The green colour of the bottom of the slopes contrasts with the uppermost grey-brown summits. The freshness of the grass accentuates the austerity of the rock which is sometimes sprinkled with snow. As for the torrent, it animates the hollow of the valley where it not rare to meet a cow coming there to drink.
This funny red bird with a red helmet and a long light coloured beak is the biggest woodpecker in the Alps. It is difficult to see because it is very solitary and distrustful. However, thanks to numerous clues that reveal its presence, it is possible to place its song and its very typical and sonorous. It taps endlessly to defend its territory and to find bark beetles or carpenter ants.
Long Tailed Tit
This Tit is easily recognizable thanks to its ball of feathers coloured white, black, brown and pink, extended by a very long tail. Not very selective, it adapts to all kinds of forest environments as long as they are dense. Although it is more common on the plain, it is also present in the mountains up to an altitude of 2 000 m in the Alps. Unlike other tits, the Long Tailed Tit nests in a spherical and flexible nest which grows little by little as the young birds develop.
The Rock Bunting is mainly a Southern mountain species. In the cold season, it migrates towards the valleys or the plains. In Spring, from the top of a bush, sings his song, agreeable but not very remarkable or loud. As long as you are discreet and attentive, it is possible to sometimes hear his little "tsip", high-pitched brief cries.
Discreetly hanging onto the cliff thanks to its long clawed feet, the Wallcreeper is on a search for insects and spiders that it’s long, narrow, curved beak enables it to extract. The unique representative of the Tichodroma family, the Wallcreeper dominates the vertical mountain wall where it finds its home and safety. Not a shy species, it is emblematic of the mountain region, the Wallcreeper sometimes moves closer to the villages in Winter.
Short Toed Snake Eagle
Spring has only just returned when you can hear cries as loud as the church bells. You have to lift your head up to admire two large birds flying together, alternating aerobatics and hovering in the sky like two silver coloured kites playing with the wind.. Their light stocky silhouette and their darker head enable you to identify the Short-toed Snake Eagle. It mainly feeds on reptiles (lizards and snakes) which it captures by the head, which it can then regurgitate in order to feed its young.
Eurasian Crag Martin
The Eurasian Crag Martin has beige hardly contrasted feathering. It is capable of real prowess in flight, a quality that is indispensable for catching the multitude of insects that it feeds on. In Spring, once it has found a rocky ridge, the Eurasian Crag Martin endlessly transports mud and pieces of vegetation with its beak. Using this unique tool it solidly fixes each element to the edifice of the rock with a clever mix of saliva and water.
An emblematic animal in the Alps, the chamois or « rock goat » has short curled horns. Like the Ibex, it is easy to observe through binoculars. The goats and esterlons (young males aged one year) like to live in big herds ; in contrast, the billy goats stay quite isolated only rejoining the females during the mating season. In the winter, the chamois need a lot of tranquility in order to conserve their reserve of fat which they need in order to survive...
« Drailles »
The « drailles » are paths formed by the passage of flocks of sheep and herds of cows.
From Gourniers car park, cross the hamlet and follow the track until la Chapelle-Saint-Marcellin. The track follows the hillside until a walkway at (Pont la Claie) then goes up to the cabin at Pré d'Antoni. Follow along to a torrent (walkway). Climb a grassy slope to reach a lower shelf and the source of the Chargès. From the source, follow « the drailles » (local word signifying ‘paths’ created by the passage of sheep) and cross a little stream running from a waterfall. The path meanders towards the mountain pass, marked with red lozenges and cairns.
- Departure : Les Gourniers, Réallon
- Towns crossed : Réallon
Between la Chapelle-Saint-Marcellin and Claie bridge, there is a danger of falling rocks, particularly during heavy rain. At that time the itinerary is not advisable. At the end of the track, that crosses the pasture, it is not very visible. Follow the cairns. Be careful when faced with pockets of snow remaining at the bottom of the mountain pass.
Information center "les Gourniers" (summer only)
Les Gourniers, 05160 Réallon
04 92 44 30 36
Maison du Parc de l'Embrunais
Place de l’Église, 05380 Châteauroux-les-Alpes
04 92 43 23 31
Information, documentation, exhibition, screenings, products and books of the Park. Accessible to people with reduced mobility. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.
Access and parking
From Savines-le-lac, just before the bridge, take the road to Réallon. Follow the signs to "Parc national des Ecrins", until Gourniers hamlet at the bottom of the valley.
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