In the beginning of August I shot the image of a drab warbler near a pond in southern Brandenburg. I did not realize the bird at that moment, as the whole willow bush in a otherwise highly agricultural land was quite busy with migrating birds, e.g. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) well. I think, I remember that “Marsh Warbler” was my first thinking? The slender appearance on one of the images would be a hint. But he greyish tinged legs, the shape and colour of the bill and especially the head pattern made me think of a Sylvia-Warbler. The brownish cap could be some pollution/ pollen, yes. But I thought this not very useful in August. What really irritated me were the colour and the contrast in the tertial fringes, which was the reason I had the impression that the bird looks a hybrid between a Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and a Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis). Looking at the images with 2 month in between, I was more in the direction of thinking of a young Blackcap due to the whitish eyering and the shape of the bill. Continue reading Young Warbler as an ID-challenge in southern Brandenburg in Germany
Pomarine Jaegers (Stercorarius pomarinus) are high-arctic gulls, which spend most of the non-breeding season offshore in the Atlantic. Thus, a Pomarine Jaeger is a very unusual sighting in Germany, especially for inland states like Brandenburg. End of September a Pomarine Jaeger was seen on the Gülper See.
The Gülper See (lake) in the Havelaue west of Rhinow is always worth a visit. However, it was a small sensation when a Pomarine Jaeger was observed on September 26th and 27th, 2019 – and thus before the storm depression Mortimer. The immature Pomarine Jaeger of the dark morphe was first observed resting on the water. In the further course the bird was photographed very nicely in flight and on the meadow opposite the lakeshore. More often it was parasitic to Caspian Gulls (Larus cachinnans). Whether it was very successful, remained open. Later, she was at least with a large perch ashore, which the Jaeger “bit by bit” cranked.
The next day the Pomarine Jaeger was last seen and photographed swimming on the lake. A short time later the bird was observed in a vigorous battle with a Caspian Gull on the water surface. This Continue reading Pomarine Jaeger deep in hinterland in Germany
As the morning dawns on an early October day at the Playa de los Lances, west of Tarifa at the southern tip of Spain, only two fighting sanderlings (Calidris alba) con be observed and photographed. Apart from that, there are Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), Dunlin (Calidris alpina) and at least one or two Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) in the estuaries of the periodic water courses to take pictures. In addition there are some Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) and one European Golden-Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). Wait a moment!?
A Golden Plover here at the tidal seam? This is a very unusual habitat! The golden plover, I have to be suspicious and necessarily see if this was not an American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica), possibly even from 29.9 from an Ian Ford and then again from 3.-4.10 as a juvenile copy at Playa de los Lances, Tarifa was seen by David Cuenca Espinosa. And indeed, the exact image analysis actually results in a juvenile American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica), which runs along the beach in the first sun. Good to see the large hand primary projection and the protruding feathers over Continue reading American Golden Plover near Tarifa at the Playa de los Lances
In case of observations of Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) it is important to rule out other small falcons. The type of hovering of the Red-footed Falcon is often called useful for species identification. In a case of observation in the Lower Flaeming, 50km south of Berlin, this was very helpful. The gentle hilly landscape of the Lower Flaming south of the medieval town of Jueterbog is agriculturally used. Therefore irrigation systems and electricity pylons are almost the only landmarks. Red-footed Falcon can see you from afar. And you might realize Red-footed Falcon from a distance as well – if you are aware of their field marks. Two Red-footed Falcons were sitting on power lines in the hilly landscape of the Lower Flaming. One of the Red-footed Falcons flies off, sweeping over a harvested potato field at a remarkable speed, then rises and hovers. A little later the birds dives down to earth and comes up a little later with a big insect in the clutches.
Flight pattern was quite good to observe. The Red-footed Falcon in its graceful and agile flight behavior is generally located between the Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and the Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) and may sometimes have traits of both Falcons. The Red-footed Falcon has a quick and agile cross-country flight on its Continue reading Red-footed Falcons in Berlin and Brandenburg
A satellite transmitter packed on a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) called “Christiansieneson” recorded a save landing the Inner Niger Delta in Mali. The Black-tailed Godwit has made the more than 4,100 kilometers from the wetlands of the Duemmer (south of Bremen in northern Germany) down to the African wintering area in record time and virtually in one go. This was the result of the evaluation of a satellite transmitter, which the young bird had received as one of 25 Black-tailed Godwits in the LIFE project ” Wiesenvoegel “, which means Meadow birds. The project is managed by the Niedersächsische Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz (NLWKN). Since 2018, 25 Black-tailed Godwits had been equipped with satellite transmitters. These satellite transmitters are extremely light at five grams and are worn like a backpack.
Unlike most of his conspecifics, “Christiansieneson” flew the route without long stops and did not take the “classical” route of other tracked birds. On July 15, the juvenile was located at lunchtime in the breeding area, on July 16, the Godwit already flew over Algeria. Just under 55 hours after leaving Duemmer, the bird finally reached the Inner Niger Delta in Mali. “Christiansieneson” flew on average 74 kilometers per hour.
The evaluation of the birds equipped with satellite transmitter in 2019 in the EU bird sanctuary Duemmer shows that these migrate Continue reading Save landing for Black-tailed Godwit Christiansieneson
The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) flies elegantly on the wetland in the middle of the agricultural landscape of the Lower (Niederer) Fläming. Carefully the bird secures to all sides before it starts on the muddy shore with the search for food. Although at the beginning it just stands silently on the edge and obviously lets the whole scenery work on it in contemplation. For a long time, I look at the Grey Heron and its feeding site from a hide. Then I return my eyes to the lonely Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), who has been scared off by the Grey Heron and is looking for food on the opposite bank. The wader gets then society in the form of a Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) as well.
After a while, the Grey Heron apparently managed to convince himself of the lack of space. After some settling in, he walks along the shore; the other birds (the Common Snipe and the Green Sandpiper) are on the lookout. The proximity of the good 5 times as big heron is obviously suspect for them. Suddenly I hear a loud splash in the water. The Grey Heron has captured swimming a Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). Smooth Newt, also known as the Common Newt is a species of amphibian, the most common one in Germany. The Heron brings the Smooth Newt ashore and chews extensively on the newt. I am surprised that the Grey Heron does not swallow the Smooth Newt directly down. But the Newt probably does not taste that well. At some point the Grey Heron leaves the Smooth Newt fall on the land and returns – clearly disgusted – back Continue reading Grey Heron fighting with a Common Newt
The Spanish province of Valencia was visited in summer. One reason was to relax for a week. The second argument was to get a feel for avian delights of an area of the country normally thought of in mainstream tourism terms. As a habitual visitor to the more well-known birding destination of Andalucía and Portugal, I wasn’t expecting too much but was enjoyably surprised by the numbers and variety of Valencia’s avian inhabitants. One day I headed for the steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites.
A stop at the tiny Bonete Municipal Cemetery en route meant we could search a small lake and a few trees, giving us great intimate views of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron pernocterus), Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), a lonesome Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) and – best of all – a yellow-and-black male Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are common in these lowland Continue reading Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha
Reed seems a monotonous habitat. In early spring, the reeds of the previous years are uniform and stand close to each other; pale gray, sometimes brown. Peeling stalk layers of the reed already provide for the maximum of visual variety. Otherwise: a sea of vertical stems. But like the right sea, the reed “sea” is inhabited. And this habitat is both species-rich and individual-rich. One of the inhabitants is the Eurasian Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Its plumage is as grayish-brownish as its surroundings. Like its habitat, this bird ist drab, this bird has no obvious features for the birder. A closer relative is Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides), which is colored brown, too. Like the Savi’s Warbler the tail of the Eurasian Reed-Warbler is slightly wedge-shaped, but not as strong and broad as in the Locustella- Warblers.
What is striking, though, are the song of the inhabitants of the sea of reed. This applies to the Reed-Warbler as well as for the Locustella- Warblers. Here is the Eurasian Reed-Warbler to advantage. Its song consists of a continuous, strongly rhythmic rarely accelerating performed scandals. As a rule, simple and short, relatively quiet and slowly recited elements are introduced; the louder body with constant pause lengths usually ends abruptly after different durations. Its singing can probably not be described as well-sounding. The singing is rather scratchy. But not so rough and deep compared to the Great Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), which also lives in extensive reeds. The bird sometimes sings in the cover of the reed; but also like to sing in dense bushes. In choral singing with neighbors, it does not keep the Eurasian Reed-Warbler Continue reading Eurasian Reed-Warbler in a jungle of reed
A fresh summer morning with a steel-blue sky opened the day. In front of the steel-blue sky over the Zichow forest in the Randowbruch only 10 km away from the polish border, raptors are circling up in the air. One of them is strikingly different. Red Kites (Milvus milvus) circle around him and – after a while – attack him. Finally it is clear: the highly thought-after immature Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) is found.
After a beautiful but quite cool morning, the birding day had gone so far without the long-awaited sighting of the Imperial Eagle. The day was – now at 10:30 am – although still young already very productive. But the exceptional vagrant had not yet emerged. Bad luck: on Tuesday and Wednesday of the week, the Eagle of the Randowbruch between Zichow and Zehnebeck could not be detected within five hours of up to 4 observers.
Otherwise, it was already a beautiful, productive birding day. Almost no sighting of a regular bird of prey remained unfulfilled. So many Red Kites – especially young birds – ,Black Kites (Milvus migrans), young and adult White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), Eurasian Marsh-Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), at least 4 Lesser Spotted Eagle (Clanga pomarina), one or the other Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and as a nice highlight a deep passing Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo).
Shortly before a sighting of an Aquila-Eagle was still uncertain. Continue reading Imperial Eagle near border of Eastern Germany
A black bird with partially white belly rushes in a low flight along between huge boulders over the fast-flowing stream. For sure, this is a White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Often you see them with nesting material in the beak. These are the classic photos that you see of dippers. They fly preferably to and from exposed spots, as stones outstanding on the water.
Over moss-grown stones and some meters high cascades, the clear water rushes through varied mixed forests. Beside Dippers, Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) as well as Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) are to be found here.
The streams that flow from the Vosges in an easterly direction to the Upper Rhine, have to overcome a considerable slope. Their eroding power is correspondingly strong. Deeply cut valleys with steep flanks therefore characterize the southeastern Vosges. Particularly interesting in terms of photography are the valleys of the Doller below the Lac d’Alfeld and the Thur above the Lac de Kruth-Wildenstein with their numerous tributaries. On the upper reaches of the Doller, Beavers (Castor castor) have been spreading for some Continue reading White-throated Dippers in the valleys of the Vosges
A spectacular whitish bird almost effortless standing in the windy air on close distance. But also deafening screeching, biting fishy smell and occasionally a drop of bird droppings from the air. It is not a pure pleasure to photograph at the Heligoland bird cliffs.
But you can exploit a unique approach in aerial photography – at least for Germany. The most impressive birds are the Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus). Full-frame images are already possible with a 300 mm focal length lens. This focal length is even perfect for aerial photography. Only for shots of the nests with the seabirds, sometimes longer focal lengths are advised. During the breeding season from April to August, you have the best opportunities to get worthwhile shots. Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and Common Murre (Uria aalge) also prefer to breed in the steep, inaccessible cliffs at this time.
In the breeding colonies of the bird cliffs of Heligoland there is a constant coming and going. To my surprise, however, the birds Continue reading Heligoland and its Northern Gannets
Although the distribution area of Motacilla flava flavissima is not far from Germany, records of this (sub-)species are quite rare. As to be expected, there are some records from the islands in the wadden sea (Amrum, Sylt-Ost, Norderney, Wangerooge, Neuwerk, Baltrum) or near the coast as e.g. Horumersiel but the best location for a german twitcher is Heligoland for sure. Thus, we were alerted when we saw a record in Ornitho.de at the end of May 2019.
Something yellow flashes in the green grass. Could this be the Yellow-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava flavissima) reported this morning? On the circular route over the upper plateau of the tiny off-shore island Heligoland we actually pass a cow pasture. 6 Galloways and a goat can be seen on a pasture fenced with electric wire. Here at the so-called Oberland of Heligoland the Yellow Wagtail of the subspecies flavissima was spotted this morning. That was at 10:15 am, much earlier than now at 4:00 pm. But the cattle meadow seems to be still worth a look. Not least because of a pale Continue reading British Yellow Wagtail on Heligoland
Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (Dryobates minor) only rarely find a breeding ground under the flower roof of apple trees in Central Europe anymore, because there are hardly any orchards or other suitable habitats for this small woodpeckers. However, the structurally rich landscape of the Vordertaunus near Bad Soden close to Frankfurt am Main is an exception. Here still a number of breeding pairs live in old tree caves and during the breeding season, the fruit blossom provides a striking backdrop for bird photographers. The little woodpecker is perhaps the least well-known of the black-white-red woodpeckers of Europe.
In the diversity of Central European cultural landscape, this small woodpecker has lived many centuries in close proximity to humans. Here the former inhabitant of alluvial forests found optimal conditions to live. But in recent decades, its holdings in Central Europe have partly melted drastically. In some areas it is still to be found on distribution maps, but in fact it is extinct in many places or there are only residual occurrences. The culprit of his disappearance is certainly the intensive agricultural use and the associated destruction of his habitat.
The woodpecker often shares its breeding grounds with the Little Owl (Athene noctua). Here, however, the flat Lower Rhine in North Continue reading Orchards: home for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
A flash of blue suddenly took my eye and, when I checked to see what had caused me to blink, I spotted a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) sitting on an overhanging branch. A short, sharp whistle had announced the Common Kingfisher. Now, in spring, it will soon be heard on many natural waters again. Kingfishers often fly low and fast over the water. Because of its pronounced territoriality in the spring, the nest is not far.
The “nest” consists of a more than 50 cm long tube with a subsequent incubator. However, the material to be worked on the site must neither be too hard nor too loose. If the Common Kingfisher encounters rocks or root systems or if a loose ground collapses, the Common Kingfisher must start work in another location again.
There was a time when I was curious about what happened to the bird’s nest, when the water floods and the banks are flooded. That can have devastating consequences. To be reasonably protected from flooding, the bird’s nest is usually located at a height of 1 – 3 m above the water level in steep walls with grave-capable, loamy or sandy soils. When the tube is excavated to the right size, the female moves into the cave. The Common Kingfisher, tunnels tubes to up to 100 cm long and lets them end in an extended incubator. Among the existing breeding sites, those that occupy every year, even after Continue reading Kingfishers and their nests
The Vosges in eastern France are a very attractive tourist destination in summer time. The The Western Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia rhenana) is a secretive representative of the grouse family, which has its last refuge in the Vosges. But it is also in danger in the northeast of France. Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) are certainly the most common species of birds, but some rare bird species live in the forests as well. Beside birds of the higher mountain zone one sees some interesting plants like Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Mountain arnica (Arnica montana), Alpine Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla alpina) and Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea).
