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Alpine Zoo Innsbruck The Alpine Adventures Of A Tea-Loving Dave - April 11 2015

Discussion in 'Austria' started by TeaLovingDave, 26 May 2016.

  1. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    This thread will serve as a dedicated location for discussion of my trip to Innsbruck Alpenzoo in April 2015, in much the same way that I created this thread discussing Zoo Magdeburg. This will allow me to upload shorter posts and therefore provide more photographic attachments in total - the limit per post being six images. This will serve two purposes:

    1) When compared to the other collections I visited during my April 2015 trip to the continent, very few Zoochatters have visited Alpenzoo; as such I feel a more in-depth walkthrough of the collection will be of interest to many.

    2) At the present time literally *nothing* has been posted about the collection on Zoochat, barring comments in unrelated threads and a smattering of decade-old photographs; in point of fact this is the very first thread ever posted discussing the collection.

    After I have finished writing this thread, I will (again like I did for Zoo Magdeburg) cross-post the text of my review into the main trip thread, with links to the original posts so that people can see the full array of image attachments.
     
  2. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Looking forward to it.
     
  3. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed :) I have been for quite a while.
     
  4. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part I: Journey to Alpenzoo

    As our booked train from Munich Hbf to Innsbruck Hbf was scheduled to depart at 0738, we had set our alarms the previous night to wake us at 0615; this would permit us plenty of time to get dressed and ready, check the weather on Helly's tablet, catch the U-bahn from Marienplatz to the train station and buy something for our breakfast without being in risk of running late. Much as we had done the previous day prior to our trip to Stuttgart, we chose to purchase an assortment of sweet and savoury pastries from some of the bakery stands within the station; these would not only provide us with a decent breakfast but also food to snack on as we explored Alpenzoo. The train we were catching was the EC1289 from Munich to Venice; as we had booked well in advance through the London office of Deutsche Bahn, we had been able to get cheaper Europa-Spezial tickets - however, the flipside was that we were tied to the specific trains we had booked for our journey to and from Innsbruck. This meant that despite the fact that - when checking the weather report online - there had been predictions of heavy thunderstorms throughout the day, we would have to nonetheless take the chance of getting soaked in order to visit Alpenzoo whatsoever.

    As the train travelled through the south of Bavaria, we could see the foothills of the Alps approaching, growing closer with every minute; although I had caught a glimpse of the Alps on the final approach into Munich of our plane some days prior, this was the first prolonged view I had been able to get. As such, I found the journey a pleasant and enjoyable one, as the train passed through peaceful countryside, small towns and villages, with the terrain steadily becoming more and more irregular. Then, almost abruptly, a few minutes after passing through the town of Rosenheim and starting to follow the Inn River upstream, the train took us between a pair of lofty peaks rearing up on either side of the valley; we were entering the Alps themselves.

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    Initially, the peaks and hillsides visible through the windows of the train were thickly vegetated, and not much larger than many of the mountains I had seen within the United Kingdom; however, within minutes the scenery was presenting me with snow-capped peaks and sheer hillsides which surpassed anything I had ever experienced in person before. Around the same time, my mobile phone automatically received a text message notifying me that I had now entered Austria, telling me the charges for text messages and phonecalls that would apply within the country; these were, as it happened, identical to those which applied within Germany and as such the primary use of the message was as an indicator that I had now entered my second foreign country. However, due to the route the international border took within this area of the Alps, within a minute or two I received another text telling me I had entered Germany, before being once again told I had entered Austria; this happened about two or three times more within the next five minutes before the train passed deep enough into Austria to remain there!

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    By the time the train approached Innsbruck, the scenery visible through the window was stunningly-beautiful; although our visit had come late enough in the year that the weather was balmy and warm, very little of the snow and ice covering the surrounding mountains had started to shrink away - of course, we were now deep enough within the Alps that the peaks would never entirely thaw. Despite the fact we had not even disembarked from the train, never mind arrived at Alpenzoo itself, it was already clear to me that the collection would be - without a shadow of a doubt - the best I had ever experienced in terms of the surrounding scenery. The clear and sunny weather which the area seemed to be enjoying was also a great relief, considering the aforementioned weather report.

