Category Archives: Bird Migration

Observations of migration birds, aspects of migration

Tree Pipit: back from Africa

BaumpieperA remembrance of a song, beautiful and both familiar and strange. It took a while until I got the clue. It was a Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) singing in a woodland in the heath on sunday. Singing now south of Berlin, seen 20 days ago in Cameroon. There the subspecies trivialis was still fairly common near the Ngaoundaba Ranch on the Adamawa Plateau of middle Cameroon in the beginning of April. Other migrant WP-birds were Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Great Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and many Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra).

The Tree Pipit is a small passerine bird which breeds across most of Europe. It is an nondescript species, similar to the Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis). The Tree Pipit is brown with streakings above and has black markings on a white belly and buff breast below. It can be distinguished from the slightly smaller Meadow Pipit by its heavier bill and greater contrast between its buff breast and white belly. Tree pipits more readily perch in trees in comparison Continue reading Tree Pipit: back from Africa

Observation site for spring migration on the river Oder

SchwanzmeiseAfter having presented protected nature areas in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See, a recent blog was dealing with the Oder valley in general and The National Park Lower Oder especially. The National Park protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe.

A rainy, cloudy Sunday led me to the river Oder. Having refueled with gasoline and a Breakfast from a gas station I decided going to Criewener polder south of Schwedt. Criewen is a small village only 3 km south of the industrial city of Schwedt and roughly 100km north-east of Berlin. The car I parked just in front the bridge on the western side channel of the Oder. I grabbed the tripod, spotting scope and the Canon 4.0 / 400 DO from the car. So I walked up to a bench not far from the crossing between the entry road from the village of Criewen and the dike. Here you really an impressive view over the whole polder with riparian woods and wide Continue reading Observation site for spring migration on the river Oder

Remarks to wintering Solitary Sandpipers (Tringa solitaria) in the Pantanal

EinsiedelwasserläuferDuring scientific research in the northern Pantanal between the 20th of December 2012 and the 10th of January 2013 I often observe Solitary Sandpipers along the muddy ditches on a farm. Of the two subspecies of the solitary sandpiper recognized the subspecies present probably was Tringa solitaria solitaria which usually has a more well-defined streak between the eye and the bill which are clearly visible on the images shot. On the other hand Tringa solitaria cinnamomea typically lacks these streaks, being more finely spotted and speckled instead. First I saw the Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) on the muddy fringes of small pools, where you could see them from wooden bridges crossing these waters. There were no more but 3 individuals which you could see at one time. In between 10 days the water level rose by about half a meter. After that you only saw Solitary Sandpipers on muddy pieces of grassland between leaves of grass. These patches were characterized by highly degraded grassland, where cattle used to feed on quite recently.

The Solitary Sandpipers were never numerous and obviously preferred the open muddy shores of various types of pools. In „Birds of Brazil, The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil“ von J. Gwynne, Continue reading Remarks to wintering Solitary Sandpipers (Tringa solitaria) in the Pantanal

Stejneger’s Scoter at Alicante, Valencia

Höckerschnabelente ssp. An adult male Stejneger’s Scoter (Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri) could be photographed at Pinet beach, La Marina Coast, Alicante.  This Asian White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri) is the second record for Spain and is a real MEGA .

The bird was seen at least from the 6th of December at La Marina together with Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra), Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), Northern Gannets (Sula bassana), Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Razorbills (Alca torda).

The last Stejneger´s Scoter in Europe I heard from, was detected in Norway in Fauske, Nordland, where an adult drake was observerd at Røvika in July 2016 and a individual (maybe the same?) in June near Berlevåg, Finnmark.

The Stejneger´s Scoter is a relative to the White-winged Scoter of North America (Melanitta deglandi). This species is one of three species/subspecies of the Melanitta fusca – group. Theses Scoters are found throughout the Holarctic waters. The assemblage includes Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri of Eastern Asia, White-winged Scoter Continue reading Stejneger’s Scoter at Alicante, Valencia

Bird Migration in Eilat/ Israel

SteppenadlerBirding in Israel in general is unique. But the observation of the spring migration of thousands of raptors is literally breathtaking. The Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus) is one of the first raptors, you can observe migrating. On good days, migration starts as early as before 8 am. Then the birds pass the city of Eilat between Sholmo and Mount Yoash in about 300-400 meters above sea level (asl). During the morning, migration normally moves a little to the northwest of the area between Mount Yoash and Moon Valley. However, the migration may also switch to southeast, directly over Eilat if there is bad weather in the Negev desert. The Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) forms the conclusion of migratory events in the spring around the end of May. Approx. 1 million birds of this species migrate within just two weeks through the area, in some years, the birds migrate even in the course of just one week. In early May usually the temperature drops at night below 25 degrees Celsius, which means that the Honey Buzzards do not have to wait until the air is heated by daybreak. Therefore, you can already Continue reading Bird Migration in Eilat/ Israel

Sooty falcons – killers on the islands of the Red Sea

SchieferfalkeA blast from the blue evening sky. Brown feathers in the air. The collision does take only a fracture of a second. Then the spectacle is already over and gone and a bird of prey with long, slender wings and a long tail has disappeard in the stands of low mangroves. Another migratory songbird has finished its life. A Sooty Falcon has made his job again not far from its breeding ground. These falcons start breeding in fall between August and November to make use of the bird migration in fall along the red sea coast.

The Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor) is the killer of passerine birds on the islands along the red sea coast of Egypt. When the Sooty Falcon recognizes a bird flying overhead, the Sooty falcon rapidly takes to the air, accelerating above its prey before making a low dive and seizing it in its talons. The adult birds with its mainly uniform Continue reading Sooty falcons – killers on the islands of the Red Sea

Grey-cheeked Thrush as a vagrant in the WP

GrauwangendrosselThis medium-sized thrush with its brownish-grey upperparts and tail, its pale underparts with heavier spotting on the breast, a plain grey face with some light streaks but no eye-ring would be a real mega – if identified as such in the Western Palearctic. Grey-cheeked Thrushes (Catharus minimus) are rare vagrants to the WP, with only a few records each year. All recent sightings were noticed from – sometimes – remote islands in the Atlantic as from Corvo on the Azores, St Agnes from the Isles of Scilly, Ireland, Iceland, Fair Isle or Orkney (both Scotland). Most sightings are from the fall migration with a peak at the end of October but with possibilities between end of September and the beginning of November. A record from May – as happened on the May, 26th 2015 from the County Mayo on Ireland is a real exception.

A trip to the tiny village of Gambell on the north-western tip of the big St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea yielded Grey-cheeked Thrush as the only representative of Catharus – Thrushes. Some tough birders flew in from the end of May to observe mainly the seabird migration. But during our seven-day stay on the Gambell– led by a guide from High Lonesome Tours – we could Continue reading Grey-cheeked Thrush as a vagrant in the WP

Searching for Eurasian dotterel on migration through Middle Europe

MornellregenpfeiferThe Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) is a member of the plover family which migrates from northern Europe, where it breeds, to North Africa, where it winters. In the Middle Rhine area (Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse) the Eurasian dotterel was considered to be a rare vagrant until recently. Only through systematic migration surveys, a large number of records were discovered of this species. The (re)discovery required the migration status to be set by Rhineland-Palatinate ornithologists from ‘accidentally’ to ‘regular passage’. The main migration period is during late August and early September. But observations are both from return migration as well as from the fall migration to the wintering areas. Springtime observations are significantly less often counted than the fall findings. Spring migration occurs during the period between mid-April to mid-May. The species prefers open habitats in elevated locations like hilly plateaus. Only rarely the pretty small Eurasian Dotterel be discovered by accident. The Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) shows a strong preference for grubbed stubble fields. In the Continue reading Searching for Eurasian dotterel on migration through Middle Europe

Passerine vagrants on St. Paul – Pribilof Islands

RubinkehlchenAs the plane gets closer to the barren island of St. Paul, the first impression is Brown und Olive-green. Later we see that there are not only brown and olive colors on the island. Metre-high waves of a dark blue sea are breaking against the rugged, rocky coast which is shimmering black. As we land, sunrays are breaking through the clouds. Enchantment in a wild landscape. The melancholic character of the open tundra is obvious. When we get off the plane in front of the hangar, it is very quiet at once. What a contrast to the noise in the machine. Only now and then we hear the melancholy flight song of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus) or the high trill of the local race of Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis).

Barren tundra-covered hills dominate the landscape of the Pribilof Islands. But these island also host the largest seabird colony in the Northern Hemisphere with 98 percent of the world population of Red-legged Kittiwake (Rissa brevirostris). In addition, the strongest breeding colony Continue reading Passerine vagrants on St. Paul – Pribilof Islands

Slettnes – Gambell-Seawatching: a photographers point of view

EiderenteA Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) with a yellow bill might be not the only difference what you realize, if you are seabirding on different locations. Well, Somateria mollissima v-nigrum is breeding along the arctic coasts of north-east Siberia to Alaska and shows a yellow bill unlike its relatives from the northern part of Europe. But is this the only difference when seawatching? Along island or peninsula edges seabirds are living and migrating not only in the Palearctic but also in the Nearctic. Bird-lens.com managed trips now to 2 hotspot destinations in the high arctic. One location, Slettnes is on the northern tip of Norway, on the Nordkyn peninsula. This is the best location to spot the migration out to the Barents Sea.

On contrast, Gambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island of Alaska, is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders to observe impressive bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north.

After having performed these trips, it is time to compare the chances and challenges in observation and photography of migrating pelagic Continue reading Slettnes – Gambell-Seawatching: a photographers point of view

Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska

SpiessbekassineGambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders. A short trip with only a few days with High Lonesome yielded all sorts of good birds, both Asian and North American origin.

During a 6-day trip guided by the tour operator High Lonesome a group of mainly US-birders was amazed by the impressive but regular bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north. An almost as important feature was the possibility to catch-up with maybe the best vagrants sightings of the spring 2016.

There had been some very good Asian species this spring. Far outstanding was the Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura), which was finally only identified by checking the images shot and discussing sighting and sound impressions in the group. First reviews from experts for ID-confirmations turned out to be positive.

The snipe was flushed at close distance in the so-called Far Boneyard, flew low and a very short distance on first flush and then flew farther and higher on second flush, always from dry ground, although bird flew high it circled back around, we were not able to flush it a third time the bird called once, not particularly sharp like Common/Wilson’s but also not particularly wheezy (fairly short and quiet call). The images of the bird show a coloration very Continue reading Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska

Migration of Red-footed Falcon along Alpine foothills

RotfußfalkeIn the last days of May 2015, a remarkable presence of Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) was reported from southern Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria. Red-footed Falcons are a thrilling sight – not only for Western Europe. Therefore it is advisable to prepare for a seasonal pattern of occurrence by knowing migration routes, behavior and history of vagrant sightings.

These bird breeds from Eastern Europe to Mongolia. Its journey to and from its South African wintering grounds routinely leads it across the Mediterranean. This migratory behavior make it a regular vagrancy, not least in spring when they are significantly travelling further west from Africa back into the Eastern European breeding areas.

At least this was true in 2015, where at least Switzerland, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria showed a strong presence of Red-footed Falcon But already north of the Danube it occurred only occasionally. But not only these areas in Continue reading Migration of Red-footed Falcon along Alpine foothills

Identifying Eurasian dotterel on migration

MornellregenpfeiferA bleak agricultural prairie in a low mountain range of Germany. The gaze falls on monotonous furrows. Only on the horizon forest can be discerned. The area seems to be empty of birds. Only at some distance a Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is circling in the air. Nevertheless, this kind of habitat can be of great importance ornithological-wise. After a while, you might hear a trilling call, a melancholy “pjurrr”. Now it is time to watch-out carefully. Intense screening of suitable areas with binoculars or spotting scope to spot resting Eurasian dotterel (Eudromias morinellus) usually results only with a lot of time and patience in success. Due to the excellent camouflage of the resting birds you cannot expect fast sightings. Once you have discovered a Dotterel, it is relatively easy to determine the bird. In non-breeding plumage Eurasian dotterel may – under certain circumstances – be confused with the European Golden-Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). Dotterel in breeding plumage, however, are not to be confused with any other species to be expected in Germany. The following tips should help in determining ID-characteristics of the birds.

Dotterel in breeding plumage are characterized by the bright white superciliar stripe. On chest and belly they showy a reddish-brown color. A narrow white chest band is very typical. Moulting birds in the plumage, fade all the colors, the belly is yellowish to white blotchy. At that time a chest ring is far less noticeable. Juvenile individuals or Eurasian dotterels in non-breeding plumage are to be confused Continue reading Identifying Eurasian dotterel on migration

Waterfowl Spring migration on the flooded meadows of the river Oder/ Germany

SchnatterenteAlready several sites for nature protection with excellent birding ops in Brandenburg has been presented. One of these sites is a protected nature area in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions in Germany´s sprawling capital Berlin you might be interested as a birdwatcher to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds. Berlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination and easy to reach by air or car. So the city is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion.