Due to the difficulty of exact surveys, the decline in Western Hazel Grouse in northeastern France is described not easy. Since the 1930s, there are five to seven methodologically comparable observations. The area under consideration in the first survey is a rather continental-toned climate. The area is forested to about 33%, with a variation of 20% in arable land and up to 75% in the low mountain range. Four natural areas can be distinguished:
- The densely cultivated Champagne on the edge of the Paris Basin with 20% forest share at sea heights of 60 to 200 m.
- The zone of hills and plateaus at 100-400 (-500) m asl in the Ardennes and Lorraine with 37% forest, mainly oak and beech forest and coniferous forest.
- The up to 1,424 m high Vosges with their vegetation levels: Below 500 m, a forest cover of 44% beech oak forest with sprinkled coniferous on the wetter west side of the mountains, and mainly sessile forests on the drier east side. Tree cover has been significantly replaced by conifers on the east side. Above 500 m, forest cover with beech fir forests increases to 75%. Beyond 1,000 m there are spruce-enriched beech-fir or pure beech high-altitude forests.
- The Alsace Upper Rhine plain (100-250 m asl) with 25% forest cover, on the one hand alluvial oak-ash or riparian forests and, on the other hand, oak-beech forests on sandy areas, enriched with Scots pine.
A pair of Common Cranes (Grus grus) are standing in the meadow in the twilight of dusk in Brandenburg. They obviously searched and found each other. While at the end of January an impressive migration of the cranes could be observed in Germany, arctic temperatures with two-digit minus degrees had performed over 3 weeks. The Common Cranes obviously could not impress that.
In the setting sun, they walked across a mowed wetland on the edge of a vast wetland and reed area. Again and again they walked towards each other after they had gone their own way shortly before. When they approached each other, especially when they were close together, they trumpeted their togetherness. The breath came from both throats and formed nicely visible vapor billowing in the icy cold evening air.
In addition to the rolling call, which can be heard above all from the flight formations, the Common Crane can also clearly distinguish the duet and a special warning call. The loud trumpet-like call is an Continue reading Cranes in evening duet
In size between a Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) and a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and black as well. Pygmy Cormorants are increasingly a sighting in Germany. Right now, a Pygmy Cormorant has been reported from Stotternheimer See near Erfurt. Several images show, as the Pygmy Cormorant swims, rest and starts from the water in front of reeds on this lake in Thuringia. Before, this species – maybe the same bird – was reported from the southern bay of Sulzer Lake which is also close to Erfurt. The bird was always good to see from the 3rd to the 11th of December 2018. Pygmy Cormorants found in Thuringia fit very well into the picture of a more frequent occurrence of the bird species in Central Europe starting from the years 2000, as reports from the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, from the Bodensee and from Germany. Scientists suspect that this phenomenon can be explained by the large increase in the breeding population in the Hortobágy in Hungary. The species seems to occur increasingly in Germany in the second half of the year – especially in late autumn and winter.
Pygmy Cormorants are in fact small relatives of the European Continue reading Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus) in Germany
A clear winter day. The alders and willows along the small stream are covered with hoarfrost. Wafts of mist rise from the slow-flowing water in the cold air. But then a whistle permeates the silence, and suddenly an azure flash of lightning rushes just above the surface of the water, once more a whistle, and then it is gone again.
Later, in spring I go to the same place and I’m curious if the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) has reoccupied its territory. When I approach the embankment, I already hear the chirping calls of two kingfishers in display. Standing behind a tree, I watch them with my binoculars. The male, recognizable by the black beak, flies off and it takes five minutes until I hear his whistle and he’s back with a little Continue reading Feeding with fish: Kingfisher´s wedding gift
Every now and then several species of old-world Warblers of the genus Phylloscopus are observed feeding on pollen and nectar. This habit is usually found during migratory periods and is thought to be associated by scientists as a means of building energy after or before long-distance flights. So far, migratory Phylloscopus warblers have been observed visiting the flowers of various plant species, including eucalyptus trees, aloes and capers. The fact that nectarivory is not restricted to migratory birds is proved by this picture showing a Canary Islands Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis) on the island of Tenerife visiting the flowers of an ornamental banana tree. Although this habit has been rarely observed or photographed, this individual has apparently learned to hover in front of the corollas and is able to feed nectar almost like a hummingbird (Trochilidae) or sunbird (Nectariniidae). It can be seen that this species is not a migratory bird, because the Canary Islands Chiffchaff is a native species of the Canaries, although closely related to central European Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) or the Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus). The Canary Islands Chiffchaff has more rounded wing tips than its northern relatives and the characteristic wing shape is clearly visible here.
From the far north of Europe and America images that show a Continue reading Hovering Phylloscopus – Warblers
A high-pitched call in early spring is heard from afar. An obtrusive väh-wäh-wäh – combination of calls can be heard after. A beautiful old mixed beech forest with several layers and plenty of dead wood is home of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius). A small hiking trail passes the ground at Langes Tal in the Western Hainich park area. The Middle Spotted Woodpecker is easily been seen in 5 meters height when it is calling. The Middle Spotted Woodpecker uses oak-dominated forest stands in the National Park. Beech dominated forest areas are only used when the beech trees are well over 140 years old or a high proportion of mixed tree species is available.
Signs of woodpecker’s nesting holes can be seen afterwards. The area of the Hainich National Park in general is important for many other species of Picids, including Grey-headed (Picus canus), Lesser Spotted (Dendrocopos minor) and Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) which are all quite common.
Using the playback method, along transects, an annual scientific study counted Woodpeckers distribution and abundance. In the context of the point stop count all woodpecker species occurring in the national park were proven. The results show that, as expected, the most common species were Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (41 % on average per year), Grey-headed Woodpecker (20 %) and Middle Spotted Woodpecker (21%). These species were detected in each study year. Continue reading Middle Spotted Woodpecker at Hainich National Park, Thuringia
Humans have always been fascinated by the elegant birds. Their calls ring in the autumn the beginning of winter and announce its early end in early spring. a wintry tour led to the resting place of more than 100 birds in the Rambower Moor in Prignitz district in Brandenburg.
South-east of the picturesque village Rambow in western Brandenburg the view opens into a wide plain. Reeds and shallow waters can be seen from afar. In between are tall grey figures in the wintry sun. They are Common Cranes (Grus grus) resting here in the middle of winter. They stand out wonderfully from the gold-yellow of the reeds behind them. The birds can already be seen at a great distance. In Rambower Moor, up to 1500 cranes will gather for a nightly rest in March. Of course, it is much less now. Maybe it is still too early in the day and too sunny. In good weathers Common Cranes spend more time on corn fields and come later to their resting place in the moor.
Actually, they should now be in their winter quarters in Spain and France. But winter does not seem so grim that it would be worth the Continue reading Cranes in the moor
A small road and a deep ditch are one of the ingredients of a birdwatching trip in Noord-Holland. Right now, an additional add-on is the sighting of a Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis). This Egret is rare in middle Europe but a common inhabitant of southern Europe. If you want to save time and distance you might try to look for this nice egret in a Nature reserve at the coast of Noord Holland near Camperduin.
During year end this egret stayed in the Harger- en Pettemerpolder, a reserve quite recently established to protect habitats for waders, ducks and geese. Narrow and windy roads along deep ditch pass the area. The Cattle Egret could be seen the first day on a wet meadow in some distance. On the way back, the egret was gone. Lucky man, I thought and only chose the road by accident the next day. This time the egret was standing right to the side of the road allowing for the image of the blog. And also on the next day the bird was there. This time standing in the garden of a small farmhouse together with a Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). The whole time I saw the egret in search of food, but could not see on what prey it was feeding. But obviously the habitat provided for enough food to stay for several days.
In general, the whole area in Noord-Holland is excellent for bird observations. E.g. an adult Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) could be observed north of Callantsoog in the newly established nature reserve “The Nollen van Abbestede” in June 2013. Again, there was a notice on www.waarneming.nl, that someone reported that a Continue reading Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) near Camperduin/ Noord Holland
Hotel garden lawns along the Red Sea coast can be remarkable birdy. The sun has just appeared on the horizon for 3 hours. Nevertheless, it is already really hot. Coming from breakfast in a hotel complex on the Egyptian Red Sea, we walk first our inspection round. Here we see again the two Ruffs (Calidris pugnax) and also the one Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus) in the middle of the hotel area on the same lawn as 5 days ago. When we then run back to the free grassy areas, I think to realize, that in contrast to spring bird quantity is high but diversity is rather low. Except for the Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava), we have not seen any other birds on the grass. Especially no Pipit. That is just thought, as we see two passerine birds patterned with broad-stripes. They are Red-throated Pipits (Anthus cervinus). One of the birds still has a still a red throat. Great, I’ll have to go and scan it again. When I come back, both Red-throated Pipits are practically still present in the same area. The Yellow wagtails are of course in the majority. As I approach, they all fly up. Then I hide behind a lush bush and crawl on all fours behind the bushes. Eventually they are not more than 8 meters ahead of me. In contrast to the Yellow wagtails the Red-throated Pipits seem not be so keen to stay in the shade. They give great images despite the steep sunlight. One of the Continue reading Red-throated Pipit: Fall migration along Egypts Rea Sea
An Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) sitting open on a stone singing in the morning light is a really rare sighting. The obtrusive väh-wäh-wäh – calls can be heard from afar. The emitting bird remains hidden. In the second half of April, the powerful courtship calls of a bird, which is rarely seen, are often heard. The Eurasian Wryneck is to be heard. Its voice is unmistakable. The Eurasian Wryneck prefers open landscape forms as a habitat. So its breeding ground in Europe can be found in orchards, parks and open, light forests. The Eurasian Wryneck spends the wintering season in Africa. At the end of March / beginning of April it returns to its breeding area. The Eurasian Wryneck quickly discovers a new breeding cave. The Eurasian Wryneck is grey-brown above, finely striped like a bark, below creamy yellow and has at the throat a grey-brown banded plumage. The Wryneck almost looks like a long-drawn sparrow. But the Wryneck can turn its head 90 degrees. This ability helped him to his name. Due to its camouflage color, it is particularly difficult to find it. But if it is in court in the spring, he mutates to the real screamer. Then the nasal calls of both sexes are hard to miss. During this time, the best options are to photograph different behaviors of this bird.
Since the Wryneck cannot make its own breeding caves, it is dependent on natural excavations in trees or on the caves of Continue reading Photographing Wrynecks
A strong wind from the east drives the whitecaps over the sea. Even in spring, the wind lets the photographer freeze to the bone. The sky is overcast and the persistent strong wind whirls the sand up to the edge of the cliffs. First, it is a steep, narrow stairs to climb up to the lighthouse, which stands on a rock spur. When I get to the top, I find that many Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) duck into their nesting holes for protection from the wind. Atlantic Puffins are relatively small birds which stand its ground in a crowded bird colony by settling in self-dug burrows. These burrows are dug usually up to 4 feet below the surface. Like most other seabirds they are colonial breeders. Underground Puffins rear their offspring. With feet and beak a comfortable housing is created that is safe from attacks by larger birds as sea gulls. This does not seem to be a promising start for a photo session. I am crouching in a grassy hollow in the lee of the lighthouse and I already reproach myself that it was a stupid idea to drive to the small island and in the very end this trip would be a waste of time. Later, however, I am astonished to see an Atlantic Puffin rising in front of me and being lifted into the air by a Continue reading Atlantic Puffin on Hornöya in Norway
Ponta Delgada Port on São Miguel, the biggest island of the Azores, is a busy place. This is true also in terms of foreign tourists and local visitors. Beautiful is the view from the pier from one of the sidewalk cafes. On first sight, it is a surprise that a wader comes very close even to busy tourist infrastructure. But the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) is searching for food on the rocks of the wavebreakers. The Whimbrel is a regular migrating bird on the Azores, which can be observed on all the islands of the Azores at any time of the year. The Whimbrel is one of the largest waders that occur in the archipelago. Something smaller than the Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), the bird has shorter legs, as well as a shorter, less decurved bill. Anyway the bill recedes still visibly down. The general tone of the plumage is brown, the belly is whitish. The most obvious character is it well-marked eyebrow (by comparison with the Eurasian Curlew, a bird with Continue reading Whimbrel in Ponta Delgada Port on São Miguel
Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) has experienced its most successful year for breeding in Great Britain in 2016. At least, an annual national survey carried out by RSPB mentioned this. This is pointed out in an article in birdguides about the breeding success in the UK.
This breeding success is welcome news for these bulky brown-streaked herons, who’ve endured a tumultuous history in Britain and Ireland. In the late 19th century Bittern had vanished from Britain. They were prized as a medieval banquet dish and consequently hunted intensively. The loss of their reedbed habitat contributed to their decline.
Bittern started to re-colonize England at the beginning of the twentieth century, but due to the continuing loss of habitat, their numbers declined from the middle of the century. By 1997, there were only 11 territorial males across the country
To mark their territory and advertise themselves to potential partners, male Bitterns make a distinctive ‘booming’ sound in the Continue reading Great Bittern back on stage in Great Britain
It is already some years ago, that I spent Christmas and New Year days at the coast of the Netherlands. Here I had my first sighting of a flying Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) in 2008. It was my second encounter, after one individual of a Short-eared Owl I witnessed sitting in the sandy grass of the coast near Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany. Of course I wanted to photograph this beautiful and rare owl as well.
At my next visit to this area in December 2009 I was lucky enough to see 3 different Short-eared Owls at one spot in action. In the late afternoon this birds start to get active and fly over the polders in this area looking for prey. It is really a fascinating view to see this beautiful birds flying over the fields and then abruptly changing direction to catch their prey, mainly mice, on the ground.
Then in January the next year I went to Zeeland again. I had not made these images I wanted to take of these birds. I hoped that the Continue reading Photographing flying Short-eared Owls
Hi-pitched callings are coming out of nowhere. Even the direction is not clear. In the poor light of the dawn I see a bird in flight. First I think of a Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria) or maybe a small female shrike like a Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio). Suddenly a Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) hops around the woodland floor in search of a new anthill. It moves clumsily on flat ground, with its tail raised. With a few hammer blows from its bill, the wryneck breaks into the ants nest. Ants swarm out, but they do not have a chance. The Wryneck can hold 150 ants in its throat at any one time.
