A walk in the mountains – Lake Luitel

The A Walk in the mountains series

The Lake Luitel nature reserve, situated at 1600 meters of altitude, consists of two mires, one completely closed while the other is still a small lake (the so-called Lake Luitel, which looks more like a pond in my opinion). Some ten thousand years ago, a glacier was covering the area, digging depressions in the rock. When the climate warmed up, these depression were filled with water, and conquered by vegetation. Peat mosses accumulated there, forming evergrowing rafts which tended to cover the whole water area.

The two mires appeared at the same time, but they evolved at different speeds because of their difference in depth. The “pass mire” is a bog, which means that it receives water only from precipitation. It is higher than the surrounding landscape (although it’s not obvious when you are on site) and hosts mountain pines. Lake Luitel is a fen, as it resides in a depression and also receives groundwater.

Lake Luitel
Lake Luitel

This kind of mire is quite rare so far to the south. Because it is situated next to a road leading to a major ski resort (Chamrousse), the area is threatened by the huge amount of salt used during winter.

Willow tit (Poecile montanus)
Willow tit (Poecile montanus)

I was there at around 9.30 in the morning. Fortunately, it was not so hot, thanks to the altitude. I was greeted by a flock of Coal tits (Periparus ater) and a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). As I walked on duckboards in the bog, I was suddenly surrounded by Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) feeding in the pines. There were a few fluffy younglings, and also a Willow tit (Poecile montanus). Later, as I was going around the lake, I observed several young Coal tits in the woods and reeds. They were not really afraid of me, so I managed a few nice shots. Overall, it was quite difficult to take pictures of the birds: the autofocus was a bit lost because of the numerous branches and leaves, and the birds were often too far to use manual autofocus, for I could not tell with the eye whether the pic was going to be blurred or sharp. I also spotted a Crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus), high in the pines.

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Coal tit (Periparus ater)
Coal tit (Periparus ater)

I went back to the bog, and noticed a colorful bird on top of a pine. It was a male Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus). I observed it hunting insects in the loose wood of pines, then it entered a cavity in a dead tree. I waited to see if it was to come back, and after a long time, it did! I think the bird had a nest there.

Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) in front of its nest

> Full gallery

This happened two days ago. Today I went to “Bois de la Bâtie”, a wooded area surrounding an oxbow lake, an old meander that got cut off the river. The reserve is near Grenoble, in the valley. Even though I was there at 7.30 in the morning, the sun was already ardent, and the heat was barely bearable out of the shade. Next time, I’m going to the mountain again!

One thought on “A walk in the mountains – Lake Luitel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.