One of these sites is a National Park in Oder valley (Polish: Odra). The Oder is a river in Central Europe which rises in the Czech Republic and ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon of the Baltic Sea. The National Park Lower Oder protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe with its adjacent slopes, mixed deciduous forests and dry grasslands.

April demonstrated spring time with pleasant temperatures, a pleasant southern wind and usually sunshine. The first weekend provided a significant boost in migratory birds. Especially thrushes – including the first Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) were Continue reading Waterfowl Spring migration on the flooded meadows of the river Oder/ Germany

Spring migration along the Baltic Sea coast

BuchfinkSunrise over the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. Grey dots swinging in the air reveal themselves as migrating songbirds. And there were masses of grey dots. One flock after another passed the steep cliff of the island of Usedom in the morning of eastern. A fresh wind blowing from the south obviously pushed the birds from their wintering grounds up to the north. At the southern coast of the Baltic Sea the birds realized the huge area of open water and preferred to stay on an eastern direction to reach their breeding territories.

Up to that the sunny, windy Sunday morning only the very first migrating songbirds as Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) could be found quite numerous in the bushes of the island of Usedom in north-eastern Germany. But following the wind from the south, masses of Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) appeared over the canopy Continue reading Spring migration along the Baltic Sea coast

Newly discovered wintering location for Spoon-billed Sandpiper

LöffelstrandläuferSpoon-billed Sandpipers (Calidris pygmaea) are one of the big megas in birding space. This charismatic species is listed as Critically Endangered because it has already an extremely small population. Population distribution is limited for the breeding range from the Chukotsk peninsula south to Kamchatka. The bird migrates from north-eastern Russia down the western Pacific coast through Russia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China to its main wintering grounds in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

According to BirdLife International HKBWS volunteers found end of December 2015, at least 30 Spoon-billed Sandpipers near the Fucheng Estuary in south-west Guangdong Province. This was the highest number ever found in China during winter. At the end of January further coordinated counts in Guangdong Province, including members from the Zhanjiang Bird Watching Society and staff from the Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve Management Bureau took place. The numbers accounted for at least 45 individuals from four locations, with Fucheng Estuary having the highest count with 38 individuals. This is an extremely significant tally, given that the world population numbers fewer than Continue reading Newly discovered wintering location for Spoon-billed Sandpiper

The Dotterel – migration pattern in Germany in autumn 2015

MornellregenpfeiferOnly during migration you will find this cute, little bird of the high Arctic in Germany. The charismatic Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus or Eudromias morinellus) has now a loyal fan base, which explores specifically known staggering sites from mid-August for a few week. A good option is, to look for additionally for appropriatec locations in the open, hilly landscape.  Whereas in spring especially the coastal areas are preferred. In contrast in autumn Dotterel show a preference for locations far inland. To find these interesting birds, you should pay attention to some basic insights. On the one hand there is a pronounced seasonality.

From around the middle of August it is worthwhile to look for a few weeks to see this bird on its famous resting places in the open landscape. Experiences with the observations on the staggering areas in autumn 2015, however, were rather disappointing for Germany. With good 1,100 resting birds as the sum of all reported staggering days the occurrence was weaker than in previous years. Compared to the maximum during fall migration 2014 there Continue reading The Dotterel – migration pattern in Germany in autumn 2015

Caspian plover at Kuifkopvisvanger, Velddrif

WermutregenpfeiferTravelling through the western and northern cape of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) at the end of November, we visited also the West Coast National Park. We decided to stay on a charming farm at Velddrif on the banks of the Berg River in a self-catering cottage. The surroundings looked very promising.

On the last day, almost on the way up to Namaqualand we were told by the owner, that beside a pair of Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) there had been an observation of a Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) the weekend before. Caspian Plover would be a lifer for me. A good reason to pay some extra time for a search.

After passing the first salt pans, we were lucky to see the Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) swimming lonely in one of the pans. On a dam between the pans in the upper parts of the area, we noted some plovers on the dam and sandpipers on the shore of the salt pan. Clearly some Kittlitz’s Plover (Charadrius pecuarius), but there were also 2 individuals of the Chestnut-banded Plover (Charadrius pallidus) which is a good bird, too.

On the far end, there seemed to be a bigger plover as well. The first impression was: American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica). Unfortunately the whole flock departed due to Continue reading Caspian plover at Kuifkopvisvanger, Velddrif

Birding around Berlin: Rough-legged buzzards on wintering grounds

Rauhfußbussard Breeding in the tundra zone of northern Europe, As holarctic guest bird Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) are encountered in Central Europe especially in the winter months. Rough-legged buzzards leave their high northern breeding areas by the end of September / early October. In increasing numbers they migrate in the central European region especially the North German / Polish lowlands a short while late. It is a striking accumulation of north-northeastern sightings observed for this Buteo-Buzzard. For Germany most reports came from North Friesland last year. But Brandenburg counties follow on the step. They are namely Prignitz, Havelland, Dahme-Spreewald and Uckermark.

During the winter months most Rough-legged Buzzards can be observed by mid-November and then especially in December to mid-February. With nearly 3,000 observations in 2014 (through mid-December) this species is not really rare in Germany. A comparable experience you do observe with the distribution of winter Hen (or Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus).  Again, you will find Continue reading Birding around Berlin: Rough-legged buzzards on wintering grounds

Siberian Vagrants: The Yellow-browed Warbler

Gelbbrauen-LaubsängerSoft evocative calls in tall herb. Every year there is a pronounced migration of Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). But it is worth to risk a closer look. In the mixed flocks sometimes there are representatives of small Phylloscopus-Warblers. One of them, the Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), comes from the forests of the taiga between Sea of Okhotsk and Ural. This bird is oftern named Inornate Warbler, too.

The Yellow-browed Warbler is a small warbler with a fine, pointed beak and relatively short tail. In appearance this Phylloscopus-Warbler resembles a kinglet. You might misidentify him for a Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla). In comparison it is much more delicate than the common native Phylloscopus-Warbler, the Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). The Yellow-browed Warbler is eight millimeters shorter.

Especially in this year many Yellow-browed Warbler seem pursue a southwestern route across Europe. In Finland, some 1,000 Yellow-browed Warblers were observed since the beginning of September. In recent years there were usually throughout the fall Continue reading Siberian Vagrants: The Yellow-browed Warbler

Bird migration on the Sagres Peninsula/ Portugal

MornellregenpfeiferDuring the fall migration this is one of the areas most visited by ornithologists who want to enjoy the magic of bird Migration in Portugal. One of the birds encountered is the Eurasian Dotterel, among others. The Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) is a member of the plover family which migrates from northern Europe, where it breeds, to North Africa, where it winters. A nice place to look for Eurasian Dotterels is in the Algarve. Eurasian Dotterels is a regular passage migrant for many years, mainly in the Sagres Peninsula. The flat fields of Vale Santo are the main area of occurrence of this tundra bird, which likes the steppe. It can be seen there with roughly a 3 weeks delay compared to the german staggering sites every year between September and October.

The exact screening of suitable areas with binoculars or spotting scope is a must but usually results only with a lot of time and patience in success. Due to the excellent camouflage of the resting birds on a steppe habitat, birds on the ground are much more difficult to detect as migrants which fly over. Once you have discovered a Dotterel, it is relatively easy to determine the ID-characteristics and a Dotterel can hardly be confused with other species. Knowing the vocalizations is extremely Continue reading Bird migration on the Sagres Peninsula/ Portugal

Where to find Eurasian dotterel on migration in Germany

MornellregenpfeiferA Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus or Eudromias morinellus) is a cute little bird of the northern landscapes of Scandinavia. The Dotterel is a member of the plover family which migrates between the breeding grounds in northern Europe to North Africa, where it winters. In a roosting place they often behave quite familiar and usually persist even on a few meters distance. However, larger flocks are sometimes shy and fly away even in case of low interference. In spring especially coastal areas are preferred. In fall Eurasian dotterel show-up at resting areas sometimes far inland. To find these interesting birds, you should obey to some findings.

Preferred habitat is usually characterized by open, exposed areas with short vegetation. A convincing reminiscent of Scandinavian countryside. In the cultural landscape with its large-scale agricultural Continue reading Where to find Eurasian dotterel on migration in Germany

European Honey-buzzards: Fall Migration Denmark – Germany

WespenbussardIn order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Palaearctic, Bird-lens.com has made a trip in early September to the best birding area in Germany to observe migration of the European (or: Western) Honey-buzzards (Pernis apivorus).

A very interesting scientific work concerning migration strategies of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) through an Isthmus area in southern Italy gave helpful information. The authors counted in total, 1346 (19%), 4727 (65%), and 1177 (16%) Western Honey Buzzards along 3 routes. They were called the western, central, and eastern corridors. The time of day had a significant effect on the visible migration; the passage showed an evident peak in the afternoon at 1:20 – 3:19 p.m.. Along the eastern corridor, the proportion of migrants was significantly Continue reading European Honey-buzzards: Fall Migration Denmark – Germany

Red-throated Diver: Migration in May in front of Nordkyn/ Norway

SterntaucherA moment ago it had rained. Now again, you are standing in the most beautiful sunshine. Well, that one is on the lee side of the lighthouse, because the east wind whistles pretty much. In a distance on the horizon you see migratory birds flying ahead against the heavy wind towards the Barents Sea.

In the distance, migrating Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) can be discovered. They are not the only migratory birds. Other seabirds are on the trip as well. There are King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis), Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra) and Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), all can be seen on off-shore over the rough sea. Now – in early May – the passage of Red-throated Divers has reached its peak and Red-throated Divers make with the largest group of migrating birds. Again and again you can hear a strange cackle. After a while, normally you observe a Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) close to see at or above the lighthouse. But the main part of Red-throated Divers pulls over the open sea. Even from a long distance you can recognize them well due to their characteristic flight pattern. The feet Continue reading Red-throated Diver: Migration in May in front of Nordkyn/ Norway

Ringed Gull-billed Terns on the coast of the Northern Sea

LachseeschwalbeIn the only colony in North Western Europe, in Schleswig-Holstein on the Dithmarsch Elbe estuary in the Neufeld polder, Gull-billed Terns (Gelochelidon nilotica) had a good breeding success in 2014 and about 30 breeding pairs in the colony in Neufeld / Schleswig-Holstein and the one in Lower Saxony probably get roughly 40 young birds fledge. In the last two years the Gull-billed Tern had already raised each 20-30 fledged young birds. In 2014 the first young birds from the year 2012 returned to the breeding colony. This was clearly Continue reading Ringed Gull-billed Terns on the coast of the Northern Sea

A Vagrant in Brandenburg: Greenish Warblers

GrünlaubsängerAfter excellent observation chances for the Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides) – or Gruenlaubsänger in german –in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia in 2012, now even more observations in Germany are possible. Whereas the indivudual in 2012 could be seen on the 10th of June 2012 along a stream near a retirement home in the center of the town of Hilchenbach (427 asl), now the reports are from Friedersdorf in the municipality Heidesee in Dahme / Spreewald (LDS) just 50km south-east of Germany´s capital Berlin. The Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides) was found the first time on June 16, 2016 when its distinct and species-typical verses were heard. In June, all domestic warblers has arrived in Brandenburg. The first birds have ceased their songs already. Then it is exiting to hear something new from different species of Warbler. In this particular case it was interesting that the song could be heard in the early afternoon in the middle of Continue reading A Vagrant in Brandenburg: Greenish Warblers

Seabird migration from a boat in Nordkyn/ Norway

PapageitaucherIt is hard to believe, but also on the northern edge of the WP (Western Palearctic) seabirds are living and migrating. To see them, bird-lens.com managed a trip in the beginning of May to the northern tip of Norway, to the Nordkyn peninsula. This is the best location to spot the migration out to the Barents Sea. The Nordkyn is the next peninsula west of Varanger, which might be more known.

After trips to the western edge of the WP to see and photograph migrating pelagic birds, now migrating seabirds with a strictly northern circle of migration could be observed from the land but also on an off-shore boat trip with Vidar Karlstad.