Afterwards the Wryneck flies to an oak tree, gripping the rough bark with its strong feet. It looks in holes in the bark for grubs and food items. The Eurasian Wryneck detects the tiny sound of a beetle moving behind the bark, and swiftly inserts its long tongue to catch the insect. The bird´s sharp, chisel-tipped bill enables it to smash into anthills. Specially adapted salivary glands keep its tongue sticky, so it can pick up ants with a flicking action. The tongue is also long Continue reading A gourmet among woodpeckers: a Wryneck in Estonia
The rush of wind through feathers is the only sound to break the silence as a huge bird glided by just a few meters from a crack high in the mountains around Mount Olymp. A Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) soars above the mountains, scavenging for a meal. It is the only species of bird that cracks open bones to feast on the marrow inside. Lammergeiers are able lifting large carcasses to great heights. Then they drop them onto the rocks below to break up the bones and access the marrow. Smaller bones are swallowed whole.
Like other mountainous areas of Greece, Mt Olympus has a fine selection of raptors and these include Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), Cinereous Vulture or Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus). A national park in the eastern part of the Olympus Mountains of northern Thessaly includes some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Greece and is popular with hikers as well as birders. Lammergeiers were regularly seen until a few years ago and they were thought to be no longer permanently resident in the area.
But this year, an adult Lammergeier has been seen and photographed on the 6th April in Mt. Olympus by Thomas Nikolopoulos. The Lammergeier in flight appeared with a Golden Eagle on the grey sky. This is the first observation of an adult plumage bearded vulture since several years.
Two years ago, though, a 2nd-3rd calendar year bird was observed. Lammergeiers do occur in Crete, where the population is stable, at around 7 pairs. In the Alps the population has been increasing Continue reading Lammergeier at Mount Olymp/ Macedonia
You could read in May several times in the media that there were fewer Common Swifts (Apus apus) and Northern House-Martins (Delichon urbica) this year than in previous years. For example, a conservation organization reported on the results of the “Stunde der Gartenvogel”, which is equivalent the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch number of these fast-flying insectivores declined by 40% less compared to 2006, when the first garden birds count (Stunde der Gartenvogel) was heralded.
But is it possible to deduce the extent of the loss of insect-eating birds from a momentary impression?
Meanwhile, both species are already longer in the country and the breeding season is almost over. Thus, the number of Common Swift has already passed its zenith again and since the beginning of August, no adult or this year’s specimens are present at some colonies in Brandenburg. House-Martins will be still present for several weeks but have bred already as well.
Thus, there are now good preconditions for answering the question Continue reading Common Swift and Northern House-Martin: a bad year in Germany?
Rosy Starlings (Pastor roseus) are sociable and partly nomadic breeding birds of the steppes and semi-deserts of Central Asia and Southeastern Europe. Westward thrusts are usually associated with the mass propagation of grasshoppers. In Germany, Rosy Starlings are rare vagrants with few records per year, which usually affect rather inconspicuous pale-colored juveniles. At the moment, however, the chances of observing an attractive adult bird in partly breeding plumage are as good as virtually never before.
Currently there is a strong influx of Rosy Starlings. In the past two weeks, an unusually large number of adult Rosy Starlings have been found far to the west of their regular breeding grounds. Hundreds Continue reading Influx of Rosy Starlings in Middle Europe
Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica), Eurasian Curlews (Numenius arquata), Spotted Redshanks (Tringa erythropus), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) and – maybe – even one Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) in the backlight of the evening. Some flocks of waders are flying in. Evening mood at the Lister Ellenbogen (elbow). You might think you are alone in the world.
North of the “Kampener Vogelkoje” begins the nearly thirteen square kilometer Listland dune area. The area reaching up to the Ellenbogen nature reserve is well known by the up to 35 meters high raised dunes. They are undoubtedly one of the scenic highlights of Sylt. Part of Listland is the northernmost recreational area in Germany: the Ellenbogen. This spot is characterized by beautiful beaches, natural dunes and the two photogenic beacons ” Ellenbogen West” and ” Ellenbogen East.” Since the elbow is a private property of Listland owners, the motorist has to pay a fee of about four euros when passing In the early morning, landscape photographs can be made well with the flat incident light, then the photographic equipment should already be set up, so that at the time of sunrise you are prepared. The early wake up will be rewarded with beautiful shots in excellent light and overall stress-free photography.
The island of Sylt in the north-western corner of Germany offers not only luxury vacationers but also nature photographers a lot of variety. The Wadden Sea, with its numerous bird species, wide Continue reading Sandy beaches on Sylt
I am standing at the entrance to a beach area in North-western Estonia, which I had already used to photograph migrating waterfowl 2 days ago. At that time already, I had the impression that a Reed-Warbler is singing in the background. But at that time, I had it “checked off” as a “normal” Reed warbler – maybe a Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris). Now I’m not so sure and play in the same place, the transition zone of bushes, old reed and beach from the song of the Blyth’s Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum). After a few seconds of melodies, the reaction is prompt. Loud and clear, the Blyth’s Reed-Warbler sings its tune reminiscent of anything between a Marsh Warbler and an Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina). I stomp through thick herb layer, stinging nettles, winter rinse and the reeds. A Blyth’s Reed-Warbler appears at an old, dried-up reed stalk and sings against the alleged rival. He sings in the middle of the reeds. Interesting: this is actually ruled out in standard field guide for Western Palearctic by Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson and Dan Zetterström. It then changes its perch and sits in a rowanberry. The reaction to playing the tape is prompt and unfortunately also associated with many site changes. Nevertheless, I use the time to look at this Blyth’s Reed-Warbler now more closely. He definitely looks much grayer than a Marsh Warbler. After a while, you also have the song in mind and can identify it very well. In Continue reading Blyth’s Reed-Warbler at Matsalu Bay/ Estonia
A rattling, gibbering call is thrown back from the high rocky walls in echoes. After 1 minute, the call is repeated. Carefully, I try to approach the noise source. Unexpectedly, a Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) appears between the boulders. After only two shots, the Ptarmigan is already disappeared.
In the middle of the mighty mountain range of the European Alps lies the province of Tyrol. Here you can follow untouched natural landscapes from the meadows in the valley over the alpine meadows and forests far up to rugged slopes in the high mountains.
Rugged peaks and countless, crystal-clear mountain lakes, which lie in the midst of idyllic pastures characterize Tyrol. Throughout the year, but especially in autumn, Tirol offers photo opportunities galore. They make every nature photographer’s heart beat faster. Tyrol is home to a typical bird species set for the subalpine and alpine elevations of the Alps in the upper mountain regions.
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), Common Rock Thrush or Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) are examples from the songbird comunity.
A summary rating of Tyrol is currently not possible. However, due to Continue reading Ptarmigan in Tyrol
The mountain meadows in the Vosges are very attractive in summer time. Beside birds of the alpine zone one sees some interesting plants like Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Mountain arnica (Arnica montana), Alpine Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla alpina), Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea). Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) are certainly the most common species of birds, but some rare bird species live in the cliffs and boulder fields as well. If you are lucky, you may spot the Common Rock Thrush or Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or other “high mountain species” such as Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris).
The scratching sound is unmistakable. Not necessarily the nature lover would consider this as singing. But that’s exactly what it is. With that, the Northern Wheatear is defending his territory. Although the Wheatear is not afraid to present itself openly, it is not so easy to spot the small, black and white colored bird on one of the boulders.
It is even more difficult to discover the Common Rock Thrush. Continue reading Alpine birds in the Haut Chaumes / Vosges
A misty and chilly morning. After weeks without rain, the drizzling rain kept going already for a while. A wet falcon was sitting crooked on a pole in some distance. Obviously not very comfortable in the rain. The view through the scope revealed a Eurasian Hobby (Falcon. subbuteo), also known as the Northern Hobby rested on a post with larger prey. In this position a Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) would be the first bet, if you are looking only superficially.
Often you will observe Hobbies in flight. Hobbies catch dragonflies and are hirundine or swift specialists, usually taking the prey by surprise in the air, and even dismantling and eating them there.
With its moustache and its rank, slender body, with blue-tinged slaty upperparts and black-streaked underparts which have a subtle buffy tinge these falcons should be not mistaken for any other raptor. But Continue reading Eurasian Hobby in the Belziger Landschaftswiesen
To photograph a male Great Snipe (Gallinago media) displaying on a lek in the wide-stretched lowlands of northern Middle Europe, was the target. In a project in collaboration with scientists from Estonian University of Life Sciences is was possible to perform this task in one of the remaining habitats which used to be so typical for this species. It occurred until the 19th century in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland and the lowlands of Sweden and Norway – sometimes in remarkable abundancy.
Whereas in the western parts of Middle Europe the loss and deterioration of important floodplain meadow and marshland habitat led numbers of Great Snipe decline dramatically, wide river valleys with extensive grassy meadows are still existent in the low-populated Estonia.
As mentioned, the main objective of a trip to Estonia was, to photograph the Great Snipe in its ancestral habitat, the lowlands of Continue reading Great snipe on a lek in Estonia
Dry Sahel seems to be a hostile living environment in the dry season. Nevertheless it is home to a charismatic species found across the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to the Red Sea coast of Sudan and Eritrea I Africa: the Black Bush Robin or Black Scrub-Robin (Cercotrichas podobe), an inhabitant of the hot arid subdesert and savanna with scattered shrubs or acacia bushes and groves of date palms.
During a Rockjumper-tour to bird northern Cameroon in April 2017, bird-lens.com also visited the wide Sahel belt in the northern part of Cameroon. Bird companions in the area going up to Waza NP are the Quail Plover or Lark Buttonquail (Ortyxelos meiffrenii), Scissor-tailed Kite (Chelictinia riocourii), Black-headed Lapwing (Vanellus tectus) and the Cricket Warbler or Cricket Longtail (Spiloptila clamans).
Normally shortly after we left the car, at least one individual of a Black Scrub-Robin could be detected in or besides the low, thorny shrubbery.
The Black Bush Robin is a long-legged scrub-robin with long, graduated and usually high-cocked tail. The nominate race is greyish-black, with black rump, wings and tail. It is said to be common or very common across the majority of its range. Within this range it is generally considered resident, although short-distance migratory movements evidently occur, as the species is documented as a regular winter visitor south to Ethiopia and Continue reading The Black Scrub-Robin, a rare Western Palearctic bird
Most people thinking about Austria have immediately snow, mountains and hiking in mind. A very different, but extremely interesting picture, is offered for the birder in Burgenland, in the area around the lake Neusiedl. The question is, however, is a bird paradise at the same time also a photographer´s paradise? The landscape in the easternmost tip of Austria is a typical Puszta landscape with numerous, small, flat salt lakes, the so-called “Lacken”, and a big water body but only one meter deep the Lake Neusiedl (German: Neusiedler See) or Fertő. With an area of about 320 km², which is almost half covered with high reeds, it is considered to be the largest steppe lake in Europe and has a decisive influence on the climate in this area. This is very mild in this region. Temperatures in excess of 30 ° C may already prevail in May. Fortunately there is almost always a gentle breeze. Otherwise when the breeze fails, the heat becomes unbearable.
Almost all year round is tourist season. We visited Lake Neusiedler in spring and summer, as well as in autumn, and found that the months April to mid July were the most interesting for animal photography. In early summer, the meadows around Neusiedler See are transformed into a colorful flower carpet. The autumn Continue reading Waders at Lake Neusiedl
If you are looking for the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) you have to memorize the typical chatter of this species, because the deliberately calling male Egyptian Goose does not hide. Originally native to Africa, the Egyptian Goose is no longer an exception in Germany.
Today, these sole members of the genus Alopochen are frequently found in many places. Its spread in Europe originated in Great Britain, where it was released. The population rapidly increased. As the English Channel is not a serious geographic barrier, it was only a matter of time before the first birds appeared on the European mainland. Since 1980, the Egyptian Goose has been established in Germany and its population has already reached an impressive size. Egyptian Geese now belong to the familiar inventory of many lakes and ponds.
The long-necked and high-legged Egyptian Geese are about 70 cm tall and weigh up to two and a half kilos. Male and female are same-colored. They show a pronounced pairing behavior. When Egyptian Geese lead young, they can be quite aggressive against observers or photographers. However, usually every bigger location has a pair that is particularly cute. Then even extreme wide angles can replace the longer tele lenses of 600 or even 800 mm.
Although usually the Egyptian Geese occupy a wide range Continue reading Immigrant from Africa: the Egyptian Goose
Right now, there is a large invasion of Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) recorded for Great Britain. The peak took place in fall 2017, and good numbers have remained during the winter months. With fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs in Britain, Hawfinch populations are critically low and the bird is Red-listed as a Bird of Conservation Concern, according to the RSPB.
On the continent – especially in the eastern parts, Hawfinches are not as rare as in the western part of Europe. But to photograph them, is tricky enough.
Hawfinches are notable for their bright brown-orange-grey colors and for their unusually large beaks and strong jaws. Hawfinches are real beauties. Famous are their beaks, which can shear open hawthorn, cherry and even damson stones. Like all finches, Hawfinches use the cutting edge at the back of their bills to hold a stone while they crack it open and skilfully extract the kernel with their tongues.
Hawfinches love to feed on hornbeam seeds. If you find a suitable Continue reading Where and how to photograph Hawfinches
In the age of digital full-frame cameras with a very fast autofocus, flight-shot photography is possible that used to be (almost) unthinkable only some years ago. Ducks starting trembling over the water were (and are) still quite easy. But who managed to photograph a flying Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)? Other land birds were usually only photographed at take-off. Seabirds, on the other hand, provide the best conditions to make shoot excellent aerial images quite easy. These birds are numerous, they are tall and therefore do not move too fast. At hatching, they appear on land – albeit often on fairly inaccessible shores. Besides, they are not shy at all in flight and approach sometimes on short distances.
These are a lot of reasons why seabirds are still favored by bird photographers today. They are the Continue reading Where to photograph seabirds in flight in the UK
In the 18th century settlers made the long, marshy lowland area of the Warta and the river Netze habitable. Individual farmsteads and villages from that time can still be seen from the dike of the Warta. None of the houses has no stork nest.
Today, only the diked areas at the Warta estuary reminds of the original landscape. The meadows between Kostrzyn and Slonsk are gradually being drained here via an old trench and canal system.
Today only a few farmers graze their cattle and horses here. Therefore, herbaceous thickets and willow bushes are increasingly spreading to many areas that have long been no longer cultivated in today’s national park. The easiest way to get to the national park is from Kostrzyn via the main road 133 to Slonsk, a larger village that used to have city rights in former times. After entering the village turn left at a grocery store to take the road to Przyborow. In this village, a paved road leads to the right of the paved road to a concrete country road, which ends for cars at a bridge with a sheltered hut. Behind it, the concrete runway meanders over three kilometers along the Postomia to the Warta. Another easy-to-access gateway starts at Przyborow, on the right off the main road, just opposite a simple shop. The bumpy side path leads down to the causeway along the canal, where Great Grebes (Podiceps cristatus) are often seen. Sometimes Red-necked Grebes (Podiceps grisegena) or Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) can be found there, and seagulls (Larus spec.) and Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) almost always Continue reading Land under water in Poland
The appearance of a black head mask or cap makes the Azorean subspecies of the widespread Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis atlantis) interesting. Although in the Azores several species of gulls of holartic origin might show-up, the best bet throughout the archipelago is always a Yellow-legged Gull.
