Basel, Switzerland: Wandering in Search of Wild Things

White Stork

This past March I found myself in Basel, Switzerland again. I think this is my sixth trip to Basel. And for once it wasn't raining.

My destination my first day was Tierpark Lange Erlen (a zoo) and the miles of wanderwegs beyond it that skirt the Wiese River and meander through the woods and fields all the way out past the Fondation Beyeler (a fantastic art museum). Out here you can find white storks, gray herons, robins, tits, kites (the bird of prey), jays, carrion crows, magpies, a couple of different kinds of woodpeckers, many kinds of duck, and if you look closely along rocks in the Wiese River, dippers. When it rains the Roman Snails (escargot) and slugs emerge and they are equally interesting. You can also walk past cows with bells on them, neat gardens and fruit trees, and forest floors covered in spring flowers. You'll also find red squirrels, the cool European kind with the big ear tufts.

To do this take the #6 Tram toward the German train station (Badischer Bahnhof). At the train station transfer to the #36 bus and get off at the Lange Erlen stop. I've done this trip in reverse as well and taken the #6 Tram to Fondation Beyeler and then wandered onto the wanderwegs and walked back to Tierpark Lange Erlen along the trail on the backs of the Wiese River.

It was nesting season for the white storks and gray herons. They nest in the zoo. They aren't part of the zoo but just happen to find it a nice place to set up a rookery. The storks were busy still doing renovations on their nests. They were also busy making new storks. Ahem.

The biggest of the stork nests. They are also located in the surrounding trees. Interestingly, there's a symbiotic relationship with European House Sparrows here. The sparrows nest the underneath part of the stork nest. 

A little nest maintenance going on.

Where new storks come from.

Also, the resident elk decided to go insane.

I have history with these elk. I once watched a carrion crow land on one and pluck some of its tawny butt hair out for nesting material. The elk looked nonplussed to say the least.

But back to the insane elk. They were running around chasing each other and head butting each other with great enthusiasm. Then they all pig piled into their water hole and much splashing and watery head butting ensued. This was followed by another round of running around like mad and head butting each other. And then another pig pile into the water hole. It was still going on when I left.

Elk making a bit of a splash.

I spent a nice morning wandering the forest, looking at flowers, and investigating bird life in and around some small ponds.

Then it was time for a long mid-day nap.

A mallard mirrored in the pond in the forest.

Tufted duck

Blue tit hawking for insects.

Wood Pigeon

The forest floor in bloom. Let me know what flowers these are if you know.

Red squirrel. I think its a boy.