German, Austrian and Swiss Roadtrip – May/June 2017. Part one

This coming April will see the launch of #Urban Birding in Germany by the country’s largest natural history publisher, Kosmos. It is my third published book and is essentially a remix of my Tales from Concrete Jungles book replete with amazing artwork by the fantastically talented Paschalis Dougalis and the front cover Robin illustration by the venerable Lars Jonsson.

Aside from all the towns and cities featured in Tales from Concrete Jungles, #Urban Birding also contains extra pieces about several cities in Germany plus Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland. But to write about them I had to go and experience them.

My two-week road trip started in Vienna where I hooked up with birder and filmmaker, Leander Khil, who was to be my guide. We had a great time checking some of the birding spots of Vienna discovering great stuff like a singing Hoopoe – a rarity in the city. Leander also found a ginormous Aesculapian Snake which is non-venomous and thankfully, non-aggressive. It was the largest that he had ever seen in the city!

Next stop was Switzerland and namely Zurich. It was an 11 hour drive from Vienna and I had to dip into neighbouring Germany in order to circumnavigate the Alps. Zurich is a beautiful, clean city but super expensive. Two ice creams would set you back €15 and don’t get flashed for speeding like I did. The resulting ticket cost me €200!!

I was met and guided by my now good friends Mathias Ritschard, Juanita Olano Marin and for part of the first day, Paul Walser. Again, we hit upon some good birds including Mathias’ first European Bee-eaters for the city.

Then came the German leg starting with Stuttgart. I missed out on the city’s famous (introduced) Yellow-headed Parrots but managed crippling views of a Tawny Owl and Common Wall Lizard in the hand.

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