About the size – a bit smaller – of other gulls of the genus Larus like the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), the identification of a Yellow-legged Gull of the subspecies atlantis is quite straight-forward, at least if you are looking for adult birds. The general tone of the plumage of the back and wings is grey. The wing tip is black with white spots. The throat, chest and abdomen white is white with a variable extent of black streaking on the head (the cap!). The beak is strong and yellow with a red spot almost on the tip. The legs are yellow – sometimes shining bright yellow. The eyes are white with a red orbital ring, which is even identifiable on some distance.
Although the Yellow-legged Gull is preferably marine, it also frequents other biotopes, usually on the coast, such as beaches, ports, marinas, beaches, coastal cliffs and pastures
These gulls nestle throughout the Azores in good numbers throughout the year. Look for them on the water-filled volcanic caldeiras as well. From time to time they like to swim and bathe in the sweet water of these lagoas.
The Yellow-legged Gull nestles mainly on the coasts of the Iberian Peninsula and France, on the islands of the Azores and Madeira and the Canaries, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In winter it is distributed along the European Atlantic coast, from Denmark to Western Sahara, and along the Mediterranean coast. On the sea, this Gull has a markedly coastal distribution, not moving towards waters beyond the continental shelf. Similarly in the Azores it uses the waters near the coast, and may be further from the latter in the post-nuptial period
Most of the population is sedentary and even young birds disperse relatively short distances. Some individuals can make wider dispersive movements and ringed birds on islands of the Atlantic were observed in the first two years of life in the United Kingdom, northern France, southern Spain and Morocco.
In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Western Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has undertaken dedicated trips to nearby and distant bird areas. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. Sometimes the yield of images is enriched by bird species, which are very unlikely to show-up in the Western Palearctic. The results in images even of rare Western Palearctic birds are very good. The beautiful image of the blog is only a first impression of what you will find in behind “Picture Shop” very soon. Simply contact bird-lens.com if you need an image of a bird before the newest images are online.
In early January, the weather forecast announced a Siberian high above the Mediterranean and the Italian west coast. After a few mild winters, the upcoming cold now seemed to reverse the trend of recent years. In fact, temperatures dropped on the Italian peninsula, especially in northern Italy and in the center of the southern Apennines lower than in the last 10 years.
The wetland Colfiorito in Umbria is located at about 800 meters altitude on a karst plateau in the central Apennines. Due to the altitude, snow and cold temperatures are not uncommon, but this year it was extreme. The temperatures were between -5 ° C and -12 ° C every day in the early morning and often remained below 0 ° C during the day.
The marshland was quickly frozen, and after a few days the ice was Continue reading Great Bittern at Colfiorito in Umbria
Swifts (Apodiformes) in the family Apodidae are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 13 species occurring in Cameroon. In a Rockjumper trip to Cameroon in April 2017, swifts were encountered almost every day with Little swift (Apus affinis) and African palm-swift (Cypsiurus parvus) being by far the most common. The best shots of Swifts and Swallows during the trip you will finde in the gallery “Swift and Swallows over Sanaga River in Cameroon” .
Common Swift (Apus apus) are probably the 3rd most abundant and could be seen and photographed especially in the lowlands near the Sanaga River close to Edea in the south-west corner of Cameroon. A gallery of flying birds of Sanager river – Swallows and Swifts – show the great potential for birders and photographers.
Numbers of Common Swifts are declining throughout Europe. A third of British Swifts e.g. have been lost since 1995. But the reasons underpinning this decline are unclear. Scientists of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO ) are involved in a project aiming to address Continue reading Swifts over Sanager River/ Cameroon
The fate of the Common Pochard is discussed intensively in the relevant forums. Scientific research suggests that the sex ratio of the populations of Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), a medium-sized diving duck, in Europe and North Africa has changed. This could play a role in the decline of the species in the Western Palearctic.
Sex ratio results have just been published in the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Journal Wildfowl. These conclusions show that populations are becoming increasingly “masculine”. Using the data obtained in January 2016, the researchers compared counts from surveys conducted in January 1989 and January 1990 in the same region. The proportion of men in the total population was 62% in the years 1989 to 1990 and in 2016 this disparity even increased to 71%.
Interesting clues for the pochard, a bird in a sharp population descent, provides an investigation of ZIMMERMANN, H. (2010), which was published in: Brut und Mauser der Tafelente Aythya ferina im Naturschutzgebiet Fischteiche in der Lewitz (Breeding and moulting of the pochard Aythya ferina in the nature reserve fish ponds in the Lewitz) in Orn. Newsletter Meckl.-Vorp. 46: 367-373.
The fish ponds in the Lewitz are a traditional breeding and moulting area of the Common Pochard in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Continue reading Pochard: a bird population in decline
This winter wildlife heaven is often full of birds. Probably the most spectacular (and noisy) are the thrushes and European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to feast on the unfrozen meadows. Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) winter out on the remote parts of the meadows, but will regularly hunt the lakes and wetland down to the shores of Blankensee. In the hawthorn and crab apple trees you might see Redwings (Turdus iliacus) and hundreds of Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris). Both Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) and – to a lesser extent – Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) over-winter near the Ungeheuerwiesen and occasionally drop in for a feed or even to spend the night. Frozen days might even reveal the usually shy Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) as it is forced to leave the cover of vegetation in the ditches to find something to feed.
An excellent stake-out is an observation tower on the south-eastern edge of the Ungeheuerwiesen. Photographic opportunities are ideal for flying birds. It results in options to take pictures of the birds from above as well as to take pictures at eye level. Continue reading Ungeheuerwiesen in winter
In the north of the island of Flores, there are two top birding locations, distanced only about 3km from each other. The one is the village Ponta Delgada to the east, a small site with less than 400 inhabitants, and the lighthouse on the edge of Ponta do Albernaz on the western edge. The lighthouse at Ponta do Albernaz is the most powerful lighthouse of the Azores.
The view is breathtaking, with the neighboring island of Corvo in the background. The lighthouse is accessed via an isolated roadway that extends to the western edge of Flores.
Here is the first point of arrival of the migratory birds to the island of Flores in fall. But Ponta Delgada is equally important for breeding seabirds. In Ponta Delgada, the small port and the old soccer field should be visited. The small port was productive and is always worth a view:
- Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia),
- Red Knot (Calidris canutus) and
- Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
were really good birds besides the 1 – 3 individuals of Ruddy Continue reading Birding at Ponta do Albernaz on Flores
Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) are mainly known as colorful breeding birds of the Arctic tundra of Eurasia and North America. The more colorful females advertise with conspicuous courtship flights around the males, which later take care for the offspring. Following the breeding time, Red-necked Phalaropes are pronounced migratory birds. Now they change to their simple black and white non-breeding dress. In small numbers Red-necked Phalarope migrate over Germany annually. About the migration routes and the wintering areas of individual populations, however, relatively little is known. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, it was known that most of the European Red-necked Phalarope winter on the open sea. The wintering areas are dotted in the tropical seas. Well-known wintering areas are known off the west coast of South America, in the southwest Pacific and in the northwest of the Indian Ocean. A well-known area lies in the Arabian Sea. Very late, it was discovered that even on the Atlantic off the coast of West Africa Red-necked Phalarope spend the winter. It is not yet known exactly from where Red-necked Phalarope on migration over in Germany are coming and in which winter quarters they are traveling. If one previously followed the theory that there are Icelandic breeding birds on a southeastern route to Arabia, it seems today also imaginable that birds from Scandinavia rest in Germany, which winter off the West African coast.
The breeding season of the Red-necked Phalarope starts in late May. Although the birds are now in their breeding plumage, the spring passage in Germany from early May to early June is not very noticeable. Far more noticeable is the autumn migration, which extends over a longer period from mid-July to October. Females, Continue reading Red-necked Phalarope: Migration in the Western Palearctic
Walking a steep trail in search of North-American vagrants under the high cliffs near the little village of Ponta da Fajã on the west coast of Flores eventually I came to a waterfall right beside the hiking trail. I took a rest and was surprised to notice some movement close to the constant shower of water. I looked through the binoculars and saw a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) feeding in the wet mosses on one side of the waterfall which falls down for 30 meters in a little pond. Quite a strange – and open – habitat for a Goldcrest. Obviously the main task was to search for food, but several times the bird raised the wings and it looked as if it was bathing under the waterfall.
Although quite a common bird on mainland Europe, this small, chubby and restless passerine bird (the smallest bird in Europe) is undoubtedly one of the favorite companions during hiking walks inside dense forests and natural scrub of the island of Flores. Its constant hissing, combined with its innate curiosity, make this bird an easy species to observe, as long as you are patience and listen to its high-pitched calls. Its nesting in Portugal is restricted to the Continue reading Goldcrest, bathing under waterfall on Flores
A white bird standing calm near the sea. It is the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta). A small heron. As you would expect from a heron, this bird is beautiful, graceful and shows long legs, neck and beak. A solitary and patient fisherman, the bird is waiting for low tide to make ambushes in still waters on the rocks. On other occasions, the Little Egret risk more and hunt patiently near the surf. As its name indicates this heron is small, of dimensions clearly inferior to Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) and the Great Egret (Casmerodius albus). Compared with the herons that regularly visit the Azores, only Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is smaller than the Little Egret.
All its feathers are white and limpid. On the chest they are longer and form a tuft, in a kind of bib. Also on the back of the head you can see two elongated plumes, but only during the breeding season. Its beak is black and straight and the eyes are yellow. The legs are also black, but the toes, quite characteristic, are bright yellow.
In case of doubt in the identification of this species in the field it is to be remembered that both the Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) and the Cattle Egret have the yellow beak. Although the legs are all Continue reading Little Egret at Ponta Delgada, Flores
The Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) is one of the few migratory passerines to be found on a regular basis to visit the Azores archipelago in general and Flores in particular. Maybe only the Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) of the subspecies leucorhoa, the Greenland Wheatear is recorded as often on Flores, the westernmost island of the archipelago.
The morning of the 11th of October 2017 turned to be sunny, but started quite cloudy and in the higher parts of the inner plateau with fog with visibility that was only 10 meters. On return to the northern coast I decided to pay the highest peak of Flores, the Morro Alto, a short visit. Still, at 10:00 moist atlantic air clouded the Pico da Sé. Wind was blowing and one little bird, brightly colored in a creamy yellow and some dominance of white in the wing plumage jumped over the volcanic gravel around the antennas erected on Continue reading Snow Bunting, a migrating passerine on Flores/ Azores
The general area of Fajã Grande has a great potential for Birdwatching. Die different habitats include lagoons, streams, woods, coastal areas, small pastures, agricultural fields and 1 little lake. This is a place of magnificent beauty. Take the parking spot on the road between 2 bridges and walk from the main road up to the lake.
By a pedestrian, partly steep path in good condition of less than 1 km you will come to the center of Ribeira do Ferreiro. Here is located a lake also called Lagoa dos Patos or Alagoinha. Numerous waterfalls are feeding a pond, used by ducks. This is also the place where you can observe the resident Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) which is called the Galinha-d’água in portugues. Considered a subspecies endemic by some authors, it has been Continue reading Common Moorhen at Ribeira do Ferreiro/ Fajã Grande
In the north of the island of Flores, there are some excellent birding locations. Basically these sites are between the village Ponta Delgada to the east and the lighthouse on the edge of Ponta do Albernaz on the west. The lighthouse at Ponta do Albernaz is the most powerful lighthouse of the Azores. The view is breathtaking, with the neighboring island of Corvo in the background.The lighthouse is accessed via an isolated roadway that extends to the western edge of Flores.
Here is the first point of arrival of the migratory birds to the island of Flores in fall. But beginning of October might be too early. Besides an Greenland Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) there was nothing special to see on the 3rd of October. We drove to the small village Ponta Delgada and behind a bend in the road we immediately noticed a dark slender bird with a long bill standing in ditch made by a water hole for cattle. With not doubt: a Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). Reluctantly the bird started to fly. Instantly calling it Continue reading Vagrant Glossy Ibis on Flores
Due to its stealthy habits the Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is one of the least observed regular birds in Europe. Essentially active at twilight and at night the Woodcock is the least known birds among the islands of the Azores as well. It is, however, one of the most unique species of the Azorean avifauna. The fact that Scolopax rusticola (named Galinhola in portugues) has different names on different islands, Cagarrona (Santa Luzia, Pico); passaroa (Terra do Pão, Pico); marreca (by several people in some localities of Pico) indicates, that people have something in mind with this bird.
The Woodcock is essentially resident on the island and breeding records are noticed from all the islands, with the exception of Santa Maria and Graciosa. Although the occurrence of migratory individuals (a bird was ringed in São Miguel in 2006 and recaptured a few months later in France), the real importance of these Continue reading Woodcocks on Flores
The Azores are well-known among ornithologists mainly for the fact that many American bird species occur, mainly in fall. Although this group of islands is part of the Western Palearctic (even Europe) on some islands, more Nearctic than Palearctic species have been found. In addition, several endemic taxa breed on the archipelago. The island group is particularly important for seabirds, which breed partially in large numbers. Migration of Seabirds in fall is another highlight. A sighting of a Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis) is guaranteed.
Before an offshore (pelagic) tour, however, you might save some time to visit the famous coastal areas of the different islands. An example is the wetland area in Cabo da Praia on the island of Terceira. From the beginning of September till end of October, the Nearctic waders are piling up: Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia), Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) and Dowitchers (Limnodromus sp.) you might see searching for food in the shallow waters of the bay. In addition, preferentially in the ports of the island, Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) can be found. The species has its most important breeding ground in the world in the Azores. However, a Continue reading Azores: birding in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Who wants to observe the huge accumulations of Common Cranes (Grus grus) in fall, will find excellent opportunities near the seaside resort of Zingst in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Zingst and Darß were declared a National Park in 1990 due to their natural coastline and the unique so-called Boddenlandschaft. Together with the Fischland, they form a peninsula in the course of the Mecklenburg coast between Rostock and Stralsund.
When we started the first exploration on an early October morning, the sky was still pitch black. We headed south and wanted to be in front of the cranes at the known feeding grounds. But when we reached the town of Barth, the sky was already reddened by the morning sun, and crowds of wild geese and cranes were already calling out loudly over the city on the way to the harvested fields for finding food. So we were too late. Nevertheless, we stopped briefly, because it was not possible to concentrate on the road, as we were fascinated by the spectacle of the birds in the sky above us. Continue reading Common Cranes in Zingst/ Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
The isle group of the Azores is particularly important for seabirds, which sometimes breed in large numbers or are found here during off-shore migration. Best in summer, but also in September and October, boat trips can give an impression of the importance of the sea area around the Azores with its unique marine ecosystem.