I went out on his boat to the excellent migrating grounds north of Continue reading Seabird migration from a boat in Nordkyn/ Norway

Lesser Black-backed Gull in Mehamn, Finmark in early May

HeringsmöweLesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) is said to be on its northern limit in Finmark/ northern Norway. It is described as a scarce and sparse breeding bird in Finmark. First breeding records date back to the 1960s. The bird breeds in small colonies normally in western Finmark and the Porsanger Fjord. The population in Finmark has decreased greatly in recent years. This gull migrates far away by the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and arrives on its breeding grounds at Finmark in mid May. There is probably 1 subspecies involved. It is L. f. fuscus – the Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull which breeds in northern Norway, Sweden & Finland to the White Sea. An alternative might be L. f. heuglini –Heuglin’s Gull which Continue reading Lesser Black-backed Gull in Mehamn, Finmark in early May

Great Grey Shrike – a winter surprise in Lapland

RaubwuergerDuring a trip to see the first spring birds in Lapland and Finmark in northern Norway, I discovered a Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) which is called Great Grey Shrike, too. The bird was remoteless sitting in a snowstorm in a low birch wood along a road. It was still early May and the landscape was covered with a white linen of snow. Really a winter surprise in the – still almost – birdless snowy landscape of finish Lapland. Half the distance between the towns of Utsjoki and Inari in northern Suomi/ Finland right way from the Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) to the Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) I could see and photograph the bird very well near the Syysjärvi – Lakes. This was really a surprise and far beyond my expectations. The next sighting this far north was reported almost 1 week later, on the 8th of May on this latitude. A Great Grey Shrike was seen in Neiden, Finnmark/ Norway, which is almost on the same latitude Lake Syysjärvi. Honestly I did not even Continue reading Great Grey Shrike – a winter surprise in Lapland

The Woodlark – a welcome sign for spring

HeidelercheAlmost everyone probably knows the warbling of this tireless champions of the songs in the sky. It is such a welcome sign of spring,  that we all must look up in the sky involuntarily and have a look after the singer. That’s not that simple. And how many of us have seen recently larks in the last years. Besides the frequent Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) you might see Woodlarks (Lullula arborea) in Germany and – becoming more and more rare – sometimes Crested Larks (Galerida cristata), too.

To observe their behavior close-up is difficult because all larks are characterized by a modest plumage. The gray-brownish color allows the birds mainly reside on the ground while remaining almost undetected. On the ground, these songbirds are quiet. Only with the flight Continue reading The Woodlark – a welcome sign for spring

Sandhill Cranes in Bosque Del Apache NWR at Sunset

KanadakranichEvery evening a very special spectacle occurs in this beautiful Wildlife Refuge in the south of New Mexico. Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) arrive at the “crane pools” at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge each evening. Having spent the day feeding in nearby corn fields, they will overnight standing in the shallow pools of the Reserve. This presumably so that they can rest in the dark with minimal threat to be attacked by coyotes. As the sun rises the next morning, they eventually depart to the corn fields again. The pond which the Cranes prefer, is perhaps my favorite spot in the whole area of the Bosque del Apache NWR. I spend the first days in January 1999 in the Bosque Del Apache NWR after a business trip to Texas. My main targets were Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), Continue reading Sandhill Cranes in Bosque Del Apache NWR at Sunset

Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, as a vagrant for the Western Palearctic

SumpfseeschwalbeTerns in general are excellent fliers, which may, from time to time, appear as vagrants outside of their home range. Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, are no exception in that. Only some days ago, a Forster’s Tern was found on the coast of Ireland. An adult winter Forster’s Tern could be observed at Corronroo along with Common Loon (Gavia immer), 3 Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis), some Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), 2 Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), 3 adults and 1 first-winter Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) or (Larus melanocephalus) and 1 second-winter Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus). This would have been an excellent selection of birds for a continental birding day in the middle of wintertime. Other Forster’s Terns could be found in Galway on Mutton Island, at Nimmo’s Pier, at Doorus and off Newtownlynch Pier. All observations were made between mid December 2014 and beginning of January 2015.

In the Western Palaearctic the first Forster’s Tern, probably an adult specimen, was taken Continue reading Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri, as a vagrant for the Western Palearctic

Birding around Berlin: former lignite mining lakes in southern Brandenburg

SterntaucherLignite mining has a high impact on bird habitats and during the process of mining vast areas are devasted. After exploitation, the question how to deal with the moon-like landscape is often answered by filling the holes with water. Some of these waterbodies represent valuable habitat for endangered bird species as well as for other animals. Several lignite mining lakes are located in the southern part of Brandenburg.

On 15/11/14 a report in Ornitho.de – a birders alert website – from the Stossdorfer lake made curious. Visiting the lake south-east of the town of Luckau sighting of a migrating (or wintering) Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) could be made. The bird could be observed Continue reading Birding around Berlin: former lignite mining lakes in southern Brandenburg

Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

SaatgansBerlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but the capital of Germany offers surprisingly good birding. Berlin is already a top tourist destination. But it is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion, too. Many airlines use the Airport of Berlin, but it is possible to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main as well and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day.

If you have spare time between two tourist attractions and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to bird for typical European birds. One of these sites to mention is the lake of Guelper See in the west of the State of Brandenburg. The small village of Guelpe, south of the Continue reading Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

RubinkehlchenHappy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. This turned out to be already on the first – very successful – photo morning of my stay on a late autumn day on Happy Island. Wow, a real hotspot for migratory bird observation on China’s south-east coast. I got up at 5:45 am. I grabbed not only the Continue reading On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

Hobbies pull over the Nyika Plateau – Malawi

BaumfalkeThe Nyika National Park, in the north-western corner of Malawi is the largest National Park in Malawi. It spreads over 3,000 sq km. On the Nyika Plateau at an altitude of approx. 2,000 m asl and above you can find typical grassland and mountainous vegetation. Wide gently rolling grasslands alternate with valleys covered with fern. There are areas where light gray, often almost white boulders intersperse among the grass. Miombo woodland can still be found on the slopes of Continue reading Hobbies pull over the Nyika Plateau – Malawi

Birding around Berlin – Reckahner Teiche

KrickenteBerlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination. Many airlines use the Airport of Berlin, but it is possible to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main as well and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions, are fed-up with the museum in crowdy downtown Berlin, have enjoyed nightlife extensively and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds. One of these sites Continue reading Birding around Berlin – Reckahner Teiche

World Shorebirds Day

The World Shorebirds Day is anounced for September, 6th 2014.  Shorebirds Unite Us | World Shorebirds Day. The International Shorebird Counts will be held as a part of the event series of the World Shorebirds Day. We’d be thrilled if lots of birders would support this idea and would join this global event, supported by eBird.

Please help us to make it a worldwide event. More details can be found in the on the Website of the Worldshorebirdsday.

Certainly a very useful event.  And: You can participate, too. Don’t hesitate to add your dot on the event map.

What do you need to do to have your name in the hat? Here are Continue reading World Shorebirds Day

Pallid Harrier on the Schroecker Feld north of Frankfurt/ M

SteppenweiheAt least since Saturday, July 19, 2014, a plateau east of Marburg, the Schroecker Feld, is home to a male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) on. The Schroecker Feld near Marburg is roughly 100km distant from downtown Frankfurt/ Main. This Pallid Harrier male has very pale grey upperparts and is white below. In flight, the distinctive black wing tips can be seen. Young male Pallid Harrier look not so bright white, in the earliest stages, they have coloration similar to the female. This individual seemed very light, almost white, but had – as is recognizable in the photo of the flying male Pallid Harrier – some darker wash on the upper wings. Therefore the ornithologists unanimously call the bird a male in the third calendar year (autumn).

The bird stayed in the area on the following weekend. It was observed among corn fields and harvested fields in a specific area (N 8 ° 51’26 .39 “E / 50 ° 46’40 .46”) which is shown on the detailed maps as Ebsdorfergrund. The Pallid Harrier could usually be seen hovering for a short while in the evenings, sometimes until dark on / above the roost. The most of the day, however, the bird kept hidden. Continue reading Pallid Harrier on the Schroecker Feld north of Frankfurt/ M

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) on Laguna Alalay – Bolivia

Graubrust-StrandläuferEarly morning, 5:30 am. Haze over the water and I am watching through my camouflage tent here on the edge of Laguna Alalay on 2,600 m (asl). Waders are my main interest. At 4:30 am I got up already. The starry sky promised a nice day. In fact, at 5:00 am I pitched my tent in the dark. I pitched it on a site at the Laguna, which I had chosen yesterday. Great Continue reading Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) on Laguna Alalay – Bolivia

Lesser Yellowlegs near Callantsoog/ Noord Holland – NL

Kleiner GelbschenkelRight now, it is possible to see a rare Tringa-wader in a Nature reserve at the coast of Noord Holland between Den Helder and Callantsoog. An adult Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) can be observed north of Callantsoog in the newly established nature reserve “The Nollen van Abbestede”. After a report two days ago it could be observed this afternoon by parking the car along a dirt track on a in nature reserve near the sandy coast and dunes only 200m away from the first observation.

The older report came from the wetland right on the N 502, the Duinweg. The first efforts to twitch the bird the next morning were Continue reading Lesser Yellowlegs near Callantsoog/ Noord Holland – NL

Lowland birds in and around Kuehkopf

Schwarzer MilanThe nature reserve Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kühkopf-Knoblochsaue) is one of the best sites of riparian forest along the river Rhine. The reserve is the largest protected area in Hesse, with 2,369 hectares. It is located on the right bank of the upper Rhine. Towns nearby are Leeheim, Erfelden, Stockstadt and Biebesheim all roughly 60km south of Frankfurt/ Main. The NSG comprises an artificial puncture of the former Rhine floodplain. It is characterized by islands, riparian woods and meadows. Additional features are open water areas, oxbows, mud fields, reed-beds, floodplain meadows and soft wood forest (willows and poplars) and hard wood forest (including oak and elm). The area has a bird list of about 250 species. Approx. 120 species of birds breed here.

With fellow ornithologists I organized another birding walk along the banks of the Rhine at Kühkopf a few weeks ago. The goal was to see various species of water birds, the first migratory Continue reading Lowland birds in and around Kuehkopf

White-tailed Lapwing in Nature Reserve near Frankfurt / Main

WeißschwanzkiebitzThe bird with the scientific name Vanellus leucurus is a big attraction right now in Nature Reserve Mittlere Horloffaue near the small town of Hungen. On an area called „Kuhweide“ an adult White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)  could be (and still can be) observed on April 27th, 2014 just 40 km from the city center of Frankfurt / Main.

Several ornithologists had already been at the Horloffaue to observe the very rare species. This of course was a big sensation for the birders of the Rhine -Main region. When we arrived around 1:30 pm, the White-tailed Lapwing could not Continue reading White-tailed Lapwing in Nature Reserve near Frankfurt / Main

Caspian Seashore & Volga delta in May

Squacco HeronBird richness on the northern shore of the Caspian Sea is amazing. Caspian Sea is counted the largest inland body of water in the world. More than 100 rivers provide inflow to the Caspian, with the Volga River being the largest. Pristine floodplain forests, flooded grasslands to the horizon, eagles on almost every tree. A trip to the lowlands south of Astrakhan in southern Russia is not easy due to the distances and border formalities. But the only alternative is a trip to the Danube delta. To ease preparation, it was decided to participate in a guided trip in the first half of May 1998 to Volga delta. After that, the trip continued to the hill – lakes region and the feather grass steppe and the semi-desert north-west of Astrakhan.

In the Volga delta we stayed in Damtschik Continue reading Caspian Seashore & Volga delta in May

Alpine Accentor on migration on top of the Grosser Feldberg near Frankfurt / Main

AlpenbraunelleNo less than 3 Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) could be observed on April 11th, 2014 at the Grosser Feldberg just 20 km from the city center of Frankfurt / Main. After Ingo Roessler had found the species in searching for Ring Ouzel, Turdus torquatus, around the little town of Schmitten, several ornithologists had already been on the top of the mountain (approx. 800m asl) , to observe the very rare species. First, there was talk of a bird , then they were supposedly away and then there were but a total of three individuals which were staying near the radio tower at the Great Feldberg. This of course was a big sensation for the birders of the Rhine -Main region. When we arrived around 4:30 pm, the Alpine Accentor could be seen feeding in the western courtyard by the large telecommunications tower. From time to time they flew to the gutters of the radio tower and returned to the yard. Until at least 5:20 pm, 3 individuals of the Alpine Accentor could be observed in the small courtyard Continue reading Alpine Accentor on migration on top of the Grosser Feldberg near Frankfurt / Main

Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Going for Laguna de Gallocanta, this lake on 1,000 m asl in the middle of Northern Spain, seems to be good for impressive numbers of wintering birds as well as Steinadlerfor surprises. Some years ago, there has been observations of a Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). Actually, I wanted to watch and photograph Common Cranes (Grus grus) on their resting and wintering grounds. These birds breed in Germany, Fennoscandia and the Baltic States, and then take a western migration route through Europe to wintering areas. It is estimated that the total number of birds that migrate along the western route count up to 70,000 individuals. Most of them 50,000-60,000 wintering in Spain. The rest of Continue reading Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Angola Pitta in Mvuu Camp/ Malawi

Angolapitta, Pitta angolensis, unter einem Dickicht

The African Pitta (Pitta angolensis) also called Angola Pitta is certainly one of the top prizes for birdwatchers going for Africa.