    Arriving at Innsbruck Hbf, we found ourselves in a very large and well laid-out station, with many restaurants and cafes present within the structure, along with a massive supermarket; we made a note of this fact for the evening, as we had booked a return train quite late in the evening and as such knew we would be getting something to eat for tea within the station prior to catching our train. In order to help us find the optimum route on foot from the Hauptbahnhof to Alpenzoo itself, prior to departing the United Kingdom we had printed a map from Google detailing a number of potential routes. The one we elected to take, although projected to take a shade under 40 minutes, was one which we felt reasonably confident we would be able to manage somewhat quicker than anticipated, given our level of fitness and how often we walk long distances. One of the first things we saw on leaving Innsbruck Hbf were the surrounding mountains rising thousands of metres above the city, snow-capped and sheer; it may have been my imagination, but the air felt cooler and fresher than it had been in Munich.

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    As we walked along Kaiserjägerstraße, heading towards the Inn River, the path took us past the Innsbrucker Hofgarten; designed in the English landscape style, this ornamental garden on the site of a natural river meadow was thickly planted with mature trees; had we more time, I would have rather enjoyed visiting this area of the city for its own merits. However, as we walked past the margins of the Hofgarten we could see hirundines - of a species we could not quite identify at this distance - swooping back and forth over the trees and the river flowing alongside the park, doubtless among the first to return from their wintering grounds. After around 20 minutes or so, the path took us over the Weiherburgsteg, a covered foot-bridge crossing the Inn; we stopped halfway along the bridge and stood watching the hirundines as they hawked over the river, swooping low to pluck insects from above the water surface. Patience paid off, as a few minutes after we started watching, one individual flew close enough as it fed on insects hovering over the river for us to realise just what it was; a Eurasian Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)! This was an extremely pleasing development, being a lifetick species and moreover one which I had not expected would have arrived in the Alps by early April.

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    Beyond here, the footpath took us up Heinrich-Süß-Weg, a winding track which steadily picked its way up the hillside overlooking Innsbruck; this portion of the walk to Alpenzoo had been one we had been told by other Zoochatters was steep and taxing, but to our substantial relief it was significantly easier than we had feared. Not only was the path somewhat less steep than we had been led to believe, but a gentle breeze and the shade of the woodland we were entering meant we felt pleasantly cool despite the heat of the sun; there was barely a cloud in the sky, another indication that the weather report had been somewhat inaccurate. However, as we knew that weather even in the mountainous areas of the United Kingdom could be incredibly changeable, we were aware that the forecast thunderstorms could still hit the area; as such we were determined to make the most of the day either way. After around another ten minutes or so, the footpath led out of the woodland and onto a road; just opposite, we could see the car park and entry complex for Innsbruck Alpenzoo.

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    Before making our way to the entrance, we took the opportunity to view the scenery; the city centre of Innsbruck was surprisingly far below us, whilst the peaks of Serles and Patscherkofel were visible in the distance. Above us, the Hafelekarspitze - on whose foothills Alpenzoo is positioned - rose thousands of feet, providing an impressive and somewhat-daunting sight; this peak, the smallest of the three mountains I have mentioned thus far, was nonetheless twice the height of the highest mountain I had thus far encountered, Ben Nevis in Scotland.

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    As the footpath we had taken from the city centre had passed near to one of the stations for the furnicular railway which takes visitors part-way up the Hafelekarspitze, with cable cars leading to the summit, I knew that with a little more time, and more certainty about the weather, it would have been possible for us to visit the summit. I also knew that, at this time of year, the visitor's centre at the summit was frequented by a number of unusual Alpine species such as mountain hare, snowfinch, alpine accentor and alpine chough. As such, I found myself wishing it were possible to do so!

    Casting this thought aside, we made our way towards the entrance of Alpenzoo; we had arrived at our destination!
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2016
  5. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    This is great! Keep it coming.
     