From the island of Graciosa boat trips start, each lasting a half to a whole day. The most dominant bird species in the waters around the Azores is the Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis), which is by far the largest of its breed species. But to expect more bird species that follow the ship. They are attracted by the smell-intensive mixture of sardines, fish oil and other delicious ingredients, the so-called chum. This is to lure some of the pelagic bird species. In September, for example, Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), a Cape Verde Petrel (Pterodroma feae), and a few Monteiro’s Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma monteiroi) near the boat could be observed in the waters around Graciosa. Particularly great is the pleasure when the sighting of Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata), a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) or of Continue reading Pelagic birding on the Azores
On the southern edge of the island Pag you can enjoy the ample stony lowlands of the island´s disorientating karstic landscape. With large, sideways eyes, the Eurasian Thick-knee peers into the twilight. It is still almost dark; only the first glimmer of the morning over the mountains on the coast of Croatia is visible. A family group of Eurasian Thick-knees stands quietly on the edge of a gravel road. It is the two parents and a young one. The feathers of the young Eurasian Thick-knee are still standing on and off on the head. As the car slowly approaches and then stops, the Eurasian Thick-kneee runs without too much haste into the wide landscape of the karstic steppe. A little later they are swallowed by darkness.
It is just a coincidence that on the way back, a revival is possible. A former farmyard is covered with higher grasses. Suddenly, one Eurasian Thick-knee appears. Before, the bird was so well hidden in the grass-stone mosaic that one of the Eurasian Thick-knee parents’ now stands only 10 meters from the car. The bird remains motionless. The reason is obvious a little later. A young bird with its up and down standing feathers on its head stands between the grasses. If the Eurasian Thick-knee parents were alone, they would Continue reading Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus) in Croatia´s karstic landscape
The White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) – initially recorded as Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) – from Lake Gülper was intended to be observed on Saturday, July 22nd. Already at 7:00 am I arrived after 2 hours’ drive at the southeast corner of the small village Prietzen at the south end of Lake Gülper. Some birders had already placed their cars along the road. But on Saturday morning nobody had seen the bird in the Havelaue already.
Since Wednesday, July 19, the White-rumped Sandpiper had been seen loosely associated with river Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) and a Little Stint (Calidris minuta) on the sands on the banks of the southern shore. The White-rumped Sandpiper was busily searching for food with little resting phases. The bird was steadily to be seen until evening.
The southern shore of Lake Gülper is, however, crowded in summer by thousands of resting geese, predominantly Greylag Goose (Anser anser). For longer periods of time, White-rumped Sandpiper could not be found between the Greylag Geese. Thus, e.g. on Friday, July 21, 2017 between 7:45 and 8:00 pm, the bird could only be discovered after a White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) had flushed all the Greylag Geese. Before that, he had not been seen Continue reading White-rumped Sandpiper in Brandenburg at Gülper lake
When the sun has set and dusk turns to darkness, a discreet purring is heard often over the heath in Brandenburg´s landscape south of Berlin. The rhythmic purr of the Eurasian or European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is increasing in volume in the background. The time lags between the purring of the Nightjar become shorter more and more. Finally, the male begins to patrol its territory. Slow, excessive wing beats enhance the impression of a relevant actor in the night theatre. It is beautiful to admire the white spots on the tail edge and the primaries. Only a few moment, this event takes place; then the Nightjar has disappeared already in the adjacent ash grove.
Like all members of the family, the European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is an almost exclusively aerial feeder that feed in continuous hawking flight, which may be rather erratic as they pursue their prey. European Nightjars hunts moths, beetles and Continue reading European Nightjar feeding habit
Soft contact calls reveal a woodpecker nearby. A view through binoculars: clearly a White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos). The white ribbons on the folded wings can be seen very well. He looks more like a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor). Only bigger. A short “giggle”. I realize that there are 2 birds. One is only a bit disheveled. Probably a juvenile bird. The other probably one of the parents. The two woodpeckers quickly disappear up the slope. I decide to go afterwards. After a good 30 meters, I wait. I play the contact calls from a tape. Also the typical long-lasting drumming is played to lure the woodpecker. But sorry, no feedback. It makes no sense to pursue the White-backed Woodpecker through the Croatian Karst.The slope looks very open right away. However, there is a lot of deadwood in the steep slope. In between are large limestone rock blocks, which also hinder a speedy advance. After all, a good sighting which really impressed me.
We had planned a mountain hike through the upper parts of the Paklenica National Park. Walking already for half a day through a very pretty mixed deciduous forest I was quite surprised Continue reading White-backed Woodpecker in the Croatian Karst Mountains
While the southern landscapes in Spain – like the Estremadura – are among the most popular photo destinations on the Iberian Peninsula, the mountains in the north, like the Picos De Europa, are largely unknown to many bird photographers.
On my travels to Spain mountainous birds of the Hochgebirge had been too short. They were at the center of a birding trip this time. The target species were: bearded vulture Yellow-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), (Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) and Citril Finch (Serinus citrinella).
During a break at one of the numerous clear streams I hear a wonderful melodic bird song. I quickly set up my mobile camouflage tent. This is a converted camping landruiser. I slowly approach the song. Suddenly a yellowish-green bird flies back and forth Continue reading Birdphotographie in the Picos De Europa
The Cricket Warbler or Cricket Longtail (Spiloptila clamans) is another excellent contribution to the portfolio of Western Palearctic birds for bird-lens.com. Although only recently encountered inside the boundary of the Western Palearctic this cute, small bird native to the Sahel region is highly welcome.
In April 2017, bird-lens.com went on a Rockjumper-tour to bird northern Cameroon. Coming from Waza NP on 10th of April, we arrived at Mora by early morning. The fields for birds were along the road just a few kilometres north of Mora. The small agriculture is done on a very sandy place. First the much-wanted Quail Plover or Lark Buttonquail (Ortyxelos meiffrenii) was on everybody’s mind, and we turned our attention to this species first. Although we started our walk at 7:15 AM, a long, hot walk expected us. Soon we were striding purposefully across the parched Sahelian landscape. We had to work hard, lining up and scanning the area. First we saw a Scissor-tailed Kite (Chelictinia riocourii) circling low over our hats, a handful of Black-headed Lapwing (Vanellus tectus) and good numbers of Black Scrub-Robins (Cercotrichas podobe).
Shortly after we spotted a very smart pair of Cricket Longtail in the low, thorny shrubbery. A short while after, another single Cricket Longtail was noted; it was restless and moved from one Continue reading Cricket Longtail sightings in northern Cameroon
A 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
After 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
Nature photographers, who visit the snow-capped central Finland in early April, might observe a very special natural event: the mating display of the Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix). If you want to take pictures of the mating display, you should go to Scandinavia for nature conservation reasons alone. For the last remnants of domestic populations the stress of photography is too high.
You have to get up early in order to get a good night’s sleep in the stable, well-insulated wooden cabinets with mattresses and old sleeping bags before daybreak. In the hiding place you have to be completely calm. Gradually, the cocks come closer to the snow-capped plain. A sound makes the presence of the cocks divine; It is a quiet cooing to hear.
In the morning dawn the first cocks of Black Grouse appear on the mating grounds . They announce their arrival with vigorous hissing. Then they begin to walk back and forth with little tripple steps. The wings grind deeply over the ground. They make rolling sounds. With sounds like this: “Kuluku -Lulluku -Kulluku”.
30 cocks run in front of the hiding places in quite a narrow area. If they come close to imaginary limits, they take an imposition. For two or three, they walk along the border parallel to the border. In such moments, they call particularly loudly. They try to force the opponent to turn back. Both cocks are hissing and spitting sounds when they try to persuade the opponent to repent. The images in the gallery show the vigorous fights of the Black Grouse cocks.
All this takes place according to a fixed “ritual”. If none of the Continue reading Black Grouse on leks in the snowy spring of Finland
It is cold in Germany. There had been snow the last few nights before. But now it thaws again. The air is cold and clear. The main part in a vast park cemetery is still as packed with a 5 cm thick layer of snow. Only the paths are cleared temporarily by a snow plow. Ok, this is already not a real winter, but there is snow and in between comes out even the sun. Ideal conditions for a walk in the park of the cemetery. On careful examination, there are encountered many blackbirds constantly in the cemetery over the winter. The population of the Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) seem to have increased again now with snow. Everywhere you see a dark bird flit from a side of the road to the other. Under each second (coniferous) trees the ground is intensively scratched. A regularity is not really visible. However, there seems to be a preference for conifers, under which twigs are intensively inverted. A short picking in the substrate and again…..
A park cemetery, which is not too neat is ideal. Winter food for Blackbirds but also Common Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) – besides what lies under leaves and scatter – is offered e.g. by the Barberry. The Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a nearly 3 meters tall, Continue reading Graveyard Blackbirds in the snow
A dam in the middle of the Sauerland in Germany in hazy weather with low-lying clouds combined with drizzle, wind from the west with in gusts 4 bofors at 8 ° Celsius normally is not the place to stay and watch. But this is the place to add a vagrant Yellow-billed Loons or White-billed Divers (Gavia adamsii) on the german birdlist. Yellow-billed Loons are highly thought-after species for the serious birdwatcher of continental Europe. And it is a big event, if a Yellow-billed Loon is observed so far inland in Europe.
Starting form December 13th of 2016 a juvenile Yellow-billed Loon was detected on the Diemelsee near Kotthausen. Striking were the yellowish and upward shifted massive beak, with a striking angled lower mandible. In addition to the brownish-washed body and the light head, the dark washed ear spot and the bright neck back were striking. For the next 2 weeks, the bird obviously loved the seaside resort at the height of the lido, from which a bunch of birder could observe the diver very well. Yellow-billed Loon mainly was constantly moving from west to east – maybe due to the winddrift from west. Then it flew back to the west to drift east. In between, extensive diving phases, then resting phases, were observed. Often the head was hold under water – to search for food. Despite an injury, the Gavia adamsii is apparently in good shape. Extensive Continue reading Yellow-billed Loon in the middle of Germany
A strong, white supercilium, blackish cheeks and long white submoustachial stripe on a Thrush in late fall might mean just a Redwing (Turdus iliacus). But sometimes, it is something different, something “better”. Dutch birders in Groningen were (almost) lucky to find a Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) yesterday. Unfortunately the bird was found dead on a table. Additionally ist was gripped by a cat. The bird was found in Beijum on the northern part of Groningen in the eastern-most province of the Netherlands.
The last Dusky Thrush in Europe I heard from, was detected on Scilly (GB) on Wednesday 26 October 2016.
The author of a report on a birdguides-article of a Dusky Thrush on the Islands of Scilly realized during a birding walk, that a distant thrush-like bird did not show the flanks of a Redwing and looked superfically like a Dusky Thrush. The the scope it was clearly visible, that the bird showed in general a blackish-and-white plumage with strong golden-brown wing-panel, black chevrons on white flanks, a flaring white supercilium, blackish cheeks and Continue reading Vagrant Dusky Thrush in Western Europe
The main target of the trip was the Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus). This uncommon resident breeder of the south-east corner of Egypt can be found sporadically from Gebel Elba down to the Somali border. The best place to see the species is at Bir Shalatayn. Here a dozen of these vultures can be seen feeding on the carcasses of slaughtered camels in and near the town. You might also see the bird near the coastal highway, feeding on road kills.
After having birded the mangroves at Hamata at dawn (with success for Crab Plover (Dromas ardeol) and Greater Sand-Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) and without luck for the Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)), we drove south to Bir Shalatayn (or just Shalatein or Shalateen or Shalatin) on the administrative border with Sudan. Bir Shalatayn is the southern-most spot most visitors can reach along the Egyptian Red Sea without getting a military permit. Calling it a town might be a exaggeration. It is said, that this settlement with – indeed – a strong Continue reading Shalatayn – birding in the south-east corner of the WP
A 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
This 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
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. 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
Spring is the best time to observe a flying or circling European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) on their breeding grounds. Now is Display time! Since the breeding birds arrive until the middle of May in the breeding area, bird watchers and bird photographers have to hurry-up to take pictures of European Honey-buzzards. This is because oviposition falls on the brink of May/ June. At the end of June / beginning of July, the youngs appear and at to the beginning of August fledging starts.
There are two periods of activity for the adult European Honey-buzzards: display and post-fledging. Display takes place in Germany from mid of May till early June. There is a time lag between spring migration observations and display flights. It seems, that on first arrival in early May the birds are rather lazy perhaps feeding and resting after the long migration. The lazy flight with long periods of effortless floating, interspersed with the very occasional stall or spell of active flapping, occurs over their breeding areas at this time. This can be misinterpreted as migration flight. In this time very impressive and repeated display flights – “butterfly display” – is brief and in rainy springs may not be conspicuous. In “butterfly mode” the European Honey-buzzard shakes its wings above back in rapid succession, usually six or seven times.
A good description you will find here. The author mentions, that Continue reading Display flights of European Honey-buzzards
In 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
A Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) on its perch is the image! Many nature photographers are keen on getting on – or more – of this. Highlight is action, which could mean feeding or diving for food. Between February and March of Kingfisher starts dating. Before Kingfishers are ready to mate, the female have to be brought into the right mood. For this purpose, the male woos his selected counterpart and offer presents, in many cases small fishes. Obviously feeding the female is a very important contribution to the pair bond. Nice photo opportunities are possible from a photo hide in der Feldberger Seenlandschaft in the northern part of Brandenburg. A lake called Hechtsee is full of fishes. End of April a pair of kingfishers could be photographed. At dawn first mating could be observed and photographed and in the course of the morning, at least threetimes feeding action could be photographed. Luckily for photographers feeding the female is therefore not only limited to the time prior to mating.
Up to 8 eggs are hatched alternately by the Kingfisher pair in a period of just three weeks. Until they get their full plumage, it takes Continue reading Common Kingfisher feeding female
A 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
Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) is a highly thought-after species for a central European birdwatcher. Lanner Falcons are the large Falcon in the Mediterranean region and in Africa. This Falcon is replaced by the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), a raptor widely distributed in warm-temperate zones from southeast Europe (mainly Hungary) and Turkey to the Central Asiatic steppes. The five species of large falcons (Falco sp.) which occur in the western Palearctic constitute one of the most impressive and exciting groups of birds in Europe. They have long attracted great interest and attention among ornithologists and non-birdwatchers alike.
The Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) breeds in western Palearctic from its northern limit in Italy with 100-140 pairs over Greece with 36-55 pairs, Turkey with 300-600 pairs to Armenia with 20-30 pairs. In the east the trend is unknown but the general perception is declining. There are 3 subspecies in the West Palearctic, with Continue reading Lanner Falcon for the western Palearctic
Already 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
Sunrise 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
Spoon-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
White-backed Woodpeckers (Dendrocopus leucotos) are always high on WP-birdwatcher´s lists. But the subspecies lilfordi is even a better mega bird. After having seen birds of the lowlands, I wanted to make the next day the big day for woodpeckers. Starting off very early, we noticed that the weather was however very misty with some little showers in the lowlands. When we ascend to the oak mountains we fear to be right in the middle of the clouds but encountered quite nice, dry but overcast weather for woodland birding. We drove all the way up inside Strandzha Nature Park, to the Silkosia Nature Reserve. This is a reserve up in the hills, just 15 km as the crow flies to the Turkish border. Silkosia is situated 2 kilometers north of Kosti village and 1 kilometer east of Bulgari village. Around 260 species of land plants have been found in the reserve. It conserves the most typical and relict Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis), which is a deciduous tree highly preferred by our main target species, the White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopus leucotos lilfordi). Other tree species dominate Continue reading White-backed Woodpeckers in Strandzha Nature Park/ Bulgaria
During migration and in winter waterfowl rest in good numbers on the Tegeler See (a lake just north of Tegel airport). A visit in late January performed with damp and cold conditions at temperatures around 0 degree Celsius. The shore is lined of a crumbling ice. No welcoming weather. No snow nor sunshine will improve the images. But very quickly, this does not matter. A wintering Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus) in the middle of Berlin had been observed due to a message on the local birding website Ornitho.de. This is an opportunity a nature photographer does not want to miss. The Great Malchsee is Continue reading Lake Tegel as a winter birding destination in Berlin
Having seen the Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) sitting in a snowstorm during a trip to Lapland and Finmark in northern Norway in early spring, I decided to pay more attention to discover this bird – which is called Great Grey Shrike, too – in the lowlands of Brandenburg in Winter as well. It turned out, that it is a good strategy to drive low-traffic countryroads in farmlands. Often you can see the bird sitting remoteless in a low birch wood, a hazel bush of a cherry tree along the road. It does not matter whether the fields are cultivated intensively or whether it is fallow land. Important is a object which can be used as a perch. Photography of Northern Shrikes suffer from the fact, that Shrikes are first of all quite shy, second have big winter territories and third perch on top of higher objects like trees, pylons of power lines. This means you often have a boring grey winter sky as a background. Additionally this position poses quite a challenge in terms of contrast and saturation of colors.
Numbers of the wintering population vary from year to year. It seems, that nowadays, the wintering population in Brandenburg has reduced, as severe winters appear to have become a something Continue reading Great Grey Shrikes in winter in Brandenburg
Only 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
Travelling 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
….no birds and no squirrels to hear around. Snow is falling. The table for the Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) finally is beautifully covered with snow. This gives great pictures from the Northern Goshawk – if he is coming. After a while, the first Chicadees are to be seen. First Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Great Tits (Parus major) and finally the rest of the bunch: Willow Tits (Poecile montanus), Coal Tits (Periparus ater) and Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus). All can be observed around the feeders filled to the top with grain. A little later, the first Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) arrives. At some time in the morning, there a intensively calling Eurasian Jays is to be heard. Is there about the Goshawk? Maybe just sitting in the neighborhood on a branch? Waiting for a secure situation to feed? Nothing to see. It’s almost midday and I’m already a bit discouraged. I am sitting here for more than 6 hours and I still have not triggered a single shot. Continue reading Patience for a G(h)ost-Hawk
Birding parks in big cities are often a stopgap in between two family arrangements. But parks are often good for excellent surprises. Berlin should result in a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion. I started from the flat of a friend at Prenzlauer Berg. Soon we arrived at a subway (U-Bahn) station at street level. We bought a U-bahn ticket for the westbound trip to Sophie-Charlotte Platz from where it is a short walk along Schlossstrasse to the Charlottenburg Palace. We had been told that the extensive gardens here are home to a pair of Middle-spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos medius), a species that we had seen only once previously. The huge park is said to be full of gorgeous flowers and birds. It must be very nice to walk along the streams in the shade of huge trees. Unfortunately it rained and we decided to wait a while. After some hours, the weather Continue reading Birding Berlin: Charlottenburg Palace
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
Soft 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
During 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
A 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
In 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
A 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
Spray foam feet high. The air is impregnated to the saturation limit in puccinellia. Metre-high waves crash against the craggy, rocky shores that extend indomitable and majestic into the air. Just having left the small fishing port of Tarbet in County Lairg, Highland in a calm sea, a beautiful sound between a rocky coast and a rocky island enchants the visitor. The crossing to the bird island is short-lived. The landing site is an unaffected looking, lonely sandy beach. But this is the east side facing away from the Atlantic sea. On the west side, the world looks very different. Sun rays breaking through the cloud cover giving the wild scenery wrapped in warm colors a melancholy charm. The air is filled with the piercing cries of a countless multitude of seabirds. Despite cold, wind and water they have set their breeding colony on Scotland’s west coast.
The visitor is first simply overwhelmed when the first rays of the wild scenery of moss and rocks give off warm colors wrapped in melancholy charm. In the distance the Continue reading Handa, a Scottish bird island
The late sun of the day still shines through some pine trees. The sun stays already very low, but is not yet set. A discreet purring is suddenly heard from a wood right in the heath landscape in front of me. The calls of the Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) are still much more dominant. But the rhythmic purr of the Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is increasing in volume in the background. Aggressive wasps and importunate little flies are bothering the attentive birder. The time lags between the purring of the Nightjar become more and more shorter. Finally, the male begins to patrol its territory. Slow, excessive wing beats enhance the impression of a relevant actor in the night theatre. It is beautiful to admire the white spots on the tail edge and the primaries. Only a few moment, this event takes place; then the Nightjar has disappeared already in the adjacent ash grove. A short time later, you can hear the singing of the Nightjar from a stationary point of view of right behind the site I am sitting. It is time for a investigation. The search reveals a Continue reading A night in Brandenburg heath: The Eurasian Nightjar
In 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 high level of noise prevails especially in the breeding season on a typical bird cliff. Right in the middle an attentive observer might discover a colorful, stocky fellow with bright orange feet and beaks. Resting on the edge of the cliff, as if it is not concerned of all the fuss. This is the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). You can see Puffins often in more or less large groups standing on rocky outcrops. Observing this bird for a while, you might see how a puffin after another flying – in a bumblebee-like flight and then gladly land to join its peers. Not only for the tourists this is a very popular species. So elegant and skillfully Puffins act underwater, so clumsy they act on landing and when staggering on the cliffs. That is why Puffin gain this special benevolence of many tourists of bird colonies. He acts as the needy comedians among seabirds, which you simply must give his sympathy.
Often you can see Continue reading Puffins, the black-red-white clowns of bird rocks
Sun rays are breaking through the foliage and the twigs of an inner-city park in Northern Berlin. Just 3 km distant to Berlin-Tegel airport, some of the most reliable sites for Northern Goshawk (Accipter gentilis) can be found. A hint in the birding community, “…. look for trail behind the hill, then 100m to the east and scan the bigger pine trees for the impressive nest..” made me birding the parks around Tegel in mid June. Big city parks may be often just a stopgap in between two family arrangements, but parks are often excellent habitat to get an first and fast impression for the woodland species of a foreign country. Berlin with is many park is no exception. Some of the parks are small, but others are huge parks. All are full of gorgeous plants, trees and flowers – and birds as well. It is very nice to walk along the trails, some near the streams in the shade of huge trees.
After some searching at that morning I decided that a big bird in the canopy of a tall pine Continue reading Female Northern Goshawk at nestsite near Tegel airport
After 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
Described in old literature as a rare vagrant, the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is much less rare in NW Europe nowadays. It is not yet clear, whether this is due to the numbers of birders in the field, increasing knowledge of the immature and adult female plumage, migrations watchpoints or due to a change in the migration patterns of this bird species. At least on the coast and in the eastern parts of Germany Pallid Harriers can be regarded as scarce migrants now. Visiting the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – very interesting observations of a hunting immature Pallid Harrier could be made. The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch are an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect habitat for raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Western marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) visit the area Continue reading Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland
Having booked a snowmobile-trip with Nordkyn Nordic Safari AS to the fjell-region south of Mehamn (the most northern fishing town of the world) to enjoy the snow-covered nature of this beautiful nordic countryside and to have a look for the first arrivals, arrivals of birds coming back to their breeding grounds. Already before starting the trip, there were rumors of a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) hanging around in the area we were supposed to visit. Local people and winter enthusiasts had already enjoyed the sightings of at least 2 Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) in the past months around Lake Skillevatnet. The area is only on 260 meters above sealevel (asl) and is highly frequented by snow-mobiles and other winter activities which bring hordes of people to this otherwise snow-covered loneliness. As they say, that the Snowy Owls hang around since several weeks, it seemed obvious, that the Owl had adapted to some kind of human disturbance. Anyway, I hoped for a chance to have a glimpse on the Snowy Owl.
In the beginning of May, we started the trip in the evening at the office of Nordkyn Nordic Safari in Mehamn to prepare and pay the scenic ride over the mountains. When we arrived at the site, from where the snow-mobile were supposed to start, we heard already the high trilling calls of the European Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria). The days before, it had been warm already, very warm Continue reading Snowy Owl on snow-covered plateau in Nordkyn/ Norway
It 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 (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
During 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
Photographing White-throated Dippers (Cinclus cinclus) in the natural habitat normally means to shoot on a black bird with partially white underparts with nesting material in the beak for the nest building. These are the classic photos that you see of dippers. They fly preferably to and from exposed spots, as stones outstanding on the water. Fast flowing, clear rivers and streams have become rare in all over Europe due to the increasing changes in the landscape and the pollution in our latitudes.
But if you find such a river or a stream, you might be lucky to watch a bird which is not really striking in terms of appearance and plumage coloration. The life – however – is so unique that it has a special place among our native songbirds. It is the White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Almost the size of a Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) it shows a short-tailed, plump, dark brown body with a white throat.
The main food White-throated Dippers lingering year-round in its breeding habitat provide water insects, especially mayflies and caddisflies (Trichoptera). White-throated Dippers hunt them at the bottom of a shallow river or stream. To gain access to this food source, White-throated Dippers dive underwater or run on the bottom of a river. They can swim Continue reading Dippers – photography along streams and rivers
Although it is said, that kleptoparasitism (or cleptoparasitism) is relatively uncommon in birds, some Skuas – as the Great Skua (Stercorarius skua), Jaegers – as the or the Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) – and Frigatebirds are famous of taking prey from another bird that has caught. In this case, two White-tailed Eagles – a juvenile and an adult individual – were observerd and photographed.
White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) are able to detect prey from a very far distance, and then a small dot in the sky very quickly transforms into a giant bird of prey swooping down from a great height. The White-tailed Eagle catches – its impressive claws already Continue reading Cleptoparasitism between White-tailed Eagles
Dancing Great Bustard (Otis tarda) at dawn. That must be a great photo project. The courtship is an incredible spectacle. The male Great Bustard transforms himself into a large, white ball of feathers. To do so, he turns the brown, patterned flight feathers out so that the white underside and the white feathers of the elbow face upwards. Than the tail flips up to the back and shows only the white down feathers. On a morning in mid March everything seems perfect. After a period of bad weather, it had cleared the day before and the weather forecast had announced freezing temperatures. When I left early in the morning, the sky was filled with stars. Not a cloud covered the sky and of the temperatures were in the minus degrees – as promised. One of the areas for the Great Bustard is a good half hour away from the my home town. The morning sun had cast a strip on the eastern horizon Continue reading Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany
Almost 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
In the depths of Norwegians winter forest I stroll in the pitch darkness over a small path. It is just 6:00 am. I woke up early to visit a Goshawk photography hide with Ole Martin Dahle. During a very successful Eagle photography session in November 2013 I made my first attempts to shot the Goshawk with my Canons. But in vain. This time is late winter and I am about 90 minutes earlier on the way to be in the hide prior to activity time of the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). The night before it has snowed. Now the air is cold and the land lies under a thin, icy snow. Ideal conditions for the Goshawk Photography. We travel a narrow road out of the village and a short time later Ole place the car at the edge of a pine forest. Now it is time for the walk through the pine forest. The path is just poorly lit only with a meager torch light. Soon we are in the spacious, well-isolated cabin. Good thing, that I brought enough tripod heads. These are each fastened with a large wing nut under the window. The “loopholes” of hide are now equipped with the lenses, cameras are mounted and secured: Ready! Meanwhile Ole prepares the table with a Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus)-bait. The bait is draped on the table, that it looks as if it is laying on the forest floor.
Now everything is ready for hard-core photography. It is now 5:45 am and it is completely dark in the closed pine forest. In the dark I hear the first bird: a Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula). At about 07:00 am the forest looks something brighter now. But no birds and no squirrels far and wide to hear. It begins to snow. Luckily no rain. The table is beautifully covered with snow. This gives great pictures from the Goshawk – if he is coming. Well, at first light Continue reading A sacrifice for a Goshawk – winter photography in Norway
Today a Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) has been recorded again near the mouth of the river Eider in Schleswig-Holstein. The Eagle strays around in the so-called Moetjenpolder with the nearest village Hemme not far away. The bird was seen in the Moetjenpolder by a photographer who took images more by accident. Some observations could be made from the observation tower “Rehmer Moor2m which is east of the village of Rehm. The eagles is cruising from to time to time of the Lundener Niederung. The ealge was observed the first time on march 11th 2015. Sometimes it is flying not far from the observation tower, but it is also resting for prolonged periods Continue reading Greater Spotted Eagle on Northern Sea coast of Germany
Yellow-billed Loons or Yellow-billed Divers (Gavia adamsii) are highly thought-after species for the serious birdwatcher of continental Europe. And it is a big event, with lots of hot telephone wires, if a Yellow-billed Loon is observed inland in Europe. This happened recently due to a Yellow-billed Loon which was observed near the small city of Goerlitz in the southeast corner of Saxony/ Germany. The bird could be seen for well 2 month on a lignite mining lake, called Berzdorfer See (lake). The distance to the next water, which you can call a sea, is roughly 400km away. I did not manage to travel there.
This time I was successful to see and photograph a Yellow-billed Loon on its “right” winter habitat. Because Yellow-billed Loon overwinter with some regularity on the west coast of Norway, it was Continue reading Yellow-billed Loon between the archipelagos of Flatanger
Bean Geese on their wintering grounds near Berlin. The Havelaue west of Hohennauen – north of Rathenow – is a vast plain of the North German lowlands. In January, the landscape was – at temperatures around 0 ° Celsius – under a thick blanket of foggy clouds. The air was humid and cold, and the country is very quiet. Abundant rains in recent days have flooded the meadows. Some parts of the meadows and pastures are under a thin layer of crumbling ice. The river Havel flows in the background.
