More visitors in the night…

Firstly let me say a very Happy New Year to everyone and a big THANK YOU to all my followers and especially to those of you who have provided comments throughout 2020. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that 2021 is a much more joyful year.

At the risk of becoming boring and a bit one dimensional, (I promise to go out walking when the weather improves and the sun begins to shine), I have a few more Trail cam videos for you to enjoy…

After 2 blank nights where nothing was captured at all, last night, around 11:45pm, we had two small (Roe?) deer. Again the videos are extremely short for some reason, being only 1 to 2 seconds long instead of the 10 seconds I was expecting. I’ll check the settings and let’s hope things are OK next time.

On the 2nd video you can see one of the deer taking an interest in the bin full of bird food, but it didn’t dislodge the lid. There was a 3rd clip (not shown) showing the back end of one running away, so something must have spooked them.

About 3 hours later, at least one of the two stags seen in my previous posts made another appearance. And again, I’ve stitched together 5 very short clips to make the one below. He clearly enjoyed some of the bread and carrots that we’d left out. You will be pleased to know that the, now pieced together, bird feeder is safely out of harms way, attached to the railing of our 1st floor terrace (off camera, towards the top right of the video). 😊

Another Stag Night in Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After a quiet night on Monday, when only a fox appeared on my Trail cam, last night it captured another case of wanton destruction of the bird feeder. Jude had deliberately removed all the bird food containers to see whether the stag(s) would still demolish the holder.

It snowed during the day yesterday, leaving about 3 inches of fresh snow covering the garden. The pictures below show the view this morning from our upstairs balcony. As you will see, there were lots of hoof prints, the main pole had been uprooted and bent, while the top part of the feeder was about 10 yards away, down in the field below.

This time I’d pointed the Trail camera towards the feeder to catch the culprit(s*) in action. Unfortunately, in the event, the first 10 second video was OK, but the remainder of the videos were only 1 to 2 seconds long. (I’m not sure if this is a fault in the camera, e.g. if there is constant movement when the ‘hybrid’ photo/video option is selected). Anyway to save me posting and you clicking through numerous 1 to 2 second videos, I’ve merged some of them together to show a) the stag’s arrival and b) the start of the demolition.

*One of the later videos captured, (not included here), shows the pole moving up and down without the stag in view touching it, so we suspect there is another one off camera pulling and/or pushing at the top of the feeder. Certainly we did catch 2 pairs of eyes on camera coming into the field the other night and someone in the village posted a picture of 2 stags during the daytime on facebook a few days ago. So we know there are 2 lurking in the vicinity.

Clearly they are simply looking for food and not vandals after all. But, to save dismantling the bird feeder every night, we are now going to move it up to the corner of our balcony, well out of the reach of those long antlers!

I’m afraid the following 2 videos are a bit jerky, but I hope you will get the idea.

Destruction in Evolène…

The day started brightly enough, though it was probably a sign of the imminent strong winds which have been forecast across central Europe.

Jude went outside and soon ran back in asking me to stop everything and come and look. Our bird feeder had been destroyed… again! (This happened last year too). Pieces were everywhere – the furthest being about 25 yards down the fields (to the left of the right hand bush in the first image).

It was at this point that I’d wished I’d left the Trail cam pointing in the same direction as yesterday to capture what happened. However, the culpritS have been identified…

Firstly the one I’m calling 3 pointer, because he has 3 prongs on the top of his antlers.

Immediately after the above, there was another video with sounds of bashing and crashing. Here’s his partner in crime – 2 pointer.

In the midst of this mayhem, a fox trotted across a few times, but this was the best video.

One of them obviously had something stuck on its antlers as it came back into view trying to get rid of whatever it was. There’s no tree or bush to the right where it’s standing.

Last, but not least 3 pointer returns to check on his handiwork…

First Time Lucky…

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day. One of the presents my lovely wife gave me was a Trail camera. It has “Dual image sensors optimized for highest quality images day and night.” So, like all boys with new toys, I was onto it straight away, inserting the batteries and setting it up. I had a choice between video and still images and one called hybrid. I wasn’t sure what the hybrid option did, as the instruction booklet didn’t seem to cover that. I was so keen to get it fixed to our tree that I didn’t have time to read ALL the instructions! (I’ve subsequently learnt, via the online instructions, that it can do both video and still photos at the same time! 😊)

So yesterday afternoon, I strapped it to the tree at the corner of our garden, between 3 and 4 feet up and crossed my fingers. (No time to do a test of course!)

There was a little more snow later yesterday evening and when I awoke this morning I noticed some tracks across the garden. Yippee, I thought, I can’t wait to see what happened. Well, upon inserting the SD card into my laptop I noticed not one, but 30 files! Six of these were taken this morning (which turned out to be me shovelling the snow away and approaching the camera to remove it). All 24 of the others were taken within about 10 minutes of each other. So I was hopeful that whatever it was, it had mooched about for a bit.

In the event, the very first file showed the video below, while all the others were just falling snow. (Maybe the creature was slightly off camera). I plan to adjust the settings and try again this evening (as there’s no snow forecast). I’ll also point it out towards our field as there seems to have been a lot more activity there. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

For the techies amongst you, the device is a Bushnell, Core DS, model no. 119977M.

Note: You’ll have to be quick at spotting what it was… (though it’s playing on a loop, so if you leave it, the animal will re-appear…) There is also a still image further below in case you missed it.