  6. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    What future zoo adventures can we except, TeaLovingDave? :p

    Maybe Iberian, or Italian?
    Balkan (although generaly poor zoos, but hot and dry climate in spring/summer)?

    Or a bit further, like Californian? Thai? East-Coast of Australia? ;)
     
  7. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd like to visit one or two of those areas, especially Australia; however my strong distaste for heat would tend to rule many of them out ;)
     
  8. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part II: Entry and Beaver/Merganser Exhibit

    After purchasing a couple of guidebooks and postcards from the shop found within the entry complex, we make our way into Alpenzoo itself. The first exhibit we encountered was not far from the entrance area, and situated at a point where the public footpath split into a higher route and a lower route. The informational signposting at the enclosure stated that it comprised a mixed exhibit for Eurasian Merganser (Mergus merganser merganser) and Elbe European Beaver (Castor fiber albicus). The exhibit was, in my opinion, rather well-designed; it covered quite a large area and included several pools on a number of levels - some of which were connected by small waterfalls - along with large logs and rocky outcrops dotted around the margins of some of the larger pools.

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    We were also rather taken by the brass statues dotted around the exhibit; one was located next to one of the viewing windows for the enclosure and depicted three beavers, whilst another was located a little further from the enclosure at the junction between the two footpaths, and comprised a large statue of an Alpine Ibex, with a plaque discussing the species located underneath. As has been noted several times in the past, I very much enjoy seeing statues and artwork depicting the taxa located at a collection when visiting continental zoos; this, sadly, seems to be somewhat rare in collections I have visited within the United Kingdom.

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    At the time we were viewing the exhibit, the European Beaver were not visible; considering the nocturnal nature of this species, this was not particularly surprising. However, the Eurasian Merganser were sunning themselves on a rocky outcropping located in the lowest of the pools found within this exhibit complex, allowing us to obtain a rather good view of the species.

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    Having consulted the map in order to decide which route to take through the collection, we made our way along the lower of the two footpaths referred to previously; as the gradient of the footpath was taking us steadily downhill, this allowed us to view a small annexe built underneath the exhibit we had just viewed from above. Within, a set of dark viewing windows looked into a set of small, straw-lined sleeping quarters, within which large shapes were huddled together; these were quite obviously the Eurasian Beaver.

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    Overall, I rather liked this mixed exhibit; it struck me as providing plenty of space for the inhabitants of the enclosure, and the provision of multiple levels within the exhibit, along with areas of rockwork and logs to allow movement outside of the water, meant that the exhibit provided more than the bare minimum where the welfare needs of the inhabitants were concerned. The quality of the signposting at the exhibit was also very high, providing plenty of information about each species, along with their range and habitat.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2016
  9. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    I am very much enjoying reading this. I visited about twenty years ago, pre internet (for me anyway) and using guidebooks for navigation. They rather overstated the climb to the zoo and we arrived at it, expecting to be at a volks-type railway to take us up to the zoo. Having said that, it rained more heavily than I can ever remember before or since and I did slip stumble on the way back down afterwards, which led to a brief sideways run to avoid going over the edge.

    The entrance building was less developed then and although it was August, ticket sales were through a small window on the left hand side of the building, behind the gray gate in your photo.

    I thought the zoo was excellent and recall seeing very active brown bears, inactive but fabulous giant otters and a good range of other European species that were out and about despite the rain.
     
  10. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Giant Otters? Do you mean Eurasian Otters or did this species somehow slip past everyone I've spoken to in the past about the historical animal inventory of the collection? :p
     
  11. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part III: European Wildcat Exhibit

    Just beyond the viewing area for the sleeping quarters of the European Beaver, the public footpath split once again; consulting the map we were able to see that the lower of the two paths led to a cul-de-sac and as such it would be most prudent to view this area first before continuing to make our way around the collection.