End of January some 100 Geese, mainly Bean Geese (Anser fabalis) could be seen not far from the road from Hohennauen to Parey. Obviously, the geese came in search of food to the fields and meadows. The preferred resting grounds must surely be in the polder Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Havelland near Berlin
Terns 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
On 11 December 2014, the first information boards for the Natura 2000 bird sanctuary “Bergstrasse Dossenheim – Schriesheim“were presented to public by the Chairman of the BUND Dossenheim, Dermot O’Connor. The press is coming soon. When designing the images for the info panel – inter alia the Wryneck (Jynx torquilla), Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Grey-faced (or Grey-headed) Woodpecker (Picus canus) and Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia). BUND Dossenheim chosed images from www.bird-lens.com. Bird-lens.com is proud to present these photos as part of its efforts to strengthen the importance of nature conservation in the region.
Dossenheim is a municipality in the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis in the north-western part of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Dossenheim is located just 80km south of Frankfurt/ Main main station and thus reached by car in less than an hour’s drive.
The so-called Natura 2000 Vogelschutzgebiet is a Special Protection Areaa according to the EU-Birds Directive. The reserve has a size of 916,13 Acres. The Bergstrasse Continue reading New Natura 2000 bird sanctuary: Bergstrasse Dossenheim – Schriesheim
Early morning, 5:30 am. After a coffee in front of the small chalets, we will start for the first full day Malawi expedition. The typical east-african birds are our main interest. At 4:30 we have got up already. The starry sky promise a nice day. Great atmosphere. In the background the last lights of stars and to the east the very first morning light. Still in almost dark we walk to the car. And right in the beginning: the Birds are good. I start the engine of the Landrover, switch on the headlight and… startle a bird in headlight cone right in front of the car surrounded by pitch-black darkness. The bird stands still, obviously dazzled with our headlamps. A small, grey-brown Quail (or something like this) just sits on the ground. We get out of the car and try to dazzle the bird additionally with a hunting spotlight. But this is too much. The bird flies away. But we find it back. The students are very excited and try to encircle the bird. I follow them with the camera and a flash. Yes, the images reveal a male Small Buttonquail of the sub-Saharan African subspecies epurana. It is called Kurrichane Buttonquail in Continue reading Small Buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus) for WP-portfolio
Photographing the most colorful ducks of the world in 10-minus-degree temperatures in February at the northern tip of Europe sounds crazy. Well, whether it is crazy or just stupid is a matter of your point-of-view. But all can agree, that it is real Arctic Adventure. The one or the other vagrant Eider might arrive in front of coast of The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark. But this is a rare event. In contrast these birds are very common in the north of the Western Palearctic. On Varanger/ Norway www.bird-lens.com was able to shot nice pictures of King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), right from a floating hide in the middle of the harbor of Båtsfjord, Varanger. It was the 1st full-year in use and bird-lens.com was able to photograph not King Eiders alone, but also Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and gulls in 5 Continue reading Eiders in the Frozen
Lignite 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
The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – as an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect winter habitats, especially for wintering raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and sometimes a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) use the high diversity of the meadows , pastures and fields around to pick up their food. The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a feeding guest, too. Unlike the species mentioned above, he does not keep up with mice but tries to chase the many Geese grazing in the area. Unfortunately, he also attacks some of the precious Great Bustards (Otis tarda).
Morocco, one of the northernmost countries of Africa is a top tourist destination. Morocco is situated in the northwest corner of Africa and is basically an African country with a large Mediterranean region along the coast. Additionally Morocco might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but, Morocco offers surprisingly good birding in various habitats. Morocco is one of the favorite destinations for birders in search of endangered or rare species of the Palearctic. Many birds are generally endangered and rare or are species which are rare in Palearctic because their main distribution is mainly in the core lands of Africa. Anyway, birds such as Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus), Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae), Marsh Owl (Asio capensis), Levaillant’s Woodpecker (Picus vaillantii), Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus), Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti), African Desert Warbler (Sylvia deserti), Moussier’s Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) and the Desert Sparrow (Passer simplex) are a real must for the keen birder.
Morocco offers sandy deserts of the Sahara, high mountains of the Atlas mountain chain and coastal strips along the Atlantic. The most exotic part is certainly the Sahara Continue reading Desert Sparrows in Morocco
Berlin 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
Happy 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
The 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
Berlin, 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
A report of a Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) from the Northern Sea, maybe Heligoland, would be the Mega of the year. Even better, than the Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) which spend several weeks around the sea bird colony along the red cliffs on this sole off-shore island of Germany. In general observations of pelagic or oceanic birds are rare from the Northern Sea. Too shallow and too much secluded from the open big oceans, reports of seabirds of the Northern Sea normally refer only to some sightings of Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) or Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). Reports of Continue reading Black-capped Petrel in the western Palearctic
A Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) was reported end of May 2014 in the Offenbach district. During an inspection in the Nature Reserve Gehspitzweiher in Neu-Isenburg a warden suddenly observed a predominantly white, gull-sized bird. Looking for food the bird circled over the water surface and finally rested on the island in the lake. It quickly became clear Continue reading Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica): 2014 record in the Rhine-Main area near Frankfurt
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have some more spare time but only 2 hours between two flights, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical European birds.
One of these sites is the best riparian forest 60 km south of Frankfurt, called Kuhkopf or in German Kuehkopf. The nature reserve (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue) is the largest in Hesse, with Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – NSG Lampertheimer Altrhein
Spending the yearly vacation this time in the Netherlands, it was possible to look for birds as well. Besides an observation of an adult Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) north of Callantsoog in the newly established nature reserve “The Nollen van Abbestede”, I could see a lot of young birds – the so-called pulli – of various birds on the sea shore.
Identification of Pulli – young birds in general – not only on the coast of the Northern Sea – is not an easy task. Sometimes you are lucky with the „Handbuch der Voegel Mitteleuropas“, by Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim. For waders some useful information you will find in “Strand- und Sumpfvögel Europas – Einschließlich Nordafrika und des Nahen Ostens”by Wolfgang Makatsch. Some nice information with images of clutches, locking jaws, dune-plumage, some photos of the nursery of the birds you will find in “Vogelnester : nach Farbfotos erkannt” in the selection Sauers Naturführer by Dr. Frieder Sauer. Besides that, there are little comprehensible images Continue reading Pulli – young birds on Northern Sea Coast
Migration season starts in Germany right now. One of the best places to see especially the early fall migrants – the waders – is the old sewage farm in the north of Muenster, called Rieselfelder Munster. Early morning, 6:30 am. Still dawn. Haze over the water and I am watching through a well located hide here on the edge of the best lagoon, called E1. Waders are my main interest, but I would not complain, if an early Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) or Continue reading Moorhen chases Snipe at Rieselfelder Munster
At 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
I am now back from a trip to Bulgaria for quite a while. As I wrote already in the Bee-eater-Blog, the main purpose was to photograph European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster). But as I mentioned in the recent blog, Bulgaria is full of wildlife which could be found relatively easy. As most of the mornings were spent with Bee-eaters or in a hide for Eurasian Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus), evening photo sessions quite often were spent roaming along country roads in the car and photographing any birds I encountered. I came up with pretty good results. There were many passerine birds present. I came across with Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina), Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor), Continue reading Eurasian Wryneck and other birds in Bulgaria
I am just back from a trip to Bulgaria. The purpose was to photograph European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) during a busy young feeding period. Honestly this was the main target of the trip. The birds had arrived in Bulgaria for quite a while. Thus feeding of the young were almost finished. Feeding on their breeding tube. This was a bit disappointing. However I still had good photo opportunities of this incredibly adorable birds.
I decided to spent at least four days with these colourful birds. Thanks to the help and advice of a friend who worked the area one year ago, I easily found a good site and decided to pitch a tented hide. This on top of an escarpment of a sand pit. There were also sandbanks next to the Bee-eaters colony. But the perspective on top was best. To my delight 2 or sometimes even 3,4,5 birds were landing on a perch, flying away, landing again. What a spectacle. There was plenty of action.
As the Bee-eaters are more active feeding early in the morning, I decided to come back at dawn. This time I set – up my hide before the sunrise and to my big relieve birds started to turn up again with the first light. As the name suggests bees are on the top of the menu for bee – eaters, but they are chasing dragonflies, Continue reading European Bee-eaters in Bulgaria
Although the capital of Germany, Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature, too. In addition to the natural richness this is a legacy of the division of Germany, which has prevented the city´s spread after the end of the 2nd World War like in no other city. This means, that even today you often have to pass the city limits only in order to stand in the middle of nature. One of these areas is the Nature Park “Lowlands of Nuthe and Nieplitz”. The small rivers Nuthe and Nieplitz are located south-west of Berlin and form Continue reading Bearded Tits south of Berlin
After reports from the island of the Greifswald Oie earlier in the year and from the off-shore island of Heligoland there were increasingly Continue reading Blyth’s Reed-Warbler on Greifswald Oie
After having visited the Carpathians of Slovakia in April mainly for Hazel grouse photography, I wanted to observe different birds in the same area. In preparation I ordered a birdlist of the species from a local guide which birds might be possible and got the Continue reading Tripreport Carpathians of Slovakia, June 2014
Spending the yearly vacation this time in the Netherlands, it was possible to look for birds as well. While looking for information on birding in Holland, we came across www. http://waarneming.nl/ and www.birdingholland.com, a website for guided birding in the Netherlands. Very helpful is the website http://vogelkijkhut.nl although not all sites – especially the newly created ones – are described.
No real target birds in that time of the year. An early returning migrant on the “wrong” side of the Atlantic Ocean would Continue reading Tripreport Noord Holland June/ July 2014
According to a report from waarneming.nl a Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), a species from the birds family of the Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) could be observed on July 1st 2014 near Heemskerk in the Heemskerker Noordbroekpolder than in Heemskerk in the Waterberging Noorderveldjust south of Castricum. After the Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) at the coast of Noord Holland between Den Helder and Callantsoog the 2nd rarity in Continue reading Next Rarity for Noord Holland – a Glossy Ibis
Right 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
The Neusiedler See and the area to the east of the lake the “Seewinkel” is an internationally important breeding, resting and wintering ground for many bird species and is home to some large populations of bird species that are rare in other parts of Europe. Especially the numerous so-called “Lacken” are characteristic of the Seewinkel. “Lacken” are salty pans and ponds. Shallow standing waters with increased salinity, which regularly dry out in Continue reading Lake Neusiedl: Rare birds in June
According to reports in Ornitho.de and Club 300.de there is a good chance that bird watchers and Twitcher of the North Central Europe can increasingly observe Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum) comparatively to the west.
After reports from the tiny island of the Greifswald Oie and from the off-shore island of Heligoland now comes a message from Continue reading Blyth’s Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum) in north-east Germany
Although recent research and an action plan by SEO regards the Dupont‘s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) as highly on risk in Almeria, this area is still worth a try. This Lark is probably one of the highly thought-after bird species if travelling to and birdwatching in southern Spain. I photographed it in mid May 2002. First choice for this lark in southern Spain probably is Cabo de Gata. This is a Parque Natural with almost 50,000 ha (exactly 49,696 ha). Cabo de Gata comprises a Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO. In general this large area extends from the western side of Cabo de Gata around to the eastern coast as far north as Carboneras. For birdwatchers the best sites are the sierra of Cabo de Gata, the salinas of Cabo de Gata, and a series of steppe areas, of which I tried Las Amoladeras which is Continue reading The Dupont‘s Lark at Las Almoladeras in Spain
There is proof of a Eurasian River Warblers (Locustella fluviatilis) around Idstein in the Taunus region about 40 km north from Frankfurt city center. The area is called the “Hintertaunus”. According to a report in Continue reading Eurasian River Warblers discovered near Frankfurt
We flew in from Kerry airport Ireland and landed at Hahn to met by Johannes Ferdinand from Bird-Lens our bird guide. During our stay we had no rain, some cloud in the mornings and plenty of sunshine all day. We saw a total of 113 birds including lifers Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris), Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), and adult Black-necked or Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) and Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). Johannes had organised our trip to Continue reading Irish Bird Trip to the Frankfurt area in Germany; 16thMay-19th May 2014
The family of Eagle-Owls (Bubo bubo) on the Hundertwasserhaus in Bad Soden is still very active. The 3 youngs have now moved their focus of activity to the slope opposite to the breeding tower, the so-called Dachberg. Not always to the delight of neighbors they change from the canopy of the trees sometimes on the rooftops and jump on the gables of the roofs of the houses around. Doing this, they call Continue reading High-spirited Eurasian Eagle-Owls rumble on houses roofs
Since several weeks notable guests can be seen in a small, tranquil town at the edge of the Taunus near Frankfurt. It´s a family of Eurasian Eagle-Owl
(Bubo bubo). Mid of April 2014 a representative of the NABU in Bad Soden, Mr. Guenter Sieper, was called that a young owl was staying on a terrace of the Hundertwasserhaus, a house built by the famous architect Hunderwasser. Die local conservancy initiative NABU drove immediately out to find the Continue reading Great Eagle-Owl near Frankfurt/ Germany
Occasionally, I drive a lonely country road along. Right beside the road a gravel pit, excavated only in the back part, can be found. The mine is located in a flat agricultural area. Scenic beauty is only revealed to the connoisseur . Many walkers or joggers therefore do not pass by. Once, I passed by with the car and parked next to an embankment. Flying Bank Swallows or Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) could be seen on and near their breeding tubes only a few meters away. They did not felt bothered Continue reading A gravel pit: home for Sand Martins
A sunny morning, clear sky, the air filled with songs of birds, a steppe-style open county area with excellent outlooks, riparian woods. This could be a morning in the Weilbacher Kiesgrube. The area is located near the town of Weilbach, which is only 20 km west of Frankfurt city and not far from Frankfurt Airport. Gravel mining took place since the 60th of the 20th century. A portion of the resultant landscape was reclaimed and is now home for many bird species. In a smaller part of the pits, the area was filled again and a park was created. In other parts the pits were not filled. Instead, this area has been designated as a nature reserve. From small watchtowers, visitors Continue reading Weilbacher Kiesgrube, a birding paradise near Frankfurt
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.