Some years ago I spent 3 days at the end of the so-called Green (i.e. rainy) Season in the Liwonde National Park. I decided to stay in the Mvuu Lodge. One of the highlights of the area of the lodge and the Mvuu Camp is the irregular appearance of the enigmatic African Pitta (Pitta angolensis). It was the 18th of March and on the morning, Continue reading Angola Pitta in Mvuu Camp/ Malawi

Snowy Owl in nature reserve near Hanstholm/ North Jutland

Snowy OwlRight now, it is possible to see a rare Owl at Hanstholm at the coast of northern Jytland, Denmark. A young female Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) can be observed in the south of  Hanstholm in the first National Park of Denmark, called Hanstedreservatet. After the first days, around the 21st of December 2013  – when the owl was discovered in the habor – it dispersed in the more natural environment of the dunes nearby. Some images you see in the gallery.  The last days it could be observed by parking the car at Km 41 on the road between Hanstholm to Klitmøller along the sandy coast.

Some people think, that is rare bird probably comes from the Sibirian tundra. The Snowy Owl is a nomad, and it is roaming around in the hunt for food, but in this case, it is more likely, that this bird was ship-assisted. No wonder with the many fishing vessels nearby.

After missing the (male) Snowy Owl in Zeebrugge on the 2 days before Christmas, I could see the Snowy Owl now Continue reading Snowy Owl in nature reserve near Hanstholm/ North Jutland

Adventure: driving to the Keoladeo National Park

Sarus Crane, pair on field

It is November. A trip to Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India is scheduled. Due to delays in domestic flights I find out, that there are still three days left . Now you can spend the time in New Delhi, the capital of India, of course. According to some strange statistics the human population of New Delhi barely exceeds 250,000 people, but there are still at least several million in the Delhi area. Nature must stand back there. Nevertheless, there are practically some interesting areas within the city limits, such as Sultanpur, and in the vicinity is also Keoladeo, a national park in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which has been object of a blog on www.bird-lens.com already.. It is also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. The national park is not too far south of the city of New Delhi. Since I had already read about this bird paradise, I opted for the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary.

From Germany, the first part of the trip went to Amman, then after a stopover to New Delhi. Actually I had arranged with the hotel directly located at the park entrance – the Birder’s Inn – that I get a lift from the airport at additional costs. The Birder’s Inn is quite recommended on the Internet for a stay in the area. When I accomplished the passport control, baggage claim and the retriev of money in Indian currency at an ATM, I must go and look for a taxi to Bharatpur. The pick-up service is in fact not there. A taxi agent speaks to me. I start in a bargain and get him down to 3,500 IR – this is roughly 42,- Euro – for the one-way driving southward. Then I think to use the morning hours for some more birding nearer to the airport. That is still on the way and a good location might be Sultanpur. Ok, that for additional costs. So in total now again Continue reading Adventure: driving to the Keoladeo National Park

Hawk Owl in Gristede in Lower Saxonia

Hawk OwlAccording to reports in Ornitho.de there is a good chance that twitchers of the north of Middle Europe can observe Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula) this winter/ late fall quite close to their homegrounds in the northern parts of Germany. The location of a Hawk Owl spending already several days in that area is in Gristede (community: Wiefelstede) just 50 km south-south-west of Wilhelmshaven and not far of the Autobahn A28. The owl had been there from November 10th until at least the 14th. Till 16th the owl is disappeared from their long-lasting favored spot.

A comparable situation had been last year. At least this was true for Denmark and for the southern part of Sweden last year. In the “Danish Bird News” in 2012 they announced the first Hawk Owl for almost 7 years. A 1st winter individual has been seen at Store Hareskov, Copenhagen during 30th September to 8th October 2012.

From time to time there are wintering birds far inland. Last time, I remember very well, was in 2006, when Hawk Owls could be seen in the middle of Germany 100km south of Berlin. A blog you will find here to that situation.

To cope with Continue reading Hawk Owl in Gristede in Lower Saxonia

Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)

Taiga Bean GooseIn the Friedländer Große Wiese especially south of Mariawerth  but also north of Heinrichswalde 3,000 Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) could be seen in only about 2 hours in the early morning good of an early Novermber day. Obviously they flew up from the nature reserve “Galenbecker lake” which is right to the south. The preferred nighttime roost have probably been one of the polder at Heinrichswalde and the large flooded polder south- east of Fleethof. Fleethof itself is about 10km west of Heinrichswalde. Anyway, flocks of geese calling loud flew at 7:30 across the polder dikes to the north. Later I went to the so-called Friedlaender Große Wiese – a large meadow area. The Friedlaender Große Wiese is very accessible by paved and partly concreted driveway lanes without access restrictions. As I passed some harvested corn fields especially south of Mariawerth , I was lucky enough to see Bean Goose together with Common Cranes (Grus grus) in these fields. Since this flat area – a former alkaline fen-  is far away from densely populated areas, there is less interference by joggers or dogwalkers than in the south-western part of Germany. Insofar the geese can enjoy normally quite a calm day to feed. So the situation is quite different from that which was described in the blog “Cranes & Geese in winter.” The good numbers of geese on the harvested corn fields not so far away from the road were amazing. I went pretty much all the roads and paths along the vast meadows. I kept seeing large groups of geese, which were very inconspicuous on the seemingly empty, harvested maize fields. They can camouflage very well. Sometimes only when geese fly in, you will pay attention to the flocks of geese.

Among the observed geese were also Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)

Cranes (Grus grus) at the Guenzer lake in Vorpommern

Common Crane

Cranes at their resting places during migration are a great subject of photography. The biggest resting places of the Common Cranes in Germany can be found in Brandenburg on the Linumer fish ponds and in Mecklenburg- Vorpommern at the Guenzer lake. During migration time over 70,000 Common Cranes has been reported.

On the east side of the Guenzer lake a observation tower is erected, right next to the tree-lined chausee. This site is operated by the Crane Center in the little town of Groß Mohrdorf. Very nice observations are possible from this site or even right from the parking lot. To take account of the growing interest of nature lovers and wildlife photographers, ​​hides were set-up in the area of the meadows near the lake. The set-up times and other detailed information can be found their homepage.

The hides are wooden cabins which are larger than those which are set-up at the Lake Hornborga in southern Sweden. On behalf of Kranichschutz Deutschland (Crane Protection Germany) association some feeding areas were established. It is sown cereals to distract the cranes to feed on farmland. Therefore good numbers of cranes can be observed around this area.

The pictures in the gallery  were Continue reading Cranes (Grus grus) at the Guenzer lake in Vorpommern

Sabine’s Gull occurrence in California and Western Europe

Sabine´s Gull adultOne of the beauties in the Gull-family, Sabine’s Gulls (Xema sabini) is rarely seen in western Europe albeit on exposed seawatching spots or pelagic trips mainly in fall. Sabine’s Gull breed on coastal tundra around the shores of the Arctic Oceans. They migrate mainly at sea.
On Migration, Siberian and Alaskan birds winter off the coast of Columbia and Peru. They disburse east across the Pacific Ocean passing down the west coast of the US, where they are often seen on offshore trips. The best way to see this oceanic species is to take a boat trip out of Monterey, California, or some other Pacific Coast city. The wintering range is not fully known but obviously some birds winter off the Pacific coast of northern South America.
Canandian and Greenland birds disperse east passing along the coast of Europe to winter off the coast of Africa. After strong westerly winds they are seen on European seawatching spots – e.g. the western coast of Cornwall – usually in September and October. Only a few birds show up on coast making it a sought after pelagic in european waters.

Bird-lens.com is proud to show images of birds taken in California as well as taken in South-west England. The images in the gallery were taken in California in mid August and show adult birds as well as juveniles. The adult gulls are still showing its breeding plumages with a full-black hood. The images taken on pelagic trips off the Isles of Scilly in mid September showed adult birds only. These gulls were showing a transition plumage with breeding elements visible very well. It should be noted that Continue reading Sabine’s Gull occurrence in California and Western Europe

Resultate 2013; Results of Euro BirdWatch in Switzerland

Migrating flock of Common Wood-PigeonOn the weekend of 5/6 October 2013 BirdLife International and its national partner institutions organized the pan-european Euro BirdWatch. Migratory birds on their way south were observed in 33 European and some countries in central Asia.

In total 2,509 visitors were inspired by the natural phenomenon of bird migration in spite of bad weather.  In Switzerland, a total of 49’304 birds were counted on euro Birdwatch weekend. The biggest numbers naturally show migrants like the Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs (22,722 watching birds) or the Common Wood-Pigeon, Columba palumbus, (4,018) and the Common Coot, Fulica atra (2,431). However, rare species such as the Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, and Greater White-fronted Goose, Anser albifrons, could be observed, too. All Swiss results can be viewed on the established by the Swiss Protection of Birds SVS / BirdLife Switzerland Homepage

The International Zugvogeltag is the biggest event of this BirdLife partner in Europe. Since 1993 bird watching people and conservationists from all over Europe join in autumn for a weekend to observe and count the passing birds. This year the events was attended by 20,000 people at the Euro Birdwatch. The observers counted in total some 2 million migratory birds on their way to their winter areas.

The Swiss Protection of Birds SVS / BirdLife Switzerland and its local sections , in cantonal and national associations are involved since the beginning.

Detailed results for different Locations can be seen online via Resultate 2013.

Bird migration at the Stockert in the Eifel hills

Crested Tit, resting in sloe

A beautiful autumn day. Indian Summer, as written in the books. This time it is to go to the Eifel to hill Stockert south of Euskirchen where bird migration at day can be observed. It was still dark when I arrived. The first bird whispers were heard already . It was mainly chickadees whose calls were audible. Then it went very quick. Within minutes, the bushes were full. Of course, especially Great Tit (Parus major) and Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus ) were seen in the sloe (or Blackthorn), Prunus spinosa, and rosehip, Rosa canina, bushes. A wonderful contrast to the blue and red fruits that hung plentiful on the branches everywhere. Migration unrest obviously hit two species of tits too that are usually not associated with the open countryside but with conifers in the forests. There were some Coal Tits (Periparus ater) and Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus), which rested for a while on the branches of a sloe . Only short – about 2 minutes – then they were gone again.

When photographing it was obvious to see that migration is in full swing. Singing and other territorial habits were rare and restricted to the earliest morning. This early morning on a sunny day (but quite cold in the first hours) was a real pleasure – also from the point of ornithology. In addition Continue reading Bird migration at the Stockert in the Eifel hills

A day for birders in the Black Forest, Euro BirdWatch in South-west Germany

Scopes & BirdersThe pan-european “Euro BirdWatch” major event will perform this year for the 20th times. As in Switzerland the migratory birds on their way south are observed on this weekend of 5/6 October 2013 at the invitation of BirdLife International in 33 European and Central Asian countries. On Sunday, 6th October the “Euro BirdWatch” is organized by the Naturschutzbund (Nature Conservation) called NABU, local chapter of Waldshut-Tiengen together with the Nature Conservation Buchsertal from Switzerland with an information stand on the peak of the Wannenberg above Bergöschingen and Reutehof in the immediate vicinity of the radio transmission tower. With an altitude of roughly 630 meters above the sea (asl) excellent observations of migrating birds are possible. If the weather is right. Over the past 20 years at least there could be seen up to 28,000 migratory birds in one day.

Below the Wannenberg there is an orientation panel for bird migration with many interesting information on this topic. BirdLife International is the coordinating these events.

The objectives of this Event are to provide information on bird migration and global contexts, sensitize visitors to the responsibility in this area and generating interest as well as to enjoy watching this natural spectacle. Maybe it give a kick-off for new conservation projects thereon.

Euro BirdWatch in Switzerland

The pan-european Euro BirdWatch major event will perform this year for the 20th times. On the weekend of 5/6 October 2013 the migratory birds on their way south are observed at the invitation of BirdLife International in 33 European and Central Asian countries. The Swiss people interested in bird migration , can choose from 59 observation posts of the local sections of the Swiss bird conservation SVS / BirdLife Switzerland.
The International Zugvogeltag is the biggest event of this BirdLife partner in Europe. Since 1993 bird watching people and conservationists from all over Europe join in autumn for a weekend to observe and count the passing birds. The Swiss Protection of Birds SVS / BirdLife Switzerland and its local sections , in cantonal and national associations are involved since the beginning .

