Zugvogeltage inform about natural wonders on the coast

Common ShelduckWith the Zugvogeltage – the “Migratory days” – the Nationalpark Niedersaechsisches Wattenmeer (the National Park Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony) will inform visitors of the Coast of the Northern Sea about this unique natural spectacle this year. More than 200 events will be held for nine days from October 5th on. This was a spokesman of the National Park announced on Tuesday. The program also includes walks on the mudflats and boat tours. Twice a year, millions of migrating birds rest on the North Sea coast in the Wadden Sea. Many of the long-distance flyers aircraft breed in the Arctic and winter in Africa.

With this offer, National Park Service, wants to inform the public of the great spectacle of bird migration and explain why the Wadden Sea is international indispensable and worthy of protection. The Zugvogeltage take place in cooperation with the National Park houses and centers and many other supporters. For each and everyone there will be something interesting – whether with ornithological prior knowledge and spotting scope or completely inexperienced, but curious, big or small, with or without family. You can pick and choose individual events or you can make a whole week on the coast in East Friesland or on one of the island in the national park.

More information you will find under: www.zugvogeltage.de.

There are perfect sites for birding on almost the whole coast. Facilities include hides and observation towers. Sometimes access is a bit tricky. Please contact via the contact form if I can give further directions or even guide you!

Red Kites in North Rhine-Westphalia

Red Kite in flightThe Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a character bird of well structured landscapes with woods and forests in Central Europe. Approximately 65% ​​of the world’s population of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is found in Germany. Since the late 1970s, the population is declining. In the lowlands even a large-scale retreat is observed. In recent years, although a positive population development was found again, due to which the Red Kite was released from the Red List. However, it is discussed whether the downgrading of the red kite in a lower risk category compared to the red list of 1999 is not likely due to an altered system of criteria as to an change in the situation of the environment. This applies especially to the Red List in North Rhine-Westphalia. Future intensification of agriculture and the increasing use of wind energy (many red kites crash on wind turbines) probably will further put pressure on the population of the kite.

Foraging on agricultural land with a mosaic of meadows and fields is preferred. The nest, however, is found in small woods, in light wood stocks and the forest edges of larger forests. Red Kites are pretty faithful of their territory and use old nests often over many years. Typical is the lively, rocking flight of the Red Kite with a hanging hand and quite a deeply forked tail. He looks much bigger and heavier than a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) though he is only slightly larger with a body length of 60-70 cm. Perhaps because of the hanging wings he appears more massive. The Red Kite is also called “Gabelweihe” in german because of the forked tail.

Since about 65% of the world’s population if the Red Kite occurs in Germany, the geman state of North Rhine-Westphalia also has a special responsibility for the protection of species. The total population is estimated at 420-510 breeding pairs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Red Kite mainly breeds in the Weserbergland, the mountains along the river Weser, the Sauerland and in the Eifel. To the many Kites over the sky of the area of Blomberg – which is within the Weserbergland – the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Rotmilanfreunde Lippe” Continue reading Red Kites in North Rhine-Westphalia

Bird Island, a paradise for the Fairy Tern

Pair of Fairy TernsJust two days ago we landed after several hours of flights over Addis Ababa on Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles. Supposedly the territory of Seychelles comprises 100 well more or less large islands, which together form an area of ​​443 km ². How strewn lie the islands of the western Indian Ocean, spread over an ocean area of ​​over 400,000 km “. The climate in the Seychelles is tropical with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. The weather here is influenced by the monsoon, with a hot and humid season from November to March. The “cool” dry season lasts from May to October. We are now – at the end of October – just in the transitional phase there and hope not to be trampled in the rainy season.

For the flight to Bird Island we were picked up by a taxi from our resort in the south of Mahe and brought to the small airport of Mahe. The formalities were completed quickly. But there is still a problem with the luggage. They are allowed a maximum of 10kg per passenger. Ok, go for the luggage storage. In the waiting room we could already see our small plane on the runway. When we are finally released from the waiting room to the aircraft, we find that it is already hot and humid out there on the tarmac. But on the plane the temperature is even higher by a few degrees. Finally, we sit in the narrow leather seats, tighten the seat belt and wait for the things that are coming. Finally, the folding doors of the twin-engine aircraft is closed. Immediately, the temperature in the cabin starts to rise further. Only a minute later, the shirt is wet, thick beads of sweat forming on the forehead and run down his eyebrows. “Hopefully the plane will start soon”, which at the moment is my only wish. Through the open cabin I can see the two pilots at the start. At the front a small table fan rotates. “They will know why they put up this utensil in the cockpit”, this is what I am thinking. Much too slowly the pilots are dropping the headphones. Then the pilot turns to his passengers, friendly smiles at us and raises his thumb.