    The gradient of the footpath was quite steep in this area, and as such by the time we reached the next enclosure I shall discuss, we were already several metres below the level of the entrance complex. To our left, we could see a large exhibit for European Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), within which several individuals were highly active and readily visible. The front area of the enclosure, closest to the viewing windows next to the public footpath, comprised a narrow grassy platform dotted with dead trees, bushes and wooden climbing frames; beyond here, it appeared the vast majority of the exhibit as a whole was located several metres below.

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    This area - which was visible in part due to the public footpath curving around the aforementioned platform somewhat - contained several densely-packed conifers, the upper reaches of which extended above the viewing area, interspersed with tall wooden poles and climbing frames. These were connected to those within the first portion of the exhibit, allowing the inhabitants a vast range of motion throughout the entirety of the enclosure. As such, the exhibit as a whole provided a rather good representation of an Alpine hillside forest, with open ledges and clearings interspersed through the tree cover.

    Due to the range of movement and space provided, along with the thickly-vegetated lower portions of the enclosure which provided ample opportunity for the inhabitants of this exhibit to escape from the view of humans if they so desired, I felt that this exhibit was extremely good, and very well-suited to the welfare needs of the taxon displayed within. In point of fact, I think this may well have been one of the best wildcat enclosures I have had the good fortune to see, rivalled only by the complex of exhibits at Highland Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom. This, I felt, boded rather well for the collection as a whole if the quality of this one exhibit was maintained.

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    One additional point of interest located within this area was an old poster situated next to one of the viewing windows into the enclosure; this promoted the "Dirty Dozen" campaign which EAZA ran throughout 2009, intended to highlight twelve species of carnivore native to Europe which merited particular attention.

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    The species in question were as follows:

    Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus)
    European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos)
    Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra lutra)
    Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)
    European Wildcat (Felis silvestris)
    European Mink (Mustela lutreola)
    Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)
    European Wolf (Canis lupus lupus)
    Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus)
    Marbled Polecat (Vormela peregusna)
    Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
    Wolverine (Gulo gulo gulo)

    As someone with a particular interest in both native wildlife of Europe, and carnivore species in general, I found it interesting to note that at the time of my visit, I had been fortunate enough to view all but two of the species promoted by this initiative. However, I also found it a rather sombre thought to reflect that in the six years since this campaign had taken place, although many of the species highlighted had thrived in European collections the Marbled Polecat had become all-but-extinct as a captive taxon.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2016
  12. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part IV: Brown Bear Exhibit

    Just opposite the European Wildcat exhibit, we could see an extremely large enclosure signposted for European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos). The exhibit comprised a series of rocky ledges and plateaus sloping up from the viewing area, with a waterfall cutting through the centre and flowing into a deep pond at the front of the enclosure, just below the public viewing area. The land area nearest to the pond comprised a grassy shelf, dotted with scrubby bushes. The rear portion of the enclosure was surrounded by tall sandstone walls - carefully constructed to look like a sheer cliff face - which contained the entrance into the interior housing for the inhabitants, deliberately designed to resemble the mouth of a cave. Scattered throughout the exhibit, we could see numerous large boulders, logs and rocks, along with several large spruce trees; these provided plenty of opportunities for the inhabitants of the enclosure to climb around and explore. One particularly good feature of this exhibit which immediately stuck out was the fact that the landscaping and irregular terrain meant that even when active within the exhibit, the inhabitants of this enclosure had plenty of scope to hide and escape from the view of the visiting public.

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    I was very much taken by this exhibit on the whole; it seemed to provide the inhabitants with plenty of space, along with scope to escape from view if they so desired and the ability to make use of several climbing opportunities within the enclosure. Moreover, it appeared from the general appearance of the exhibit that the inhabitants were fed using a randomised scatter system; we could see food items floating in the pond at the front of the exhibit, and scattered on multiple of the ledges and boulders throughout the exhibit. This form of behavioural enrichment is particularly valuable when used in the captive husbandry of a large carnivore such as the Brown Bear. As such, I thought this exhibit was a very good enclosure for the species in question, meeting their welfare needs fully and looking rather attractive and naturalistic, giving the impression of a mountainside stream and boulder field.