Every fall, the sky can provide a very special natural spectacle. Millions of birds are on their way south and are flying over the Switzerland partly in huge flocks. On the occasion of the euro Birdwatch on 5th and 6th of October 2013 it is particularly easy to track the migration and to seek guidance from experts. Interested people can ask questions and watch the birds with a telescope, binoculars or just with the naked eye at the 59 monitoring and information booths of local sections of the Swiss Protection of Birds SVS / BirdLife Switzerland .

The locations and details Continue reading Euro BirdWatch in Switzerland

Keoladeo National Park, a paradise also for Western Palearctic birds

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)Is it possible to combine business and birding in India? The country is large, the distance too and most business is performed in a metropolitan area – New Delhi. Although supposedly in the area of New Delhi only 250,000 people live after the Indian census of 2011, but there are at least several million in the greater Delhi area . Nature must stand back there. Nearby , however, is Keoladeo . According to wikipedia is a national park in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Keoladeo is also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary. The National Park is located about 50 km west of Agra near the town of Bharatpur and not too far south of the city of New Delhi, the capital of India. As a business trip to New Delhi allowed for a few days off for birding, I opted for the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary.

From Germany first the trip went to New Delhi. I stayed in the city, had four grueling days in business meetings with constantly running air conditioning in darkened rooms and then went on a weekend to my well-deserved relaxation destination, the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur. But before the bird’s enjoyment there are more exhausting times to cope with. Although there are only about 200 km to the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary. But they are strenuous. At least 3 hours – rather 4 hours – you are traveling on dusty, crowded highways in almost constant traffic jam. But then you’re on your final destination: in Keoladeo, India´s paradise for water birds. It is for India which for Botswana is the Okavango and the Everglades mean for America. The local population knows Keoladeo as “Ghana” . In their language the word means “forest” or “jungle”. Keoladeo was originally the private duck hunting ground of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. In the swamps many water birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia are wintering. Supposedly over Continue reading Keoladeo National Park, a paradise also for Western Palearctic birds

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!

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?

Summer observations of Greenish Warbler in Germany

Greenish WarblerAfter excellent observation chances for the Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides) – or Grünlaubsänger in german –in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia in 2012, now even more observations in Germany are possible. Whereas the indivudual in 2012 could be seen on the 10th of June 2012 along a stream near a retirement home in the center of the town of Hilchenbach (427 asl), now the reports are from Kaltenbronn / Gernsbach near Rastatt in the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg and from the north of Germany from the “Alter Botanischer Garten” in the nice city of Hamburg. There is also one individual in the gardens of Goyatz at the Schwieloch-See north of the Spreewald. All observations were first recorded for several days ago. Thus, the birds have obviously established on their locations – at least for some time. For more information about the current locations all over Germany see ornitho.de. The best site to look for this eastern breeder is probably in Hamburg (9°59’10.52″ E / 53°33’33.47″ N). It is obviously a male, but some observers assume that more than one bird may be involved in the sightings. The best place is on the lake in the “Alter Botanischer Garten”. The bird moves a bit in the area but Continue reading Summer observations of Greenish Warbler in Germany

Vagrant European Roller near Tuebingen in Germany

Eurasian RollerDuring the last week a European (Eurasian) Roller, Coracias garrulous, could be seen south of Wurmlingen a suburb of Rottenburg am Neckar southwest of Tuebingen. The bird stayed for almost one week in a flat area of meadows and agricultural fields with the name Suelcher Field (Sülcher Feld). The roller was observed the first time on Friday, May, 10th of 2013 by Stefan Hecht. 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.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 9 „Columbiformes – Piciformes“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that until the 1980s, this colorful birds still bred in some parts of Brandenburg, especially in the Lausitz and in the Letzlinger Heide near Magedburg. The last breeding bird for the western part of the country was reported from 1965 when one of the adults was shot dead near Dettingen an der Teck (near Nuertingen) which is roughly 50 km as the bird flies from the location of the recent observation. The last observation of a vagrant bird twittered via the german Club-300 was from Continue reading Vagrant European Roller near Tuebingen in Germany

Heavy influx of migrating White-winged Tern in Germany

White winged TernToday saw a remarkable influx of White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, in several parts of northern Germany. Observations were recorded from the Seeburger See (lake) near Goettingen (1 indiv.), from the Wedeler Marsch near Pinneberg (13 indiv.), from the Winsener Marsch near Winsen an der Luhe (2 indiv.), from the Sulzdorfer Wiek on the islands of Fehmarn (3 indiv.), from the Okeraue near Braunschweig (1 indiv.), from the “Langes Moor” near Cuxhaven and a maximum of 252 indiv. from Dreye (a southern suburb of Bremen in Niedersachsen.

Mid of may is generally a good time to see White-winged Terns. In the evening of May, 14th of 2007 more than 200 individuals of these terns flew over the nature reserve “Streng”. Sometimes the terns picked in front of the observation tower in short hovering flights insects from the reed bed. In the meantime other White-winged Terns flew over the meadows where they were seen in company with Gulls, Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus). Remarkably, only one Black Tern, Chlidonias niger, mixed among the many White-winged Tern.

The White-winged tern used to be a rare bird Continue reading Heavy influx of migrating White-winged Tern in Germany

Greater Spotted Eagle over Germany

Greater Spotted EagleAlready nine times, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Aquila clanga, with the beautiful name “Toenn” flew undetected across Germany. Now it was the moment for the first time that the eagle could be observed and even photographed. On 5 April the bird crossed the Swiss-German border in Waldshut-Tiengen and spent the following night in Tuttlingen on the Danube. From there it was the next day on a north facing route up to Reutlingen and then some 200 kilometers to the northeast to Erlangen. Going over Franconia his track led him on the 8th of April in direction to the Vogtland. In the Bavaria the birdwatcher Carsten Rohde became aware of a large eagle that moved further away to the northeast. Through the spotting scope he could see a transmitter on the back of the eagle. So quickly the idea came up that it must involve Toenn, especially since this eagle went on the same route last year.

After an overnight stay in the Vogtland the journey continued through Saxony. On 10 April, five days after his “entry”, he crossed the border into Poland. Last year the egle flew over the Baltic to Scandinavia, where he spent the summer months in Sweden and Norway. What is his destination in this year can be pursued under birdmap.5dvision.ee

Steller’s Eider female on Baltic Sea of Germany

Steller's Eider in snowstormToday a female Steller’s Eider, Polysticta stelleri, has been recorded north of the Holnisspitze, which is a peninsula north-east of a town in Schleswig-Holstein named Gluecksburg. After a run in the last days to the one individual of a male King Eider, Somateria spectabilis, at Kalkhorst at the shores of the Baltic Sea, this is the second mega duck in a short time, which can be seen at the shores of the Baltic Sea in Germany. The female Steller’s Eider was observed the first time by Katrin Habenicht and photographed with some nice shots (including a nice starting/ flying shot). The Eider can be seen in the northern extension of the Holnisser ferry road (Faehrstraße). The duck swims between other ducks (Eurasian Wigeon and Common Eider) present in the same area.

The Holnis peninsula, which is a nature reserve is approx. 15km distance east of Flensburg, which is connected to the rest of the world via Highway (Autobahn) 7. Holnis peninsula marks the northernmost point of the German mainland. The area extends for a distance of 6 km into a fjord – the so-called Flensburger Foerde – and is a reknown pastime area of Gluecksburg. On the peninsula there is a cliff and a salt marsh with a major nesting colony of seabirds.

This female Steller’s Eider is obviously only Continue reading Steller’s Eider female on Baltic Sea of Germany

Male King Eider on Baltic Sea of Germany

King Eider - maleDuring the last days one male King Eider, Somateria spectabilis, continues to stay at Kalkhorst at the shores of the Baltic Sea. The german sea resort is approx. 15km distance east of Travemünde, Lübeck. This male King Eider in beautiful breeding plumage is obviously only one of the few records for 2013 so far south for the Western Palearctic and has been observed from the beach of Kalkhorst.

In contrast these birds are very common in the north of the Western Palearctic. On Varanger/ Norway bird-lens.com was able to shot this nice pictures right from a floating hide in the middle of the harbor. Not King Eiders alone, but also Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and many gulls in 5 different species. A selection of the best shots you can find here in the gallery!

The Bird on the Baltic Sea could be seen yesterday from Continue reading Male King Eider on Baltic Sea of Germany

Heavy migration of Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) through the Taunus/ Germany

Song ThrushDuring a short trip with sunny weather and quite clear sky but a cold wind in the morning of March 26th through the upper Taunus near Bad Soden I experienced many migrating birds among them approx. 50 Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and more than a 100 Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs).  Remarkable in the sighting of the Chaffinches was the gender relationship which was very much in favor of the males – all in beautiful breeding plumage.

Remarkable with the Song Thrushes were the sheer numbers observed. They tried to conceal among dry grass or clods to take food. All this was complicated by the tight chokes for wind, which the thrushes also tried to avoid. Eventually, using the car as a moving hide, a smaller flock of Song Thrushes could be seen in perfect light showing their typical arrow-markings on the belly.

There are other recent sightings Continue reading Heavy migration of Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) through the Taunus/ Germany

Emergency landing for lapwings

Northern LapwingShorebirds as the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), are heavily suffering from the return of winter. The return of the winter in the past two weeks with temperatures down to minus two-digit nummbers also in the western part of Germany is devastating for waders. Due to observations of the Hessischen Gesellschaft für Ornithologie und Naturschutz (HG ON) [engl.: Hessian Society for Ornithology and Nature Conservation] in the Main-Kinzig district especially many Northern Lapwings on route from the wintering areas in Africa and southern Europe to their breeding grounds in the north were forced for ​​an emergency landing. This in search of food and to protect from snow and cold temperatures.

In this situation one can observe to the phenomenon Continue reading Emergency landing for lapwings

Migratory birds herald spring

Common Cranes flying overLast weekend, you could observe heavy traffic in the skies over Frankfurt/ Germany. Although winter is not ready to lower its grip the first returning migrants already point to the imminent end of the cold season. In recent weeks, Eurasian Skylarks  (Alauda arvensis), and Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), were seen already on their return. Particularly striking are currently the Common Cranes  (Grus grus) flying in wedge-shaped formations over western Germany.  On the 9th of march you could see at least 30 individuals over the outskirts of Kelkheim/ Main-Taunus-Kreis. The southern slopes of the Taunus are one of the pathways of the western migration corridor of these tall, slender birds before they are heading further north of the Wetterau

For the Bay of Cologne, which is 200km further north located, the long-term statistical average is between 5th and 13th of March. What this mean in terms of quantity you can see by the fact that highest count in crane observation was made by the NABU Aachen (further to the west), who observed more than 8,000 cranes in the region between that time period (5th and 13th of March in 1991).

The birds spend the winter mainly in sunny Spain or France. Their main wintering area is located in the Extremadura in western Spain. There, the cranes in the clear Mediterranean oak forests searched for the fruits of holm and cork oaks. On the way back to their breeding grounds, the cranes Germany crossed on quite a narrow corridor toward the southern shores of the Baltic sea in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
But there are even more flocks of birds expected in the coming weeks: Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla), Continue reading Migratory birds herald spring

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) at Laguna Gallocanta/ Spain

Sandhill CraneDuring the last days one Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) continues to stay at the Laguna Gallocanta in the south-western part of Aragon, Spain. This bird is obviously only the 3rd record for Spain since 2009 although there are more observations from the northern part of the Western Palearctic. The Sandhill Crane is present at least since last Sunday, February 24th 2013 but with wintering European Cranes (Grus grus) numbering 35,000 individuals now at the site and occasionally severe snowfall to find the bird in the crowd is a real challenge for the travelling twitchers, who arrived already in good numbers.  Updates and pictures from the site of the twitch you see here.

The Laguna de Gallocanta is one of the largest lakes in Spain – obviously the largest natural lake in Spain covering around 1,500 ha of open water within a total area of almost 7,000 ha. The lake is fed mainly by rainwater, giving rise to dramatic changes in water level from year to year. In wet years the lake can be vast while in dry years during the hot summers the lake dries out completely. As the lake is at an altitude of 1000 m there can be some very low temperatures in winter. The water of the lake is saline but freshwater springs allow for localized patches of reeds and reedmace.