Finally, the plane takes off from the runway. You can feel the sigh of passengers formally, now just sit back and relax. We quickly leave the main island of Mahe behind us. Some uninhabited rocky islands lie off the main island, we only see the deep blue open sea before us. The two engines roar loudly and evenly in the air.

Bird Island is our goal. This tiny island is located about 100 kilometers north of Mahe and can be reached in the aircraft in 45 minutes. Bird Island is a flat coral island overgrown with palm trees. In former times the island was used for a plantation. Besides Denis Iceland is the only coral island in the Seychelles, which is inhabited. The Bird Island is famous for its many seabirds that breed here. The beautiful Fairy Tern (Gygis alba) is one of our target birds because we are traveling to this remote coral island. Moreover, migration seasons is on. Maybe we can see the one or the other migratory bird far from the migration routs along the East African coast. That we were very successful with this, I can prove with photos in the gallery very Continue reading Bird Island, a paradise for the Fairy Tern

Kuckuck, wo bist du? – Cuckoo, where are you?

Common Cuckoo in flightMigration time for the Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). Hopefully, at this moment, a  Cuckoo namend “Prinzregent” has reached tropical Africa already. For this endavour, the young Cuckoo has flown nearly 8,000 arduous kilometers. But where is he now. When he will return back in spring?

Answers to these questions are now monitored by a project of the “Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V” (Bavarian society for the protection of birds) (LBV). The LBV-action “Cuckoo, where are you?” is now online. The Internet site www.lbv.de/ cuckoo , can be used to follow live the route of “Princeregent” and 13 other cuckoos. For this purpose, the animals were fitted with satellite transmitters.

About  the resting areas and the routes of Cuckoos breeding in Germany, and about her life in Africa, little is known. Migration routes and wintering areas of the cuckoo are largely unknown. To change this the LBV will pursue a groundbreaking, international project between 2013 to 2015. Together with partner societies several cuckoos are equipped in Middle and Eastern Europe with high-tech mini-satellite transmitters. Thus, migration routes and wintering areas can be explored. 15 cuckoos for example were equipped with these devices in the Danube Valley near Regensburg in Bavaria.

This project certainly provides exciting new data on migratory behavior and biology of the cuckoo.

Why such an expensive project? The cuckoo is in Germany on the Red List, as its population has fallen in the last 20 years by Continue reading Kuckuck, wo bist du? – Cuckoo, where are you?

Hide Photography in Bulgaria in July; Images from the Dobruja

Eurasian Golden-Oriole, maleThe north-eastern countryside of Bulgaria called Dobruja or in Bulgarian Dobrudzha or in romanian Dobrogea was not famous of being one of Bulgaria´s birding hot spots for bird-lens before. But a trip to the Romanian Dobrogea in may 2012 was already very productive. Thus maybe an excursion to that thinly populated area south of the city of Silistra might be good as well.

No disappointment!

The area is a charming countryside which has to offer surprisingly good locations to shoot images of excellent birds.

Having been spent 4 days at the place aiming to photograph Golden Oriole, Ortolan Bunting, Bee-eaters, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Barred Warbler, Tawny Pipit, etc. on invitation of Iordan Hristov one of the two owners of Nature Travel has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. The other owner, Sergey Panayotov, and his friend Iordan Hristov offer Wildlife Workshops, trips with bicycles and canoes but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of their hides located in the superb gently rolling countryside of that part of Bulgaria. The center of these activities is an ancient farmhouse with an orchard meadow behind. The area in General is dry and can be – at least in that aspect – best compared to the Macin Mountains in Romania.

One of the main targets was the Golden Oriole photography. For this the tower hide was used. This brand-new photohide is in the yard of a small farmland. The tower overlooks the branches of a walnut-tree where birds often perch. Several bird species have their territories around the yard and they often perch on the highest branches for their displays in spring. When bird-lens was shooting the images you see in the gallery the breeding season was almost over. I felt, that the birds use the exposed position of this tallest tree to orientate between a open field and a forest behind and the cherry trees in the orchards of that nice village. An excellent chance to photograph Continue reading Hide Photography in Bulgaria in July; Images from the Dobruja

Copula in flight of Alpine Swift in Romania´s Carpathians

Alpine Swift During a trip from July 1st till 8th 2013 to observe birds in Romania and Bulgaria a remarkable sighting could be noted. A couple of Alpine Swift (Apus melba) was seen flying below a crag in a steep rock and copulated for several seconds. This could be seen in a beautiful gorge near the town of Zărneşti (Zarnesti), in the Piatra Craiului Nationalpark. Zarnesti is located south of Brașov (Brasov) approx.. 180km away from the capital of Romania, Bucharest.