    We then followed the footpath back up towards the Beaver and Merganser exhibit, in order to reach the second of the two paths we had encountered after viewing the enclosure in question; shortly after heading down this path we noticed an interior viewing area for the public to the left. According to the map, this would give us a view over the entirety of the exterior enclosure for the European Brown Bear from the top of the exhibit; as such, we decided to investigate further. Three images of Brown Bear were mounted on the wall running alongside the path leading inside; informational signage stated that each was a life-size representation of three subspecies - Syrian, European and Kodiak - with the intention of demonstrating the range of size found within the species as a whole.

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    Within the interior viewing area there were several other rather good educational displays, including a map showing the distribution of the Brown Bear throughout Austria and Europe as a whole, another discussing the distribution, diet and appearance of other bear species across the world, and a display case containing the skull of an extinct Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus) found in a nearby area of Tyrol.

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    One display which I found particularly interesting was a collection of skulls belonging to species native to Austria, comparing the teeth of each species and discussing how each taxon has adapted to fit into a particular ecological niche and feed on a specific diet. Although the artwork within these informational displays looked a little old-fashioned, I felt the quality and range of the information provided was extremely high, and rivalled displays found at significantly larger and more well-known collections.

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    However, the main attraction within this area, as already noted, was a large glass window which ran along one wall of the room from ceiling to floor, and which provided a view across much of the exterior exhibit which we had already viewed; this room was, quite obviously, constructed within the sandstone cliff face which I discussed previously. Whilst we were within this area, one of the inhabitants of the enclosure came close to the viewing window and started making use of a particularly well-designed enrichment aid; a large fibreglass ball perhaps a little less than a metre in diameter, which was attached to the ground by a long chain and pockmarked by numerous small holes. The individual we were observing started rolling the ball back and forth, periodically pressing its muzzle to the holes - one presumes that this item would be filled with dried fruit, nuts, meat and other such items on occasion.

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    Overall, then, I was very impressed by this exhibit for European Brown Bear; although nowhere near the largest I have seen for this taxon, it was certainly one of the best, an assessment based both on the quality of the exhibit itself and the accompanying educational material.
     
    Last edited: 23 Oct 2016
  13. Crowthorne

    Crowthorne Well-Known Member

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    Enjoying the review TLD, looking forward to the rest :)
     
  14. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Those size comparisons for the bears are really interesting. Having seen Syrian Brown Bears at Melbourne I would have said they were bigger than the Europeans I've seen at Helsinki, Skansen and Whipsnade.
    It's not normally what I look for from a zoo but it would be interesting to see various subspecies of brown bear in neighbouring exhibits.
    Zootierliste says Berlin's are (is?) generic, but I wonder if anyone knows their origin. The individual I saw there was very impressive.
     
  15. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    As I understand it, the biggest Syrian Brown Bears are roughly the same size as the smallest European Brown Bears, but on average they are rather smaller. The image used at Alpenzoo, however, appears to illustrate the lower size range of Syrian rather than the average.
     
  16. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Although not quite in neighbouring exhibits, Budapest Zoo has Kamchatka Brown Bears and Syrian Brown Bears in exhibits reasonably close to each other and they are noticeably different.
     
  17. BedildaSue

    BedildaSue Well-Known Member

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    I just wanted to say, reviews like these are the primary reason I stay on Zoochat, and you have some of the most in-depth! I could read these all day. Thanks for your contributions!
     