The lake is one of the most important bird sites in Spain. Common Cranes that breed in Fennoscandia and the Baltic states take the west European migration route to their wintering grounds. lt is supposed that the total number of birds migrating along this route is now in the order of 70,000, and most of these, some 50,000-60,000, winter mainly in Spain, with smaller numbers in Portugal. Thus the lagoon is the largest wintering area of the European/ Eurasian cranes. The number of cranes showed a maximum of 35,000 in recent years. The lagoon is subject to the Ramsar Convention since 1995 and is also a National Nature Reserve.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 5 „Galliformes und Gruiformes “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim does not mention the Sandhill Crane for Middle Europe.

To cope with the growing demand Continue reading Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) at Laguna Gallocanta/ Spain

Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany

During the last days one adult Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) in non-breeding plumage, continues to stay near the town of Monheim in the state of North Rhine/ Westfalia in Germany at the river Rhine. The bird was first spotted on January, 09th 2013. The location “Faehre Hitdorf” is a place where a ferry crosses the river Rhine, roughly 30km south of the state capital, Dusseldorf. This gull is obviously only the 8th record for the Germany since 2002. Normally this vagrant is found not too far inland. Accordingly most records are from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 8/I „Charadriiformes, Stercorariidae – Laridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned 1982 only 1 record for the central part of the western palearctis from January, 13th 1968. Weather this is due to a higher observation density, due to the population growth on the eastern coast of the USA (see e.g. “Recent Changes in the Ring-Billed Gull Population and Biology in the Laurentian Great Lakes” by James P. Ludwig in “The Auk” Vol. 91, No. 3 (Jul., 1974) or due to a change in the migration pattern is not clear. Interesting is, that between 1973 (first record) and 1980 there were – in contrast – 37 recorded observations in Great Britain.

The conservation status of the Ring-billed Gull by IUCN is “Least Concern”. After having suffered heavy losses due to hunting and habitat loss, Ring-billed Gulls once again thrive across the United States and southern Canada—so numerous in some places that they are considered pests. This species was nearly wiped out by human persecution and development between 1850 and 1920. The populations fell dramatically when humans persecuted the gulls on their nesting grounds and killed them for feathers to decorate hats. By the early 1900s many breeding Continue reading Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany

Harriers on wintering grounds in Awash NP – Ethiopia

Having seen the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), a species of a graceful flying raptor already during trips in September on its migration route along the Black Sea coast near the town of Constanta south of the Danube delta at the Black Sea coast of Romania and north of Astrakhan along the Volga river in Russia I was keen to see this “near-threatened” species during a stay in Ethiopia, too. Before, I had seen Pallid Harriers already on their wintering grounds in South Africa (Kruger Park) and Tanzania (Serengeti). But literature said, that Pallid Harriers occur in Ethiopia during passage and some overwinter, albeit in small numbers. A good bet to try it in the arid environment of the Rift Valley, as Pallid Harriers main wintering grounds are open grasslands and agricultural areas in the savannah belt in Africa, south of the Sahara. But J. Terraube et al. (2011) in an examination of “Broad wintering range and intercontinental migratory divide within a core population of the near-threatened Pallid Harrier” showed that birds wintering in Ethiopia spent the winter in the most anthropized habitats, a mix of pastures and agricultural areas at the vicinity of several villages.

In that combination the perfect place to look for, was in my opinion the Awash National Park. This is because the Park’s location in a region of semi-arid grassland and its accessability only 2 hours drive from our stay near Debre Zeit. We spend a phantastic time in the park, seeing 90 species of birds in just 8 hours (from 9 to 5). In the afternoon we had our first harrier in the eastern part of the central Ilala Sala Plain. A 1st winter individual of Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), could be seen in Flight gliding gracefully over the savannah of the Ilala Sala Plain. We followed the harrier in a pick-up for a minimum of 5 minutes allowing excellent (and close) shots of the flying birds as you can see in the gallery. One and a half an hours later a male harrier could be seen very well. But again, a Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) as you see on the image of the blog. But then, after 30 minutes more, there was sitting another harrier. This time you could see a pale collar behind Continue reading Harriers on wintering grounds in Awash NP – Ethiopia

Vagrant Fox Sparrow in Estonia

During the last days one Fox Sparrow Zonotrichia or Passerella iliaca, continues to stay in the town of Haapsalu, Estonia at the Baltic Sea. The bird was first spotted on last Sunday. The location Läänemaa/ Haapsalu is roughly 100km away from the Estonian capital, Tallinn. This thrush is obviously only the 5th record for the Western Palearctic after Iceland in November 1944 and Northern Ireland June 1961 plus two records from Germany (caught at Mellum, May 1949 and Scharhörn, Hamburg 24.04.77). In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 14/III „Passeriformes, Emberizidae “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim considered these birds as ship-assisted vagrants. There is also record in Denmark from 08.01.2010.
The picture show a bird in its home range habitat in southern California. This bird belongs to the subspecies Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis (Sooty Fox Sparrow). This is the west coast (of the US) taxa in the genus Passerella. Although some of the excellent images shot of the vagrant in Estonia give the idea that the Fox Sparrow in Estonia belongs to the nominate form Passerella iliaca iliaca (the so called Red Fox Sparrow), bird-lens attaches the photo to give you some idea of appearance. More pictures you will find in the gallery.

The Fox Sparrow in Estonia belongs probably to the generally central and east coast taxa in the genus Passerella. This is the brightest colored group. The Sooty Fox Sparrow is browner and darker than the Red Fox Sparrow A nice report of the twitch you see here. Just in the middle of November another European rarity, the Dusky Thrush was also spotted in Estonia. And now, some weeks later the Fox Sparrow has shown up.
In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“,Band 14/III „Passeriformes, Emberizidae “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that this is a bird of any overgrown

Continue reading Vagrant Fox Sparrow in Estonia

Cranes on China’s Helgoland, PART II

I was happy to experience a trip to Happy Island at the end of October. A 10-day trip in 2007. So far so good concerning the character of Happy Island in comparison to the vagrant hotspot Helgoland. What Helgoland does not have are resting cranes. But on Happy Island you could see a total of 4 types very well. These were, of course, above all, our “normal” Cranes, Grus grus, then White-naped Crane, Grus vipio, Red-crowned Crane, Grus japonensis, and eventually even a single Sandhill (Canada) Crane, Grus Canadensis. For the last one this was  only the third time ever that there has been an observation on Happy Island. Also Siberian Crane, Grus leucogeranus, Hooded Crane, Grus monacha and Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo have allegedly already been proven. Happy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. Hope that this is true for the future, too. During my visit in 2007, extensive construction work was in progress to make the island more interesting for “normal” day trippers and to improve touristic infrastructure. Ditches and canals were dug to pedal with small boats. But, the ongoing construction work had some good advantages, too. The excavated material was used to provide quite a high hill of sand piling up in the middle of the island. This turned out to be an ideal vantage point to watch the migration of the mornings. Passing birds on eye-level (sometimes 10 meters) were a perfect experience. The derelict (but cheap) beach huts were demolished in the following year to my visit without temporary replacement. The future will show whether Happy Island can continue to be China´s Helgoland China – perhaps with better accommodation!

A nice selection of bird images of that trip can be seen in the gallery. In a different gallery you also find impression of the landscape of that nice Continue reading Cranes on China’s Helgoland, PART II

Bird migration and regional circulation in the Pantanal

Jabiru mycteria, Fazenda Ypiranga, Pocone, Mato Grosso / Brazil

Whereas long-distance bird migration for aquatic bird species is roughly understood there are other movements of birds between especially the lower Paraná River valley wetlands in Argentina, and the south Brazil/Pantanal wetlands which are far from clear.

Besides the fact, that the global patterns of Summer/ Winter north and south of the equator determines the arrival and departure of arctic migrants and Patagonian guests, there are two major inherent factors which drive birds moving in and out the Pantanal. The one is the regular change in flooding and dryness or even droughts. The other factor is the different food mix embedded in that pattern of seasonal flooding. Whereas most birds move in with the floods in September/ October others move in when the floods retreat using food resources e.g. on small pools left after the waters has covered the most part of the Pantanal.

A good example are the Jabirus, Jabiru mycteria, big storks, which are not present in the Pantanal during the flooding season. Obviously they move to higher grounds to sites outside the Pantanal area. Availability of food for the adult individuals to raise their young are the driving factor. The birds prefer low water levels, especially in lagoons and ponds, in order to obtain the food they can catch with their specialized beaks. Besides by watching for preys while walking they also hunt by tactile prey location, thanks to the sensible bill tip. The Jabiru feeds on various aquatic preys such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians, snakes, even young caimans and insects.  They walk slowly in shallow water, regularly stabbing and pecking at preys with the bill. One of their fish species preferred are mussum fish (Symbranchus marmoratus), which can stay dormant and encapsulated in the mud throughout the dry season. They are reactivated by the humidity of the rain and start to swim again when the water rises in the rainy season. The Jabiru is a specialist in detecting and catching the dormant fish in the muddy ground of the dried ponds.

Another example of birds using the environmental conditions during the dry season are huge  concentrations in nesting sites in the gallery forest, to take advantage of the seasonal resources available. The breeding colonies are formed by hundreds of nesting birds, such as Wood stork (Mycteria americana), egrets (Snowy Egret, Egretta thula, Great White Egret, Casmerodius albus and the Capped Heron, Pilherodius pileatus) and the Roseate Spoonbill, Ajaia ajaja. In this gallery you will find some more examples of bird moving in the Pantanal or adjacent Southern Brazil or migrate to these wetlands.

In his article in Bird Conservation International, 4, „Migration and other movements among the lower Paraná River valley Continue reading Bird migration and regional circulation in the Pantanal

Naumann´s Thrush in Estonia

During the last days one Naumann’s Thrush, Turdus naumanni, continues to stay at Kihnu, Parnumaa. This thrush is obviously one of the few records for the Western Palearctic (only the 20th record might be too pessimistic) and has been observed on the island of Kihnu in the Gulf of Riga in Estonia. The bird was found around the Kihnu lighthouse. Kihnu lighthouse situates on the most southern tip of Pitkänä. A nice report of the twitch you see in an article Finnish Birding: MEGA! Naumann´s Thrush in Estonia 19.11.2012.

On Wednesday, 21st of November, the bird was still on the above mentioned location. The thrush was not the only bird on the island. At the same day a Pine Grosbeak could be observed, too.

Naumann’s Thrush is a split from the Dusky Thrush and is a Continue reading Naumann´s Thrush in Estonia

Bird migration in late fall on Seychelles – an abstract

Escaping the cold and shorts days in Germany in late fall is a real privilege. This time the target was the Seychelles Islands. Relaxing and birdwatching is both possible on these famous island near the equator. Whereas the bigger islands as Mahé or Praslin are famous for its endemic (and rare) land birds the smaller islands are famous for huge seabird colonies where several thousands of birds breed in densely packed colonies on rocks, sandy beaches and trees. Looking mainly for western palearctic birds to complete the gallery for www.bird-lens.com the real thrill was to find migrating birds. Late fall is a perfect months as you find migrating and wintering birds side by side with the above mentioned endemics and sea birds. Birds visiting Seychelles also include a good number of Asian species which are vagrants to the western palearctic, too. Another good reason to travel to the Seychelles. But anyway, the list of all birds recorded in Seychelles is long and includes visitors from almost all over the globe. Thus one more reason to do the trip and shoulder the long flight.

During this 2-week journey at the end of October/ beginning of November it was possible to visit the bigger islands as well as small islands like Bird Island. Here we were very successful with several waders like Grey (Black-bellied) Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, Common Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula, Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, Little Stint, Calidris minuta, Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, as you see in that gallery.

Whereas these birds are regular visitors to coasts of the Western Palearctic too, the good numbers of both Mongolian (Lesser Sand) Plover, Charadrius mongolus, as well as the Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, were a most welcomed observation. The black-and-white Crab Plover, Dromas ardeola, was another Continue reading Bird migration in late fall on Seychelles – an abstract

Siberian specialities on Bird-Lens

On the eastern edge of the western palearctic are living bird families closely related to the species you find on a regular basis in the western palearctic too. Sometimes these birds cross or touch the borders of the western palearctic only. Sometimes they occur during an influx as vagrants touching down often to islands of the western palearctic. Like the Nearctic species these birds are put on the wall especially in fall. Thus for the keen birdwatcher of western palearctic birds these species are highly though-after mega birds. To see birds like Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Tarsiger cyanurus, Siberian Stonechat, Saxicola maurus, Grey-backed Thrush, Turdus hortulorum, Naumann’s Thrush, Turdus naumanni naumanni, Dusky Thrush, Turdus naumanni eunomus, Black-throated Thrush, Turdus ruficollis atrogularis, Red-throated Thrush, Turdus ruficollis ruficollis and Scaly Thrush, Zoothera dauma, it is advisable to go for locations on the eastern flyways like e.g. Happy Island on China´s yellow sea coast.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer birds of the western palearctic from science & public customers Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures shot mainly in China. Are you interested?

