Sure signs of Spring come to Switzerland (updated)

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Max and her old partner on the next, Sunday 28 February 2010 (photo © 2010 Heidi Buergermeister)

Updated 14:00  Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The snow is still there but you have to go higher in the mountains to find it, temperatures were above 10C over the weekend in Geneva, Max the white stork was fighting with her boyfriend and now that her old partner is back in town things are heating up. Meanwhile, the moon put on a spectacular show over Lake Geneva early Monday. Call it the first hints of Spring.

Max, a banded white female stork, is the world’s longest satellite-tracked animal, now in her 12th year of tracking by the Natural History Museum and University of Fribourg. The tracking project was set up to learn about dangers for migrating birds: water towers in the south of France were one discovery, and the government moved to make them safer as a result.

Max returned from the south of Spain last week, arriving at her nest in Tuefingen on the German side of Lake Constance 21 February after a short pause at the zoo in Zurich. In Tuefingen, she promptly met up with a male, not her usual partner, who chased her from her nest. The two were seen later that night, side by side, hunting for food. He returned alone to the nest that night, which she has called home for 12 years.

No sign of Max the next day, but the male bird hung around the nest all day – and suddenly, in the evening, the two of them were spotted at the nest. The two were spotted coupling Sunday, says the museum, but the relationship was off to a stormy start before the two began to clatter their bills and preen, as white storks do when starting to mate.

Max’s old partner, who usually returns to the nest later than Max, suddenly reappeared Sunday. The two males fought and Max’s old beau,the father of her offspring, skulked away – only to come back later in fine form. It now appears that he’s chased away the interloper and he and Mac once again have a relationship and are sharing the nest. So much for Max’s faithfulness, notes the museum.

full_moon_setting_jura_010310Meanwhile, the full moon which rose spectacularly Sunday night also gave people around Lake Geneva who were going to work between 06:45 and 07:15 1 March a beautiful setting moon, shortly before sunrise, over the lake. Welcome to Spring and shorter nights, longer days!