  18. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part V: Boreal Walkthrough

    Continuing along the path leading away from the Beaver and Merganser exhibit, we reached an exhibit representing a range of bird taxa native to boreal habitats. The bulk of this exhibit was contained within a walkthrough area containing free-flying birds and a number of separate aviaries; however immediately prior to the gate into the walkthrough area, we were able to observe an aviary for European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis carduelis). Although I am more familiar with the subspecies native to the British Isles, this happens to be one of my favourite members of the finch family found within Europe, and one which I have seen wild on many occasions. As such, it was interesting to see the taxon held within a captive capacity; before he passed away, my grandfather used to keep numerous species of passerine native to the United Kingdom, including European Goldfinch, and the aviary which I viewed at Alpenzoo was very much akin to the aviaries in which he kept the species. An off-display indoor house was located to the rear of the aviary; a structure, in fact, which ran along the whole length of the Boreal Exhibit as a whole. The aviary itself was thickly planted with evergreen vegetation throughout the right-hand side of the exhibit, whilst the left-hand side was somewhat more open, containing a scrubby and leafless tree; as such the inhabitants of this aviary had areas where they could perch in the open, whilst also being able to hide from view amid thick vegetation.

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    Within the walkthrough area itself, the exhibit comprised two distinct facets; along the right-hand side of the exhibit as Helly and myself walked along the footpath, there was a series of aviaries broadly speaking akin to the one containing European Goldfinch of which I have already spoken - these I will discuss in more detail anon. However, the left-hand side of the exhibit comprised a large pond stretching the entire length of the walkthrough aviary, bordered by thick vegetation which was at its densest towards the entrance and exit to the aviary, but with several trees plented throughout the length of the pool.

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    The entire area was netted over, allowing a number of species to fly freely throughout the exhibit; at the time of our visit the informational signposting provided within the exhibit indicated that these comprised European Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus caeruleus), Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) and Dabchick (Tachybaptus ruficollis). Much as had been the case with the European Goldfinch, the former of these taxa represented the continental race of a species with which I am particularly familiar, having seen it within the wild on innumerable occasions, whilst the Little Bittern is a species I have had the good fortune to view only a handful of times previously. However, I was most pleased to see the Dabchick - or Little Grebe - as this is a species which, although common in my area, I see far less frequently than I should like; as such, viewing the species in a captive capacity and having the opportunity to photograph it in close detail was something I felt very worthwhile.

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    Although the size of the walkthrough aviary as a whole was not unduly large, it was nonetheless large enough - and vegetated to a high-enough level - that it took quite some time to spot the free-flying inhabitants of the exhibit; this is something which I always rather enjoy, feeling as I do that it is far more fufilling to have patience rewarded than to find spotting captive taxa as simple as looking within an enclosure momentarily.

    The first of the enclosed aviaries within this area displayed Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea); yet again a species with which I am very familiar, and which I have viewed on many occasions both in the wild and - whilst he was alive - in my grandad's aviaries. Although similar to the aviary for Goldfinch already discussed in general dimensions and appearance, there were a few notable differences; for instance, although a portion of the exhibit contained similar thick evergreen vegetation, the majority of the aviary contained several wooden posts and tree trunks. This was, quite obviously, a design choice intended to show off the particularly striking manner in which the Eurasian Nuthatch feeds and moves around; this worked very well, as it happens, and the two of us were able to view the inhabitants of this aviary making full use of the space granted to them.

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    The next aviary contained European Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula europaea); this was a species which I was particularly pleased to see, as through some fluke of chance it had been many years since I had seen the native British race of Bullfinch, despite the fact that it is particularly common in my area. Moreover, in my opinion this species is one of the most attractive-looking of all finches, with highly-coloured and distinctive plumage in the males and a particular "feel" to the birds which I find particularly appealing.

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    Although containing some level of green vegetation, this aviary was largely filled by a rather higher number of bare shrubs and trees than had the preceding aviaries - as a result, the inhabitants of this exhibit were rather more visible than the other species I have discussed thus far had been. However, this aviary nonetheless seemed to provide plenty of space and perching opportunities for the inhabitants; moreover, as already alluded to when discussing the aviary for the European Goldfinch, the inhabitants of all the aviaries in this row were able to escape from the view of the public and enter their interior aviaries.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2016
  19. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Part VI: Boreal Walkthrough Continued

    The next aviary within this row contained a particularly-attractive species, and one which to my knowledge is displayed in no other public collection within Europe; the Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). This is perhaps one of the few native British passerines which rivals the European Goldfinch within my affections, not least because this is a species which I regularly see within my own garden, and the smallest passerine found within Europe as a whole. Moreover, the species has always seemed to me to have a fierce attitude, with the individuals within my garden regularly to be seen fighting much larger birds in order to obtain food from my birdfeeder! This aviary was perhaps the thickest-vegetated of all those within this exhibit as a whole, being filled with dense evergreen shrubs and trees from floor to ceiling; as such viewing the inhabitants of this aviary took some time and patience. I felt this aviary was extremely good in terms of meeting the needs of the taxon held within.