A first impression you will find in the gallery here. An update of the image stock in the “Pictures Shop” is already uploaded. There you will find more than 220 pictures of various bird species often in different plumages. Just give me a message, if Bird-lens could serve you with additional requests.
Other successful shootings you can see under: http://www.bird-lens.com/photos-2/

Influx of Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula) this winter?

According to discussion in EuroTwitch there is a good chance that twitchers of the north of Middle Europe can observe Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula) this winter/ late fall on their homegrounds. This should be not only true for Denmark but also at least for the northern part of Germany for this autumn/winter as there are very good numbers in Finland (incl. south and west coast) with, for example, 164 observations reported within last 7 days (some undoubtedly concern same individuals but gives an indication of the abundance) from the whole of Finland. At first sight, it seems that similar numbers are being reported from Sweden and last weekend two birds were observed in the extreme south (Scania). In the “Danish Bird News” they announced the first Hawk Owl for almost 7 years already. A 1st winter individual has been seen at Store Hareskov, Copenhagen during 30th September to 8th October.

From time to time there are wintering birds far inland. Last time, I remember very well, was in 2006, when Hawk Owls could be seen in the middle of Germany 100km south of Berlin. The picture shows a vagrant bird at the former lignite opencast mine Dubrau at the Spreewald near Vetschau/ Brandenburg/ Germany on march 22nd 2006.

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 remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. This nice image is 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.

Cranes on Happy Island, Chinas´s Helgoland, Part I

China’s Helgoland? Is there such a thing? Well, it depends on what you consider to be the specific characteristic of the “Shijiu Tuo Island” or “Bodhi Island” (in English simply “Happy Island”) mentioned island.

Shijiu Tuo Island or simple Happy Island, about 3 hours drive from the seaside resort of Beidaihe located on the Yellow Sea to the east, is at first appearance rather like one of the Northern Sea islands as Texel, Norderney or even Wangerooge. This applies both to the topography as well as the distance from the mainland. Happy Island is not an off-shore island. Therefore it only takes a small boat to bring passengers to the island – in about the same time what it takes to ship from Harlinger Siel to Wangerooge.

Beidaihe is located east of Beijing – about 300 km from the international airport.

The resort has been in the international media at the beginning of August 2012, as this year the Chinese leadership resided in this seaside town to a multi-week retreat to prepare for the upcoming change in power. Previously, the communist party retreats were held regularly in the summer in the nice place. Large parts of the state bureaucracy were carted in the hot months to Beidaihe with its convenient seaside climate. Security is of course very strict at that time but in October / November – the best time for bird migration observation – the resort is very quiet and not crowded. Perfect conditions to go for the beach or in the park adjacent to the Lotus Hills – the Lian Feng Mountain Park – to look after local and migrating birds. So far so good. But now more to Happy Island.

Happy Island at the widest point is only 1.5 kilometers wide and 3.5 kilometers long. Albeit this island offers an impressive diversity of habitats – as does Helgoland. There are grasslands, sandy beaches, small ponds, dense coastal scrub, sand dunes, shrimp ponds and – in the middle a collection of trees that could be almost called a small wood. The wood is picturesquely located right around a Buddhist temple.

The surrounding sea impresses the observer with wide mud flats at low tide. This is an excellent food area for migratory and native birds – such as our North Sea islands. Here waders as Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus), Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis), Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina) can be seen. Rarities are Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) and finally Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis). One of the highlights is Nordmann’s Greenshank (Tringa guttifer), who is the almost annually observed. Unfortunately I draw a blank on that bird as I missed the Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), who is also a scarce passing migrant. A special feature is the observation opportunities for the otherwise very rare Saunders’s Gull (Larus saundersi) and Relict Gull (Larus relictus). Both could be photographed beautifully. So far, the impressive number of 408 species has been proven for the island, of which only 29 are valid as breeding species and 379 as migratory.

The Fall – from September to mid-November – is a very favorable season for bird watching Continue reading Cranes on Happy Island, Chinas´s Helgoland, Part I

Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skuas) in Romania: a nice surprise

September is fall migration time in Romania´s Black Sea coast. Thus it is prime birdwatching time. After having seen the spectacular mass migration of Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, in an area south of the Danube Delta with its wide stretch of a sandy shoreline with shallow lagoons we arrived at the sandy beach near the little town of Vadu. A surprise was, what you see on the pictures: a slender, elegant fast flying birds with an obvious contrast in the feathers was flying close to the beach. Short after another individual appeared. Just after 2 minutes both left the immediate stretch of sandy coast to fly over the open waters of the Black Sea. Immediately we were sure, that we saw a Jaeger, a species of the Stercorarius – group. But only the examination of the images revealed: Both Skuas were indeed Arctic Skuas (alias Parasitic Jaegers in America, Stercorarius parasiticus in latin).

Here you can see more of the Jaegers in flight. Photographed in the nice countryside of Romania near the city of Constanta.

On the Avibase – Bird Checklists of the World for Romania the Parasitic Jaeger is listed without detailed comment for Romania. The Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) is regarded as a relative common species on the Romanian Black Sea coast  but only during the migration. This due to local ornithologists. But this species  is a rare vagrant for inland Romania. There is one record for Bucharest area – a few years ago. A pattern which is shown in Middle Europe, too. Some days before a Romanian birdwatcher observed a couple (maybe the same individuals we saw) just 10km to the north. Obviously Parasitic Jaeger migrate on different migration Continue reading Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skuas) in Romania: a nice surprise

Fall migration at the Black Sea Coast/ Romania

Spectacular numbers of Pallid Harrier, Circus macrourus, and Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, were the highlight of the first day. Having spent 3 days in May north of Constanta at Romania´s Black Sea coast, it was decided to try our luck with birds again in the area around the village of Vadu. The target was, to increase the birdlist and to look what differences in the bird diversity we could experience. South of the Danube Delta is wide stretch of a sandy shoreline with shallow lagoons. This is part of Romania´s Black Sea coast. September– like May – is migration time. Whereas the association of the east Romanian countryside is normally with the core Danube Delta with its special birds like Pelicans, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills, the stretch of coast just south of the Danube Delta up to the northern city limits of Constanta is an excellent birding spot not only for migrating birds, too. Two dedicated bird photographers went for the countryside area near of Vadu at the sandy coast in the 3rd week of September 2012. The area called Dobrudja with its steppe habitat more to the west was neglected this time. All breeding specialities should have gone already.

The trip date was perfect, allowing us to see good variety of species, many of them in considerable numbers, especially raptors. We also saw waders, gulls, herons, pelicans and passerines.

The Bird Diversity we enjoyed was high; exactly 90 species of birds we found in only 2,5 days. Highlights of the tour you will find in the gallery. Among others we made photos of Black-necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, Dalmatian Pelican, Pelecanus crispus, Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea, Common Shelduck, Tadorna tadorna, Black Kite, Milvus migrans, Western Marsh-Harrier, Circus aeruginosus, Pallid Harrier, Circus macrourus, Montagu’s Harrier, Circus pygargus, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo, Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, Common Quail, Coturnix coturnix, Syrian Woodpecker, Dendrocopos syriacus, Red-backed Shrike, Lanius collurio, Sedge Warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, many Willow Warblers, Phylloscopus trochilus, Common Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita, lots of Blackcaps, Sylvia atricapilla, only a few Common Whitethroats, Sylvia communis, many Lesser Whitethroats, Sylvia curruca, many Spotted Flycatchers, Muscicapa striata and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Ficedula parva, good numbers of Common Redstarts, Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Whinchats, Saxicola rubetra, Northern Wheatears, Oenanthe oenanthe and a single Tawny Pipit, Anthus campestris.

This tour gave us the opportunity to witness the spectacular autumn migration Continue reading Fall migration at the Black Sea Coast/ Romania

Migration of raptors over the Macin Mountains National Park

Because Macin Mountains is famous as an important migration hotspot for raptors in autumn, we decided to visit this site after a visit in May again at the end of September.

An excellent choice. Arriving only at around 11:00h the activity of the “normal” birds were low. But the highlight, we were looking for, was the migration of flying raptors anyway. This time of the day was just right – as you can see in the gallery. We did manage to observe two adult, White-tailed Eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla in a heavy fight with a pair of Common Raven, and a juvenile individual just flying slowly overhead. Short after a Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, hovered over our observation point in search of prey.

Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus, is one of the largest buzzards of Europe and is the most common bird of prey in the Macin Mountains National Park. He usually builds his nest on cliffs. Other breeding raptors of that area include Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and Saker Falcon. But of the rarer breeding raptors we did not see one, but one (or more) migrating Pallid Harrier, Circus macrourus , were seen hovering on the cliff along. We were surprised to see so often (or so many) Pallid Harriers here in Macin again – as we were happy to see the migration of Pallid Harrier along the Black Sea coast north of Constanta. An Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, could be observed in a furious air combat with a Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo.

Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, and Lesser Spotted Eagle, Aquila pomarina, were seen just migrating against the steel-blue sky in the wonderful mountainous scenery. It was a brilliant afternoon with not to many images today and large crops to some of them. But the birds which were photographed were top quality.

Of course we did not find any of the breeding songbirds we found in May. As you can read in a blog or see in the gallery at that time we had two species of Continue reading Migration of raptors over the Macin Mountains National Park

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 Continue reading Booted Warbler and other vagrants on Helgoland

Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor on Helgoland

During a trip in the 1st half of October 2012 to experience migrating birds on Helgoland several remarkable sighting could be noted. Just one sighting very short. A beautiful Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor, could be seen in perfect light in the afternoon of the 13th of October in the area of the former Suedhafen (southern harbor) of the tiny offshore island of Helgoland in the Northern Sea, roughly 50 km out of sea from the shores of Friesland. Later on there were seen 2 more individuals on that day. On the next days, Sunday, the 14th and Monday, the 15th of October only 1 Great Grey Shrike could be seen on Helgoland.

This was the first sighting for the fall migration. The last observation of the Great Grey Shrike has been on the 17th of April on that island. Although not a regular sighting on Helgoland, the Great Grey Shrike does not qualify to be rare enough to be listed in the category “Rare birds – day by day” as you can see on the superb website of the Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Helgoland e.V. (OAG)

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 13/II „Passeriformes, Sittidae – Laniidae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that migration of the Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor, (also called Northern Shrike), at the coast Continue reading Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor on Helgoland

Blue Tit migration on southern tip of Falsterbo/ Sweden

During the last week of September 2012, huge numbers of Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) have been observed in Nabben at the peninsula of Falsterbo, the south-western tip of Sweden. 24,000 individuals has been migrating at Nabben which is 10% more than what is seen in a whole year in average. In the Migration Counts run by the Falsterbo Vogelstation  you see, that only the years 1996, 2003 and 2008 can compete with the migration numbers of this year.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 13/I „Passeriformes, Muscicapidae – Paridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that all migrating behavior is shown by the Blue Tit. Some are resident bird, some (especially the youngs) show dismigration Continue reading Blue Tit migration on southern tip of Falsterbo/ Sweden

Ring Ouzel migrating through the Taunus near Frankfurt/ Main

Sunny weather and clear sky seduced for a nice hike on midday of September 30th through the upper Taunus near Bad Camberg, only 25 km north of the center of the city of Frankfurt. Having parked the car near Riedelbach, the nice Riedelbacher Heide on more than 500m above sea level (asl) was a resting home of a little flock of resting Ring Ouzel, Turdus torquatus. In totel 6 individuals could be seen. Immediately I made some shots with my camera. The birds were quite shy, trying to avoid contact with the photographer. They were uttering their contact call almost all the time. Only one of the images is good enough to proof the observation.
The Riedelbacher Heide is a small – but nevertheless the biggest in the upper Taunus – area of juniper heathland, which is protected as a nature reserve (Naturschutzgebiet).
When we returned to the car in the evening probably the flock has already flewn further south along the slopes of the Hochtaunus north of Frankfurt/Main.
To cope with the growing demand Continue reading Ring Ouzel migrating through the Taunus near Frankfurt/ Main

Black Kite on migration along Black Sea coast Romania

During a trip from September 21st till 24th 2012 to experience migrating birds in Romania a remarkable sighting could be noted. A juvenile Black Kite was seen flying against heavy wind southward on his migration route along the Black Sea coast near the town of Eforie over Lake (Lacul) Techirghiol. Lacul Techirghiol and Eforie are located south of Constanta right on the middle of the Black Sea coast of Romania.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 4 „Falconiformes“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that migration of the Black Kite at the Bosporus/ Turkey could be seen between Mid of August until Mid of September. The pattern of migration is said to be the non-breeding birds first (already end of July or August) than the adult Black Kites and – with a postponement of roughly 3-4 weeks the young birds of that year. In so far the observation fits perfect.

