Birdwatching in the Engadin (Upper Engadin)

There are so many birds to observe in the Engadin, depending on the season.

Here some birds I could observe in or near St. Moritz, by the lake or in a meadow or forest.

You can do birdwatching as well, just keep you eyes open and try being quiet in the forest.

The quality of my pictures aren’t the best, I try to replace some pictures with better ones.

What kind of birds do you like to observe in the Engadin?

On or near the lake

Great crested grebe, Haubentaucher, Podiceps cristatus:

Mallard or wild duck, Stockente, Anas platyrhynchos:

Tufted duck, Reiherente, Aythya fuligula:

Eurasian coot, Blässhuhn, Fulica atra:

Near rivers

White-throated dipper, Wasseramsel, Cinclus cinclus:

White wagtail, Bachstelze, Motacilla alba:

In the forest

Eurasian bullfinch, Gimpel, Pyrrhula pyrrhula:


Great spotted woodpecker, Buntspecht, Dendrocopos major:

European crested tit, Haubenmeise, Lophophanes cristatus:

Coal tit, Tannenmeise, Periparus ater:

Spotted nutcracker, Tannenhäher, Nucifraga caryocatactes:

Eurasian nuthatch, Kleiber, Sitta europaea:



In a meadow

Eurasian wryneck, Wendehals, Jynx torquilla:

Fieldfare, Wacholderdrossel, Turdus pilaris:

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Amazing Guarda

Guarda is one of my favourite little villages in the Under Engadin. It is very famous for its architecture and because of the book and the movies “Ursli with the bells”. Ursli (Schellenursli) is experiencing adventures with his family in Guarda and its surroundings at the time of Chalandamarz. 

Guarda is located on a terrace above the left bank of the river Inn. It consists of about 70 houses and was first mentioned in a historical document in 1160 as Warda. In 2014 were 155 people living in Guarda. Over the last ten years but already in 1850 and further on, the population was decreasing, mainly because of finding a better job.

People speak mostly Romansh (Vallader), followed by German as you can see on some of the houses.


The houses are very well preserved and maintained. Guarda was awarded in 1975 with the Wakker Price for the preservation of the architectural heritage.

This inscription is from a house built in 1705.

On most of the houses are very artistic paintings and sgraffitos


Beautiful window sill.

Most of the houses have these typical wooden doors.

 

There is a nice walking path to other villages.

Chalandamarz – driving out of the demons of winter

Chalandamarz happens every 1st of March and is a rite of spring dating back to ancient times, maybe even to Antiquity. It is practised mainly in the Upper and Lower Engadin (also in Val Müstair, Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo and Oberhalbstein). 

Chalanda is the Romansh term for “first day of the month. It stems from the Latin word calandae. Marz means March. 

On this day, in earlier times, the chairman of the community, the district secretary and the treasurer were legitimated. 

Schoolchildren walk on this day, dressed in costumes in bright, lively colours through the villages wearing their bells (boys) and flowerbaskets (girls). Sometimes, they carry whips with them and show their skills with the whips. The cracks produced by the whips are supposed to scare the spirits of winter away. 

The paper flowers for the bells and costumes are produced quite a while before Chalandamarz. They are called rösas and are  carefully made of silk paper. In some villages, there are strict rules how the paper flowers have to be made, in which colours, who has to make them and to whom they can be given. Mostly the girls create the rösas for a boy they like (their crush) and also invite him to lunch for the next day. But also the younger children craft the flowers in school or kindergarten, one flower for every year of life.

  
There are even several kind of bells: Talacs, Plumpas, Maruns, Brunzinas, Zampuogns and Rolls (Bell details). 

   
The schoolchildren walk around in the villages, around the village fountains (have a look at the famous book A bell for Ursli) and go into the houses to ring the bells to drive out the demons of winter. Sometimes, if you ask them, they sing a song and they appreciate it if you give them in return some sweets or some money for their school excursions.

  

At a certain time, they gather at a designed place (in St. Moritz: parking space Du Lac) and sing several traditional songs for the crowd, consisting of tourists but mostly parents and relatives. 

  
Here you find the text for the most famous and popular song: Song text. You can find also some explanations and pictures from earlier days (in German and Rumantsch).