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    The next aviary contained another particular highlight of the zoological collection at Alpenzoo; a pair of Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla). Of those species held within the Boreal Walkthrough as a whole, this was certainly the taxon which I had viewed the least often; the last time I had set eyes on a member of this species had been a decade before, when I happened upon an individual feeding in the middle of a footpath on the outskirts of the New Forest back in the United Kingdom. This had been, as one would imagine, a fleeting glimpse and as such I had yearned to view the taxon properly ever since; the Wryneck is a particularly unusual member of the European avifauna, being an atypical member of the woodpecker family which bears little resemblance to its cousins, and as one of several species of bird to disappear as a breeding bird within the British Isles in the last few decades it is a species which is increasingly unfamiliar to general members of the public.

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    The aviary containing this taxon was quite akin to that for the European Nuthatch, comprising a large number of dead or leafless trees which provided the inhabitants with numerous perching opportunities, whilst also allowing for the natural ability of the Wryneck to blend into such environments to be displayed very well; despite the fact that the inhabitants were perched in very visible points, it took a few moments for Helly and myself to spot them.

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    The next aviary was unlabelled and - apparently - empty at the time of our visit; in general design it was very much akin to the aviaries which held Wryneck and European Nuthatch, something which rather indicated that whether it was occupied by an unlabelled species, intended for a new arrival or had contained a now-deceased species, this particular aviary was probably intended to display a species broadly-speaking similar to these two taxa. As such I would imagine this aviary may well have been designed to hold another species of woodpecker, or possibly a treecreeper.

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    The final aviary within the walkthrough exhibit contained yet another species unique to Alpenzoo within public collections in Europe, the Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata). This is a species which, although relatively common within the United Kingdom, I have never had the opportunity to view for more than a brief and snatched moment - let alone photograph. As such I was quite pleased to note that the inhabitants of this aviary were active and readily visible, allowing me to take several good photographs of this taxon. The aviary itself was very much of a kind with the preceding aviaries within this area; it was nowhere near as well-vegetated as the exhibit for Goldcrest, but nor was it quite as densely-populated with trees and wooden logs as had been the exhibits for European Nuthatch and Wryneck. In broad terms, it was most akin to the exhibit for European Goldfinch, comprising a good balance of perching opportunities, open areas and scope for the inhabitants to escape public view.

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    After heading through the exit gate for the walkthrough exhibit, we reached one final aviary which can be considered part of the Boreal exhibit; this was very much akin to the exhibit for Goldcrest, being extremely thickly-vegetated with evergreen bushes and trees from ceiling to floor, and contained Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra); one of the most distinctive-looking finch species native to Europe, it had been some years since I had last been fortunate enough to view this taxon - although I have heard them within my area on many occasions, this species is rather more secretive than other finch taxa found within the United Kingdom and tends to hide away rather more readily. As such, I felt I was rather lucky even to view the individuals within this exhibit, which were only visible for brief moments now and then as we viewed the aviary; again, an illustration of the value which can be found in patiently awaiting a sighting of a species within a captive collection.

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    Overall, I was very impressed with this area; it contained a number of attractive and seldom-displayed species in exhibits suitable for the taxa in question, and contained interesting and informative signposting discussing the range, taxonomy and diet of those species displayed within this area.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2016
  20. lowland anoa

    lowland anoa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Dec 2014
    Posts:
    703
    Location:
    Dunfermline, Scotland, UK
    Is Innsbruck entirely dedicated to native European taxa?