other bird enthusiasts at Vevey
Flying the Ramsar flag
Mute swans watching bird watchers watching mute swans
A male goosander munching on ..... a sumptuous piece of stale Swiss baguette!
A tufted duck, a pintail and a black-headed gull
Ramsar's Iván Dario Valencia proving that he can manage his binoculars AND his crutches simultaneously
A rowdy pochard

And so on to the Les Grangettes Ramsar site where we were welcomed by M. Olivier Epar (Fondation des Grangettes) and the author and photographer Jean-Marc Fivat. Jean-Marc kindly signed two copies of his beautiful coffee table book Le Léman à tire d'ailes for members of our group.

Jean Marc Fivat signing his book for Alice Burke from the CITES Convention Secretariat in Geneva
Marceil Yeater from CITES learning about lake birdlife from the literature provided by the Les Grangettes staff
The rumbling of our collective stomachs drowns out the sound of any wildlife so we only manage a brief sortie
into the Les Grangettes site

Thanks to all the volunteers at the various sites, to M. Barbalat from Nos Oiseaux who provided us with all the necessary information to organize this field trip …and to the stunning weather, this event was very pleasant and instructive, we all had a good time and we didn't really want to go to Mali, Mexico, or Athens anyway.

-- Reported by Estelle Gironnet and Sandra Hails, photos by Nassima Aghanim, Sandra Hails and Maja Zitkovic.

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