Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Wagbachniederung:

Purple HeronFrankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you are coming from Frankfurt Airport and heading down to the south for e.g. Munich or Stuttgart or the Black Forest, you might consider to squeeze in a morning of birding you might have a look at the wagbachniederung. Here you can walk, enjoy some fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the best riparin woods 110 km south of Frankfurt, called The “Wagbachniederung” . This location is situated on the right bank of the Rhine at Waghaeusel southeast of Speyer between Mannheim and Karlsruhe. The Wagbachniederung was formerly a loop of the Rhine, which was separated from the main stream naturally about 8.000 years ago. This former oxbow now is a NSG, which extents to 224 hectares in size. It is composed of remnants of original reeds and scattered meadows, an abandoned gravel pit, and for the most part from sewage and sludge ponds from a former sugar factory in Waghaeusel, nearby town with a nice church. Like all such lagoons, they contain a very rich organic soup which nourishes abundant insect life. This site is particulary attractive to migrating waders.

The NSG is an important stopover for shorebirds and other migratory birds. The area is a breeding site of roughly 100 bird species. Approx. 250 bird species have been observed there – including some species which are normally rare in Germany. The spring is the best time to visit. You might observe Purple Heron, (Ardea purpurea), nowhere closer in Germany but in the Wagbachniederung. This area is also one of the strongholds for Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) in the rhine valley. In spring they can be seen in full breeding plumage at close hand. Now is also the best time to see Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) very good. Here are some images shot in mid April.

Throughout the NSG you can observe from lanes. Since a few year observation hides do exist, too. The best starting point to the area is the parking lot at the Sanctuary in Waghaeusel, which is accessed via the A5 (Exit Kronau / Waghaeusel) and Kirrlach. From the parking lot you have to cross the road to enter the territory. A good map you will find here.
Immediately west of the NSG Wagbachniederung – separated by the main road 36 and a railway line – are the Erlich lakes where you can observe water birds especially in winter. The small town of Erlich leads to the lakes via the B 36 and the road towards Oberhausen-Rheinhausen. From the road a signposted side road will lead you to the Erlich lakes. One big problem with the whole area – but with the Wagbachniederung in particular – in the summer should not be neglected. These are the mosquitoes and it is recommended that visitors use the strongest insect repellent on the market. Access to the core areas is prohibited for good reason, and the path is strictly on the lanes only. But the observation opportunities are abundant and the reed beds hold Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica), Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides) and Great Reed-Warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus).

There are other places in nearer surroundings but access is a bit tricky. Please contact via the contact form if I can give further directions or even guide you!

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