In the Western Palearctic Alpine Swifts breed in mountains mainly in southern Europe. Like Common Swifts, they are migratory, and winter in southern Africa. As happened in that gorge the species builds its nest on cliff faces typically. Alpine Swifts build their nests in colonies in a suitable cliff hole or cave. It is well known, that Alpine Swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch but up to now, a copula in flight could not be photographed. At least Bird-lens could not find a photo on the web. Consequently Bird-lens is proud to show images of a flight copula of this remarkable species.

As is mentioned in the „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“ (Handbook of the birds of Central Europe), Volume 9 “Columbiformes – Piciformes” by Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim, the male Alpine Swift usually holds the female with the beak in the neck and with the feet in the back plumage of the quiet female partner in copulation. While the female raises its tail, the male winds down his abdomen. For the Common Swift (Apus apus), also a copula in flight is described. Bird-lens is proud to show images of a flight copula of the much scarcer species Alpine Swift. A copula in flight resembles a courtship flight. During courtship Continue reading Copula in flight of Alpine Swift in Romania´s Carpathians

European Roller Image of Tuebingen 2013 in “Der Falke 7/2013”

Eurasian RollerAn image of a blog published in May 17, 2013 on www.bird-lens.com had an excellent response. The famous birder journal Der Falke 7/2013. showed interest in the image of the European (Eurasian) Roller, Coracias garrulous, which could be seen south of Wurmlingen a suburb of Rottenburg am Neckar southwest of Tuebingen on May, 13th 2013. The Journal published the image even on the front page. The bird stayed for almost one week in a flat area of meadows and agricultural fields with the name Suelcher Field (Sülcher Feld). The bird was quite mobile but usually stayed in several dedicated locations in the Suelcher field. Often it was observed sitting on the power lines and also in a special bush where this images could be shot on May, 13th 2013.  The last observations could be made on May, 15th.  Some observers saw the bird hunting insects both from the ground and in the air and then consuming it on one of its preferred perches.

Christopher König, Stefan Stübing and Johannes Wahl show in an article „Vögel in Deutschland aktuell: Frühjahr 2013” how birds coped with the spring of 2013 which came up with a few surprises.  First the spring started very late with long winter conditions up to March. Then temperatures rose in April, within days sometimes on summer temperatures ​​before they dropped again to low temperatures. May showed a lot of rain in the second half of the month. This “roller coaster Spring” also affected the migratory birds from far distances.

Bird-lens is proud to support images for Continue reading European Roller Image of Tuebingen 2013 in “Der Falke 7/2013”

Birds of heath in Brandenburg

Northern ShrikeBrandenburg, one of the new federal states is much more influenced by continental climate than the western parts of the country like e.g. Frankfurt am Main. Moreover, this state is not very densely populated at the Polish border. A good reason to call some parts of the country a birds and birders paradise. Breeding pairs of the rare Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) live here in the East in a good number The Shrike – also called the Northern Shrike – was the main reason for a trip to the east at the end of June. Now the Great Grey Shrikes have largely reared their brood and now take care of the (almost) fledglings. A disturbance of breeding is thus excluded. The feeding phase for the young should therefore be photographed.

Especially in summer I often used go and photograph to the military training areas near Cologne, in particular at the Wahner Heide. The military training areas Reicherskreuzer Heide (Heath) and Lieberose Heide were unknown to me until then and should now be visited intensively for the first time. Actually what I was looking for were the Great Grey Shrikes and the Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus). Besides the birds which could be seen in roughly one week,  it was delighting to see the multitude of butterflies. In addition to large quantities of moths and butterflies like the Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) were tons of Calliptamus italic, a species of short-horned grasshoppers and Small Gold Grasshoppers (Euthystira brachyptera) that you can rarely see anywhere else like this.

The weather forecast was perfect and everywhere there were numerous motives. So I took advantage of every free minute in the morning to be outside. The Lieberoser Heath showed up Continue reading Birds of heath in Brandenburg