Today we went for a walk with our friend Edward, like we do most Thursdays. Thursdays with Edward have pretty much become the mainstay of our daytime in Geneva for Mtoto and me. Edward moved to Geneva when he was about nine years old, because his mother got a job in Geneva. So he’s an earlier version of Mtoto in that regard. Edward is a librarian by trade and is also in some demand on the theatre circuit as a lighting guy. But on Thursdays he’s our getting to know Geneva buddy. And I mean Geneva in the canton sense, rather than the city, as we’re often to be found out in the countryside.
Edward and I share some interests, in particular photography and birds. He’s also very good with Mtoto, which helps, and on days like today he’ll happily push the Mountain Buggy along the whole of our route, which today was just under 10km. On these walks of ours the three of us are often to be seen with our cameras. Mtoto points his at anything that takes his interest. Edward and I generally point ours at birds and very occasionally, other stuff.
Today we had arranged to meet in the village of Perly in south-west Geneva, with a view to walking round to Grand Lancy. We met in Grand Lancy to get on the 42 to Lully. There was little of note on the short journey except perhaps for going through the ZIPLO industrial estate and seeing some expensive car showrooms such as for Ferrari and Maserati. We got off at Perly-Marie to be as far through the village as possible. From there, we followed the route of the bus and where it went round the bend to the right, we went straight on. Just outside the village is P+R Perly (the park and ride stop), which is one end of the 4 route, and is basically just a giant car park. But ignoring the car park and the ugly housing estate just over the border in France, the view to Saleve on the left and the Jura on the right is quite wonderful and well worth being in the presence of. Walking past some Gamay and Pinot Noir vineyards we were soon under the cover of trees and pretty much from here on we were in a birdwatching paradise. As well as the plentiful Blue and Great Tits, Robins and Blackbirds, we were treated fairly quickly to a close up of a long-tailed tit, followed by a Treecreeper. The path goes downhill, then becomes a u-bend to the right (past a small playground on the left) and then joins up with the River L’Aire.
For the next mile or so the path goes straight alongside the river, crossing over one road until getting to a remarkable wooden bridge. We saw lots of birds, mostly Mallards in the river as well as a couple of pairs of Goosanders. In the trees and all around we saw the usual melange of birds as well as some nuthatches and a hawfinch. Along the River L’Aire, some major renovation works are taking place and later on we had to abandon walking near the river because the paths are closed. But up this end the works have finished and the wooden bridge marks the start of those works. Just before we got to the bridge, we took Mtoto down to the river’s edge so that he could throw some stones. He loves throwing stones into water and since I love skimming stones on the river I have figured that I can’t ban him from doing the same. Some of the water was frozen so Mtoto shrieked with delight as his stones varied so wildly, some plopping straight into the water, some smashing through the ice and some coming to rest on top of the ice. My favourite was the stone that hit the ice, slid along the ice and eventually dropped through a hole into the water, which we hadn’t been expecting.
While down there I saw the sudden flash of blue that I have come to know is a kingfisher. It was my first of the year but was gone in a flash. Now hopeful we went up onto the big wooden bridge that also seems to be able to act as a two-way hide. Looking down the river we saw what I at first thought was a moorhen but soon realised was quite different and we now reckon was a water rail. There was a pair and they were having a good splash about in the streams. I saw the kingfisher again, flying along and then under us. I photographed one bird in midflight over the river. Excited by a flash of orange I quickly looked at my photos only to find a robin in my shots!
Now on the other side of the river we saw many more Mallards, a couple of Moorhens, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings and a Yellow Wagtail. We followed the river until we had to turn off, then wound back to Grand Lancy via Confignon, mostly walking on country roads with a bit of traffic. The final highlight of the walk was going through a petting farm where we saw pigs, goats, horses and rabbits, prompting Mtoto to claim that Rebecca Rabbit was in his hand and there she remained for the rest of the journey. At one point he said that Rebecca Rabbit wanted a leaf, so I plucked one from a tree and gave it to him/her and it was much appreciated by both, apparently.
For the Janathon followers, we walked 9.67km in 2 hours 51 minutes. Average speed 3.4km/h and top speed 8.2km/h.
the birds list will be updated here.