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mute swan cob

Lake Fuschl

Thursday 13th September 2001, Austria

coots WE TAKE the small, quiet, electric-powered ferry down the lake from Fuschl am See village to Schloss Fuschl at the lower end of the lake. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Now a hotel, its guests have included Adolf Hitler, Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher. It's a lovely place to stop for coffee and one of the tempting cakes that Austria is famous for. The rep tells us that we are at altitude so there are no calories.

mute swan The lake lies at 669m, so it would leave the highest point in our Peak District, Kinderscout, under 30 metres of water. It is reputed to be the cleanest in the Austrian lake district. Trout are abundant and sometimes huge. We don't see a great variety of water birds. There's a flock of some 30 Coot, a few Great Crested Grebes, a family of Mute Swans, the inevitable Mallards, parties of Tufted Ducks and a single Pochard.

mallardThe wagtails that we see at a lakeside meadow - an adult and three young - appear to be greyer versions of our Pied, with a large black bib and a cap set well back on the head.

Autumn Crocus are in flower in damp grassy places. The large flowers, almost the size of an egg cup, are pale lilac with three stigmas, six stamens, six petals and no visible leaves.

roe buckAs we walk back to our guesthouse after our evening meal in the village, on a track across an open meadow we see a small group of deer run to the cover of some small trees. They make scarcely a sound and we wouldn't have seen them at all except for the floodlights of the village football pitch. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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