Plan d'eau de Michelbach

Alsace  >  France

At the foot of the Vosges, south of Thann, the lake of the Michelbach dam hosts a good variety of birds all year long.

Added* by Martin Grienenberger
Most recent update 12 February 2020


At the foot of the Vosges, south of Thann, the lake of Michelbach dam (located in the town of the same name) was created in the 1980s in order to capture water from Doller and Michelbach to regulate the supply of the groundwater from which the Mulhouse conurbation draws its drinking water.

Preservation of water resources and diversity of living things going hand in hand, the body of water quickly became a haven of life. Thanks to its classification as a “voluntary nature reserve”, which includes former plowing converted into meadows as well as small forest portions, colonization by avifauna is steadily increasing there, and its vocation of welcoming migratory birds is asserting itself . Bird watching is interesting all year round.

In spring, it is the nesting of Mute Swan, Eurasian Coot, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe that attracts attention. The Red-backed Shrike is found in orchards south of the water.

Summer is the good season for stopovers of waders and the passage of Common Tern. At the end of summer and in autumn, with the drop in the level of the water, mud flats appear and are favorable for many species of shorebirds (Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Snipe and rarities are always possible such as Temminck's Stint, ) and herons; Black-necked Grebe, Black Tern and Osprey are also frequent the site.

Finally, in winter, it is easy to observe Great Cormorant, Goosander, for which the Michelbach site has become the reference extra-Rhine site in Alsace. Rare birds are recorded each year during this season: Red-breasted Merganser, Velvet Scoter, divers, Greater Scaup, ... You can also search for Penduline Tit among the Reed Bunting.

A beautiful walk begins from the parking lot (indicated by a sign), and takes the two dikes; a path goes around the body of water passing through a wood and an orchard. This circuit can be done in any season, except when the water is frozen.



The village of Michelbach (not to be confused with Michelbach-le-Bas near Saint-Louis) is a few kilometers south of Thann. Signs lead to the parking lot of the large dyke. Allow around 2 hours for the tour of the large reservoir, circuit marked out by the Club Vosgien.

Note: remind that it is necessary to stay strictly on paths and trails, and that intrusion into meadows and / or fields near the described sites is to be prohibited!

Terrain and Habitat

Forest , Wetland , Plain , Lake , Mud flats , Agriculture , Grassland



Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?


Good birding season

All year round

Best time to visit

Winter , Autumn migration


Paved road , Wide path

Difficulty walking trail


Accessible by

Foot , Bicycle , Wheelchair

Birdwatching hide / platform


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