Happy (White) Christmas

I guess many of you will not be blessed with a white Christmas this year, so I thought I’d bring you a little bit of ‘virtual’ snowfall, via the video below, which I took this morning.

I’d also like to thank all of you who have followed me over the past 12 months and especially those who have provided comments, your feedback is very much appreciated.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and, hopefully, a safe and peaceful new year.

Riverside walk to Les Haudères, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

I’m an eternal optimist. So, when the forecast suggested that there might be a little sunshine today, I decided to take my camera for a walk along the River Borgne. However, as you will see from the photos below, the sky remained stubbornly grey (at least until I got back home = Sod’s Law!)

In an attempt to add some colour and maybe a bit of festive cheer into my photos, I wandered up to Les Haudères to find some Christmas decorations. I particularly liked the skiing snowman (who presumably lights up at night) together with the heart bearing teddy bear. (See pic 12).

Snowy Riverside Walk, Evolène, Valais, Switzerland

This morning I went for a stroll down through the village and along the riverside to the first footbridge and back. You cannot normally walk on the prepared cross-country ski piste which runs along the far side of the river, but it’s not yet ready for action. So I took the opportunity to go that way before it becomes off limits.

Before setting off, Jude heard the sound of some ‘unusual’ birds twittering outside. We went to investigate and discovered two Alpine Accentors having a right old beak wag on our bedroom balcony. Goodness knows what they were saying to each other. They are the most placid of birds and were not bothered at all when we both pointed cameras in their direction. I even had the time to take a short video, which I’ve added below the gallery. I hope you enjoy! 😊

Pic d’Artsinol Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Very occasionally, when I’m out walking I see the odd ‘lost’ piece of clothing, maybe a hat or a glove perhaps. But nothing could quite prepare my for the lost garment in picture 2. I’m sure there must be an intriguing story behind it, but the mind boggles!

As you will see from the gallery of photos, it was a rather a cold morning and many of the streams were completely frozen. As I approached the Pas d’Arpilles, two young guys appeared behind me and went passed in the blink of an eye. After exchanging pleasantries (in French) I caught up with them again just below the Col de la Meina. (They’d stopped to make a phone call). After another brief discussion in (my very poor) French, I heard one of them speak to the other in English. It turned out that they were British! (Both lawyers working in Geneva). You can see Sam and Alistair (my apologies if that’s Alastair) in pictures 16 and 23-25 below.

We walked together to the col, just below the Pic d’Artsinol, where we encountered another two walkers, who must have come up from the Hérémence valley. They were the only other people I saw all day. Both Sam and Alistair and I had to get back, so none of us actually went to the top and they left me having my lunch at the col, while they ran back down.

Pas de Lona Walk, Val d’Hérens, Valais, Switzerland

My last few walks have involved a drive down into the Rhone valley, so yesterday I decided to do a walk from home. But, to make this post a little more interesting (I hope), I’ve split it into 3 sections, describing each section of the walk as I go. Please let me know if you like, or indeed prefer, this type of format.

Part 1: After crossing the field to the side of our chalet, I picked up a recognised path which soon joins a wide track. This track has restricted vehicle access and ends after around 2.5kms (1.5 miles) at the small hamlet of Volovron, though there are some steep and narrow footpaths which allow you to cut off the corners.

From Volovron, the path ascends steeply into a wood where it continues to climb, though more gradually, until it exits at a cross path to a small group of chalets (and normally, in the summer, an open buvette/café) at La Vielle. This cross path is pretty much in the shade most of the day and there was a little snow and ice on the path, (pics 11 & 14), but this was safely negotiated. 😊

Part 2: Leaving La Vielle, the path is quite open, across the alpage (alpine meadow), before it turns left up to the Pas de Lona. The path becomes very steep just before the col and getting a good grip underfoot can be quite tricky. I wasn’t sure how much snow I would encounter and, before I’d turned the corner, I’d seen another walker about 300m (yds) ahead of me. I followed the recognised route, but as I crested the brow of a small hill, I saw that he had gone left and was walking up the grass and rocks, thereby avoiding much of the snow. (You can see him, in blue, towards the left of picture 20).

However, by now, I was committed to ‘my’ route, which initially involved hopping from one clear patch to another, before ultimately having to kick good foot holds into the snow to stop me sliding down the hill. It was slow, but safe, progress.

I eventually reached the col and was rewarded with a magnificent view over the Grimentz valley (pic 24). The other hiker was already there and he’s again visible in pic 22. I walked a little further across, through varying depths of snow (maybe 15cm to 40cm or 6″ to 16″) due to the drifts and was pleased to take a few pictures of the cross at the top with just my footsteps. (See pic 23). It was rather strange to see the ground completely covered in snow in one direction, but almost free of snow in another.

I had designs on walking up to the Becs de Bosson mountain hut and taking the path over the Pte de Tsevalire from there, but there was too much snow, so I took the ‘easy’ option and descended the way the other hiker had gone up.

Part 3: I stopped for lunch at Vielle, (a ham and tomato sandwich made with Jude’s wonderful sourdough bread. 😋), where I pondered my next move. I generally don’t like doing out and back routes, so, to make it into a sort of circular walk, I took the path down towards the village of Eison. I was surprised how much I had to descend before I turned left along a different path, again through the woods, to Volovron and then, from there, it was the same path back to Evolène.