Booted Warbler and other vagrants on Helgoland

During a trip from October 08th till 13th 2012 to experience migrating birds on Helgoland several remarkable sighting could be noted. A Booted Warbler, Hippolais caligata, was seen at the red sandstone cliff at the southern corner of Helgoland, at the so-called “Kringel” on the 9th of October 2012. On the same day a Siberian Stonechat, Saxicola maura, was seen in the area near the sports field and a Rosy Starling, Pastor (Sturnus) roseus, was seen in the Kurpark. Further remarkable sightings on that day was a Barred Warbler, Turtle Dove, a Wryneck and the Yellow-browed Warbler.
Although the Booted Warbler thrilled the many birdwatchers already, that feeling could be even increased. On the following day, a strange thrush could be observed. Short ID-discussion revealed a Turdus atrogularis, a Black-throated Thrush, a recent split from the Dark-throated Thrush, Turdus ruficollis. The bird showed only for a few moments and disappeared for more than 2 hours. In the evening – just before dusk – it was seen briefly again. The lucky few were happy but the many frustrated birders who did not see it expected that the birds will leave in the night. This due to the fact, that a calm night with low wind was forecasted. It was a happy surprise, that on the following days until – at least – the 15th of October the the thrush showed up again – albeit with long times in between suddenly appearing on the steep slope just below a place called Falm on the so-called Oberland.

Thus an excellent bird sighting for western Europe.

This happened on the tiny (only 1.7 km²) offshore island of Helgoland in the Northern Sea, roughly 50 km out of sea from the shores of Friesland.

Vagrants kept the birders busy. But there where lots of other birds, too. Of course the most common birds were Great Tits, Meadow Pipits, Thrushes. You could see them almost everywhere. But you can also see some strange behavior: Kinglets feeding on Tang or a Grey Heron flying low over the sea in the windy gusts of a eastern wind. In so far a great experience.

On the ledges of the so-called Lummenfelsen nest guillemots, kittiwake, herring gull, razorbills, fulmars and, since 1991, the gannets. During migration in spring and fall flocks of migratory birds use the island as a resting place and are ringed at the ringing station of the Helgoland Ornithological society (Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Helgoland e.V. (OAG)). They have an excellent website with the newest information about birds, recent sightings, the island and infrastructure. Helgoland is one of the best birding places in Europe and famous for the many vagrants you can see – many from far eastern distances. Up to now approx. 420 species of birds has been recorded – over the last 150 years of course.

The isolated location 50km away from coast attracts birds like a magnet. This has been realized even in the kingdom of birdwatching, in the UK, as you can see in a nice article about a October-trip in 2011 by Martin Garner, a British birdwatcher, in an article in birdingfrontiers

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery are only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com in the pictures shop.

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