Les birdmarks : des balises pour protéger les oiseaux en vol ‘Birdmarks’: protecting birds in flight These small luminescent markers are attached to the cables of the ski lifts (chairlifts, gondolas, drag lifts – birds fly near every kind of lift) to increase the visibility for birds and help them avoid collision. They’re especially helpful in low light or on foggy days.
What’s a Black Grouse? It’s a mountain chicken! Otherwise known as a western capercaillie, the black grouse or in French, ‘tetras lyre’, the male of this sedentary species features black plumage with blue tints and the female is reddish brown.
Why create protective zones just for them? In winter, these grouse make little igloo nests in the snow. If you ski close to their homes, they will take flight in fear. Finding their home again takes a lot of energy, and they may die, so it is imperative to respect these zones and not ski into the marked area.
Where are the protected areas? Four zones have been created in the Courchevel ski area: under the Aiguille du Fruit and Dou des Lanches ski lifts, in the forest between the Forêt chairlift and the Praz gondola, as well as near the Rochers piste in Courchevel Moriond. Whilst you are on the chairlifts, see if you can spot a black grouse; they can sometimes be spotted early in the morning or at the end of the day!
We are participating in the ‘Avifaune 3 Vallées’ project, alongside the Vanoise National Park, the National Office of Forests as well as other ski lift operators in the Three Valleys. The project monitors raptors and gallinaceous birds (eagles, bearded vultures, ptarmigans and black grouse) to follow their movements and habitat areas to create protected zones within the ski area.
How are the birds monitored? During a brief period of capture, the birds are fitted with GPS transmitters on their backs, which are recharged via mini solar panels. All ultra-light, of course!
If you’re a regular to the mountains in summertime you’ll have noted that every time we complete a re-shaping of the terrain, we sow seeds to revegetate the area. Since 2018 this has included local seeds.
Don’t throw anything on the slopes: even if the snow covers everything up, we find the remains every Spring. If no-one cleans up, in 10 or 100 years, depending on what it is made of, your rubbish will still be on the mountainside!
The organisation Mountain Riders estimates that 150 tonnes of rubbish is left on our mountains each winter. To help visitors preserve these beautiful peaks which make you so happy for a few days every year, we have installed waste sorting bins at the start and end of most ski lifts. No more excuses for not recycling, we are all protectors of the future.
Recharge or recycle your lift passes! There are small boxes for recycling in all our lift pass offices.