Local ornithologist regard migrating Black Kites in fall as “not common”. It was a very common species in Romania in the first half of the 20 century, but after the ’60s the number of breeding pairs quickly decreased. There are no records of breeding pairs in the last 5 years, but maybe a very few pairs still breed somewhere in Romania. Only during the migration it isn’t a very rare species in Dobrogea. Further south, two were noted moving south from the viewpoint above Sunny Beach on the 13th. Of September 2009. They were noted south of this observation point at Bulgaria´s Black Sea Coast by Branta Tours.

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 remote places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. One trip already was made to the Black Sea Coast of Romania, Continue reading Black Kite on migration along Black Sea coast Romania

Rare buntings in the western Palearctic

For middle Europe, Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim listed 16 species of buntings of the genus Emberiza plus the Corn Bunting, Miliaria calandra, of the genus Miliaria, the Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, of the genus Plectrophenax the Lapland Bunting (also known as Lapland Longspur), Calcarius lapponicus, of the genus Plectrophenax in his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 14/III „Emberizidae“. In total there are 19 species of buntings occurring in the west-center part of the Western Palearctic. The List of the birds of the whole Western Palearctic count for 25 species in this respect.

Of the rarer species of buntings some species occure as vagrants from the northern or eastern parts of Asia, as the Pine Bunting, Emberiza leucocephalos, the Yellow-browed Bunting, Emberiza chrysophrys, the Rustic Bunting, Emberiza rustica, Chestnut Bunting, Emberiza rutila, the Red-headed Bunting, Emberiza bruniceps, the Black-faced Bunting, Emberiza spodocephala and finally the Little Bunting, Emberiza pusilla. The plumage normally is quite drab due to their bush- and ground-dwelling lifestile a rare bunting is not easy to identify. This is particulary true for the females. Here you can find some images in the gallery of the rarer species of buntings.

Of the rarer species of buntings only the Little Bunting can be found with some regularity mainly in fall in western Europe. In Germany Little Buntings were observed at the Lisdorf Beringungsstation on the 13th of Oct 2011 and in Mecklenburg at the Greifswalder Oie on the 25th of Sept. 2011. On the Island of Helgoland, Little Buntings are twitched several times during the fall migration. On the other hand Helgoland was a temporary home for the Rustic Bunting, Emberiza rustica, Continue reading Rare buntings in the western Palearctic

Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013

In late summer (mid-late August/early September), the Brehm Fund for International Bird Conservation, Bonn, offers an ornithological tour to the United States. The southwestern part – located between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – provides numerous ornithological highlights, which we will do in California and Texas Station.

California, because of its exposed location along the Pacific flyway, has an extremely diverse avifauna (over 640 species), including interesting deposits of water-and seabirds. In addition, up to 10 different species of hummingbirds, such as Anna’s, Costa’s and Calliope Hummingbird, can be observed regularly. Highlights of the trip will detour to the coastal marshes south of Los Angeles (e.g. Western Sandpiper, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow), the lagoon of Malibu (Least Tern, Black Skimmer) and in the vicinity of the Salton Sea (Caspian Tern, Yellow-footed Gull). We will also check typical chaparral habitats (coastal shrub with endemic Wrentit, California Quail, Black-headed and California Gnatcatcher) and visit the coastal mountain range with its coniferous forests (occurrence of Acorn Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, Steller’s Jay). The trip to a bird island of Channel Islands National Park (including endemic Island Scrub-Jay, colonies of Brandt’s Cormorant and California Gull and the possibility of observing whales) can be scheduled optional. In 2009 and 2011 excellent images of pelagic birds could be shot to enlarge the portfolio von Bird-Lens. With a bit of luck these seabirds – as you see here in the gallery– can be seen on the ferry Continue reading Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013

Spring migration and birds of prey in Extremadura – April 2013

In spring 2013, there will be an ornithological study tour to the region of Extremadura, southwesternSpain. It includes the provinces ofBadajozand Cáceres east of the border withPortugal, and is not only famous for the best-preserved medieval monuments inSpainbut among nature lovers for its unique combination of oak woodlands, grasslands, agricultural landscapes, lakes and rocky regions. Accordingly, the avifauna is highly diverse (about 340 spp.), with many species having their distribution centers for the Iberian Peninsula and southwestern Europe in that region. The spectrum ranges from common birds like the Lesser Kestrel, Azure-winged Magpie and Thekla Lark to outspoken rarities, such as White-headed Duck, Little and Great Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-shouldered (or Black-winged) Kite, (European) Roller and Great Spotted Cuckoo – species which are only distributed here and/or are already gone at most other places in Europe. The list of remarkable sightings is growing continuously; in spring of 2012, for the first time Lesser Crested Tern and Little Swift were recorded for the Extremadura.
A highlight of the tour will be a visit to the Monfragüe National Park north of Trujillo, which has been established

Continue reading Spring migration and birds of prey in Extremadura – April 2013

birdline : Message: STILT SANDPIPER in Northumberland

Micropalama himantopus, non-breeding plumage, Progresso in Yucatan/ Mexico

An adult Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus), remains for its second day at Low Newton-by-the -Sea (Northumberland) on the scrape between the village and Newton Pool  (see: birdline : Message: STILT SANDPIPER in Northumberland). There it can be viewed from the footpath at NU 241 243. Please park in the village car park rather than on the adjacent road. This an interesting message for someone from the continent who is birding in Scotland (as I did last year) right now. The location in the northern part of England, close to the border to Scotland, is just 82 miles – or some 2 hours – drive from Edinburgh. If you are planning a visit to the excellent FarneIslands with its 65,000 pairs in 14 species of seabirds, it is just a further drive of roughly 7 miles (or 15 minutes) away.  As far as I can see, an even better twitch for a continental european as for a british birder. The last twitch I could find of a Stilt Sandpiper in Germany was from Strandsee Hohenfelde, Schleswig-Holstein, in July 2008. Good luck!

Black Stork over Altenhain/ Bad Soden

A look in the sky this evening. Hey, this is the silhouette of a stork – isn´t it? Yes, indeed a Black Stork, Ciconia nigra, could be seen over the nice little village of Altenhain on 250 m asl. The Black Stork was coming straight forward from the west (from Kelkheim, Main-Taunus-Kreis) circled three times high in the sky and passed the valley of Bad Soden/ Altenhain at 6pm. After less than 2 minutes the Black Stork disappeared behind the eastern horizon. Probably he flew along the southern slope of the Hochtaunus north of Frankfurt/Main. Continue reading Black Stork over Altenhain/ Bad Soden

A Greenish Warbler in the middle of Germany

The Greenish Warbler – or Grünlaubsänger in german – could be observed in the little town of Hilchenbach (427 asl) in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia. The Greenish Warbler has established as a breeding bird in South Finland and at the coast of the eastern Baltic sea quite recently. But a singing Greenish Warbler in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia in the middle of Germany is an exception nonetheless. This indivudual could be seen on the 10th of June 2012 along a stream near a retirement home in the center of the town. First the local ornithologists assumed it would be a Taiga Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis or Sibirischer Zilpzalp), who managed to make its way to Hilchenbach. Deliberate singing made the identification easy eventually. The Warbler was discovered on the 1st of June and had been seen by several observers in the meantime. One other discovery in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia dates back to the year 1987, when a singing male was observered in Heiligenhaus near Overath 40 kilometers west of Cologne.

Continue reading A Greenish Warbler in the middle of Germany

An Imperial Eagle in Romania: an unexpected surprise

May is Migration and early breeding time in Romania´s Black Sea coast. Thus it is prime birdwatching time. After having seen many of the speciality birds like Pelicans, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills in the Danube Delta, a small group of bird photographers went for the Dobrudgea– organized by Sakertours. A big surprise was, what you see on the pictures: a juvenile Imperial Eagle. Here you can see Imperial Eagle in flight. Photographed in the nice countryside of Romania near the city of Constanta. The eagle was flying from the east along the northern limits of the Cheile Dobrogei – the Dobrogei Gorge. After having seen (young) Imperial Eagle in Oman on several occasions, the identification was not too difficult.
The Imperial Eagle is sparsely distributed from central, south-east and eastern Europe east to Lake Baikal in Russia. Continue reading An Imperial Eagle in Romania: an unexpected surprise

Iberian Chiffchaff on Fuerteventura

Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus (or P. brehmii  as it is called, too) is mainly found on the Iberian peninsula in Spain and Portugal but migrates to the south in fall. This chiffchaff is brighter, greener on the rump, and yellower below than Phylloscopus collybita. This species is a long-distance migrant, occurring every year on the way back from it´s wintering grounds in western Africa as far north as Germany. Right now a bird has been located in Zarrendorf near Stralsund in the north-eastern corner in Germany. This is in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Other vagrants has been found in other parts of Germany in the recent weeks, too.

It was a pleasure for me to see a Iberian Chiffchaff in low scrub on the sandy plain on top of the isthmus of Jandia in the southern corner of Fuerteventura/ Canary Islands.   Continue reading Iberian Chiffchaff on Fuerteventura

Pratincole in Oman´s deserts

These pictures are from Dawkah Farm on 10th of march 2012. Migration time in the desert could be very rewarding as surprises could arise everywhere. So happens with this pratincole with a wine-red underwing. First I thought of course of a. But looking at the photos I did not find the white trailing edge on the wing. The wash of orange on underparts are quite extensive and the red on the bill is restricted to the very beginning of the bill. I am thinking of Oriental Pratincole but cannot exclude Collared Pratincole, either. More pictures, you will find under “Photo” in the Gallery. Who can help?

A Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis: From Eye to Eye

Most pictures of Steppe Eagle you find in the internet are from falconry or zoos. But the keen birdwatchter want the right stuff. Here you can see Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis, in the wild. Photographed in the desert environment of Dhofar/Oman near the city of Salalah. 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 remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. Part of the images gained are photos of Baillon’s Crake, Heuglin’s Gull and Imperial Eagle. The behaviour of Steppe Eagles is not very eagle-like. They prefer to scavange but are able to kill their own prey, too. This is the reason, that Steppe Eagles can be found on garbage dumps in Arabia where they find easy food supply on carcasses of livestock and slaughterhouse waste. Continue reading A Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis: From Eye to Eye

The Brahminy Starling: a vagrant from India at the coast of Oman

Brahminy Starling: a vagrant from India at the coast of Oman. Migration time in Oman is prime birdwatching time. After having seen Moustached Warbler and Savi’s Warbler in the middle of the Oman´s deserts, now I can present the 3rd bird, which will be announced via a Rare Bird Report to the Oman Bird Records Committee.

About the distribution and the habitat of this starling, it is said, that it is a resident breeder in Nepal and India and a winter visitor to Sri Lanka. This passerine bird is usually found in dry forest and cultivation and is often found close to human habitations. These birds like to roost in leafy trees as it happened here, in a small wadi near Sadah. Coordinates: N 17° 03´5169´´ E 55°04´4054´´.  Both birds were very reluctant to show up. If I would not have spend a minimum of 2 hours to photograph Pale Crack-Martin, Hirundo obsoleta,  on a nest built under the roof of a prayer hall, I would probably missed this species. Continue reading The Brahminy Starling: a vagrant from India at the coast of Oman

Moustached Warbler in the middle of the Oman Desert

Migration time in the desert could be very rewarding as surprises could arise everywhere. So happens with a Moustached Warbler, Acrocephalus melanopogon, in the little nice oasis of Mudday in the north-western corner of Dhofar/ Oman.

This passerine bird is a species found in upright aquatic vegetation such as reeds and sedge as it happens in this oasis, too. Found in a tiny patch of reed of a size of maybe 2 squaremeters right in the middle of a concrete pool, which exhibits the core of the oasis area. The oasis was otherwise densely covered by stands of date palms. This bird normally keeps well hidden in dense vegetation and is only located by it´s rattling sound. If once located by their characteristic calls, it might happen, that the bird feels treated when agitated by the sound of a tape recorder. In that case on the 10th of march 2012, at around 10:00 I was successful in shooting the photo of the blog and more pictures, you will see here!

This Old World warbler in the genus Acrocephalus breeds mainly in southern Europe and southern temperate Asia. Continue reading Moustached Warbler in the middle of the Oman Desert