One of these sites is the best riparian forest 60 km south of Frankfurt, called Kuhkopf or in Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue
Based on a message in Ornitho.de in the beginning of May I when visited the Schiersteiner water works in the vicinity of Wiesbaden in the Rheingau region. This area is about 50 km west from the Frankfurt city center. A singing Reed Warbler had been seen. Maybe a nice photo opportunity. Shortyl after arrival at least one individual of an intensively singing Great Reed-Warbler was found . The individual was singing all the time – as shown in the photo. It showed-up repeatedly on the high stalks ends of last year’s reeds in a water pond called “the Lagoon”. The water body is easily detected from the flood dike. The shooting Continue reading Observations of a Great Reed-Warbler in the Rhine Valley
The 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
With the beginning of spring, the days get longer and the birds awaken to seemingly new life. For the males now the time of the highest activity begins. Everyone is keen to conquer a territory and find a mate. For this purpose, the birds have developed a variety of optical and acoustic methods, and specific behaviors in the course of their evolutionary history.
Singing is probably the most common type of attracting a mate among birds. In contrast to the calls produced by both sexes and which can be heard all year, singing is usually presented only by the males during the mating season. Many of our native birds here in Germany, such as Robins, Tits or Blackbirds start to sing already in late winter. Thus they are among the most striking signs of spring. Then gradually new voices add to the concert Continue reading Birds in courtship and singing behaviour
In total we visited 5 different locations where the local guides had encountered several individuals of the Hasezl Grouse the last weeks or even years. The last encounter sometimes was only 3 days before. 4 of the locations were locations like a lek – where you could hear the mating song and the mating Continue reading Hazel Grouse: the results
Additionally finding Hazel Grouse means knowing the behavior of the Hazel Grouse. E.g. the Hazel Grouse is – although a shy bird – quite responsive or even aggressive during the mating season which has a first peak in September and then again in March/ April. In this time you can hear the mating call or mating song of the male. Best is the time in the early morning, but actually they are calling/ singing the whole day – in the right mood in the right environment.
The search for direct and indirect references to the Hazel grouse is difficult due to its hidden and secret life.
The classic approach: visual observations. Many people Continue reading Hazel Grouse: the hide
Finding Hazel Grouse is equivalent of knowing the habits of the Hazel Grouse which means also knowing and recognizing the habitat of the Hazel Grouse. The search for the right habitat is not eased by the fact, that the Hazel Grouse has at least 3 different habitat requirements during the year in the different seasons. In general the Grouse prefers the following habitat structures. Young forest stages with pioneer forest character. A high percentage of soft wood species like Continue reading Hazel Grouse: the habitat
Hazel Grouses (Bonasa bonasia) are certainly one of the most thought-after bird species for naturalist and bird photographers in western Palearctic. This is in parts due to the fact, that this bird is one of the few autochthon representatives of the Phasianidae family in Middle Europe. And: actually it is a very beautiful bird. Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately for the keen photographer – it is a difficult bird to observe or even photograph. In so far, not too many images are available, especially photos of the Continue reading Finding Hazel Grouse in the Carpathians
Bird 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
The sun is still high in the sky, although it is almost 6:00 pm. As far as the eye can see : steppe, interrupted now and then by eroded rocks . Above the ground , the air shimmers . In the car there is indescribable heat. After last year’s winter precipitation had failed in the Extremadura, everything looks withered. And yet it teems with soil insects, especially grasshoppers. It let the routes appear in a green. Dark- gray colour. Again and again Continue reading Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) photography in Extremadura
While searching for the Green-winged Teal which still can be seen on the pond E1 in the sewage farm Münster, I was also able to observe and photograph a successfully hunting Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) a young Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus).
With binoculars I watched from the hide at the entrance to the E1 and saw gulls, ducks and waders. There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls in the area, some already in courtship mood, some mating. Suddenly a tumult arose and the sky was filled with white Continue reading Common Black-headed Gull hunted by a Peregrine in the sewage farm near Muenster
After a message on Ornitho.de I decided to visit the sewage farms in the north of Muenster. A Green-winged Teal, a close relative of our European Teal (Anas carolinensis) was said to stay for a few days already in Muenster. The duck was in the area of an old abandoned sewage farm. The species has been seen since at least the 16th of March on the pond named E1. From the Rhine -Ruhr region, the sewage farm is easy to reach and the sewage ponds – the Rieselfelder Muenster – are famous to reveal rarities especially in the spring season. The area is a real birding hotspot. First, there was nothing to see but the sheer numbers of ducks. Gadwalls (Anas strepera), Continue reading Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) near Muenster/ North Rhine-Westphalia
During a visit on a fairly high mountain in the Taunus first mountain chain, the Atzelberg, in early March it was possible to observe and photograph the copulation of a pair of the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo). On top of the Atzelberg there is a lookout tower, which gave the perfect position to photograph this unique event. The mating season begins usually in early spring in Middle Europe. During the mating Continue reading Mating of Common Buzzards on spruce top
My first attempts were not successful. The very reliable Wallcreeper wall in the town of Alquezar in Aragon revealed a Sparrowhawk instead. In search of this elusive high mountain dweller I payed attention to an article by Dave Gosney from 19th of find March 2008 on ” Birding abroad“. The article is titled: “Finding Wallcreepers in the Sierra de Guara“. The Sierra de Guara is a mountain range south of the famous Ordesa National Park in northern Spain. The peaks Continue reading Wallcreeper in the Sierra de Guara in Northern Spain
For long I have been looking for Wallcreepers (Tichodroma muraria). Observations – or even photos – from the Wallcreeper are my dream. I’ve been days hiking in the Alps in the Karwendel mountains, in the Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan, in the Carpathian Mountains. I was hiking at high altitudes and took a lot of efforts, but up to now I missed these high mountain dwellers. Since I am not alone. The Wallcreeper is actually one of the most sought-after birds in Europe. The Internet although is a help. One problem is that there are many places where Wallcreeper supposedly live. The catch is to find a reliable site. The trip and the spending should be worth it. This is true not only for breeding areas but particularly for wintering grounds. So I was glad to find an article by Dave Gosney from 19th of find March 2008 on “Birding abroad”. The article Continue reading Sparrowhawk at Wallcreeper cliff in Alquezar in Northern 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 for 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
In Germany it is almost a dying experience: the sound of Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) in early spring. The indigenous population in the Rhoen – a mountaninour area in the middle of Germany – is almost extinct. Only in the Alps a vital population still survives.
If you want to take pictures of the Black Grouse in courtship, one should trip to Scandinavia – also from nature conservation point of view. It is not acceptable to expose even the last remnants of native populations to the stress of photography. In the spring of 2013 I was travelling in the vicinity of the Gulf of Bothnia to Oulu in Finland. During a workshop near this northern part of the Baltic sea in Finland from 5th – 8th of April 2013 I shot images of a hunting Great Grey Owl but also of Black Grouse. Early in the morning you have to be already in the wodden hides, which are lined up in front of a snowy area shining white in the cloudless dark sky. Gradually, the male Grouse come closer to their mating grounds. You can already hear their faint cooing.
More and more they move closer to their display site. In early March at the latest the first grouse cocks are in place on the lek sites. In the snow you can still see feather streaks from their wide-spread wings and traces of jumps of the previous days. Every male bird has its defined territory and a timely arrival might prevent battles. Nevertheless, after a short while many different fights are to be observed. Some cocks fight with almost everybody, others only defend their territory. This is often associated with a corresponding loss of feathers.
The black grouse lek lasts from mid-April to mid-May. During that time the display activity of the cocks is hightest. They fly to the lek site already an hour before sunrise, in May even two hours. The morning display lasts about five to six hours and proceeds in two stages: in the twilight and after sunrise.
Last year’s young and those older male birds that could not manage to defend their territory keep to the edges of the lek sites, display only for short periods, move around and often feed. They may visit several lek sites during this period.
If there are not displaying, the grouses can be seen in birch tops. They look like black-feathered bundles. In spring birch buds are a major part of the diet of the grouse..
The cooing of male Black Grouse can be heard in October mornings, too. The autumn bubbling of grouse cocks can be heard at the same lek sites as in spring. Only rarely a grouse hen appears in the lek site. Ornithologists explain the autumn display by the fact, that the daylight period is again as long as at the beginning of the spring leks in March. This might affect the hormons of the males, inducing lek behavior. This is something, which also happens with other Gallinaceous bird species like Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia).
It is in October again when you can observe these impressive birds on undisturbed forest roads in Scandinavia. They are pecking at gravel from the ground. In their stomach the little stones grind the ingested food. Until now they have been feeding on forest berries. But it will not take long before they have to change to the winter diet.
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 in Finland to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The operator´s name of the workshop is Finnature. It is highly recommended. Most of other workshops run by Finnature – a tour operator based in Oulu – take place in January/February for a period of 2 – 4 days.
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.
Grey Partridges (Perdix perdix) share a hard life with many other birds of fields and meadows in nowadays agricultural steppes. One a common bird, encountered in many rural areas, this nice bird of the family of the Phasianidae, the Pheasants, Fowls & Allies is becoming more and more rare. But there are still some places where it is possible to enjoy an encounter.
In one of my regular trips through the Continue reading Grey Partridges in winter in Lower Saxonia
The vagrant but long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) – a first for the Netherlands – can still be found on the same location. As you can see on the website of the birding community in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” this 1st winter Shrike near the German border between Doetinchem and Emmerich still attracts twitchers and ornithologists. The bird has been present in Netterden – in the Netterdensche Broek – in Gelderland for almost four weeks now. The Brown Shrike had been found near Gendringen at the January, 18th 2014, in the utmost south-east of the province of Gelderland not far from the German border. So far, this individual has being quite cooperative and could be seen in beautiful sunshine yesterday February 12th 2014 sitting Continue reading Brown Shrike still in Gelderland/ NL
During a visit to a hide in front of a winter feeding station near the small town of Salzhemmendorf some 40 km south of Hanover in Lower Saxony, I was lucky enough to see a leucistic male Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and I could shot some photos of the bird. That was on January 30th 2014. I saw this unusual Common Chaffinch along with some of his conspecifics and some Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla). The regular bunch of birds at a winter feeder as Tits, Nuthatches, Blackbirds were present, too. The male Common Chaffinch with the interesting color distribution seemed to be a bit more shy than the other birds at the winter feeding . But he was neither bullied Continue reading Albinotic Chaffinch at winter feeder in Lower Saxonia
Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) close-up in a puddle while bathing. The photos on the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” were really sensational. The Sunday before, I had made already for a short trip to an area nearby for the long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). The Brown Shrike was a first sighting for the Netherlands. So rare Parrot Crossbills are not, but this year seems to be an irruption year. After visiting the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl”, we decided to look for these rare Crossbills which are seldom found in Central Europe. The target area was not far from the German border south of Nijmegen. The Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) had been present for several weeks on the border between Limburg and Gelderland already. Parrot Crossbills are currently to be found Continue reading Parrot Crossbills drinking in a pond in Mulderskop/ Limburg
During a short trip to experience the long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) – a first for the Netherlands – we made this remarkable sighting. After visiting the sites of the website of the birding community in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” we decided to head for this vagrant Shrike near the German border between Doetinchem and Emmerich. The bird has been present in Netterden – in the Netterdensche Broek – in Gelderland for more than two weeks now. The Brown Shrike had been found near Gendringen at the January, 18th 2014, in the utmost south-east of the province of Gelderland not far from the German border. The first-winter individual has being quite cooperative and we decided we wanted to see it. The regular range of the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) extends from central Siberia over Kamchatka, Sakhalin and northern Japan. In the south it extends to the Altai Mountains, Mongolia, Manchuria and Korea and China. The habitat is the boreal and arctic zone and steppe and desert zones and mountain regions. Thus an observation in the Netherlands is a real exception.
We arrived there at 14.30. Heavy clouds were on the sky, but it was not raining. After a while, the bird was sitting in some small tree and thorn bushes opposite a gravel pit, just 300m away from us. What a bird. A first for the Netherlands and a bird also very rare for the Western Palearctic. Some Images of proof you will find in the Gallery.
This Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) showed his striking Continue reading Brown Shrike in Gelderland near German border
3 individuals of the Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) – which are named Eurasian Bittern, too – can be seen now already for several days. The Bitterns obviously winter on the waterworks in the Schiersteiner pond area near Wiesbaden. At least three specimens could be seen on a beautiful, mild winterday on the January 17, 2014 between 10:00 to 12:30.
Already at the last weekend some birders were on the site. But the sunshine on the January 17 seduced the Bitterns to leave their dense habitat in the middle of the reed and to show very exposed on the fringes to the waterline. Good time to photograph very well. Patience of course is still needed. Some individuals are stationary at this site since at least the 31 December 2013. On the first observation day 1 Bittern could be seen on the pond system III (the easternmost). Afterwards it was seen landing on a gravel island, on the so-called “Lagoon”. Also on the January 17, a Great Bittern flew from the pond system III to the gravel island in the “lagoon”, checked the situation from as short as 15 meters behind the fence and disappeared in the reeds afterwards.
When I arrived at around 10:00, a thick downpour had just cleared and the sun broke through the clouds. 2 Bitterns could be seen freely on the northernmost of the pond basin system III at the reed edge. They were sunbathing. But the distance was unfortunately still far. A little later another Bittern appeared on the southern pond of the basin system III at the reed edge. This Bittern also started sunbathing. Then suddenly, Continue reading Great Bittern in Schiersteiner water works near Wiesbaden
Currently, an unusual visitor from the south of Europe can be seen in an area of Rheinhessen between the cities of Gruenstadt, Worms and Ludwigshafen. The distance to Frankfurt am Main is only 100km in south-western direction. The bird is a Eurasian Griffon – or Griffon Vulture – (Gyps fulvus). The Vulture has been detected in the area on 02nd of January 2014 . Most Birder observe with spotting scopes from the concrete field roads that run through this intensively used agriculture landscape. The last days, the vultures could be observed in a field between the suburbs Obersuelzen and Obrigheim. The area is intensively used by wind farm deployments – as you see in the images.
After days with mild but rainy weather the forecast for Sunday afternoon was quite favorable and I took the chance to photograph in a sudden clearing of the skies some shots of the Eurasian Griffon sitting on the ground of a field, which later took flight. A few pictures can be seen here. The Vulture is not an particulary shy, but you should not startle the bird and additionally the rain has extremely softened the fields and the field roads not fixed with a hard surface. Photo distances are therefore to be bridged only with a long tele lens.
When I arrived on Sunday, 5th of Jan. 2014, it was very cloudy. The bird sat quietly in a field and was only occasionally harassed without haste by some Carrion Crows (Corvus corone) flying over the big bird. The Crows seemed to be quite friendly – at least compared to the behavior when a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) showed up. Fiercely this raptor was attacked. The griffon vulture was found not worried. Only now and then he scratched the bill with his legs. As the sun came out, he find Continue reading Griffon vulture in the Wonnegau in the middle of Germany
There is still a last year’s (since 1.1.2014 ) Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) in the middle of this Danish fishing port. The gulls sits often on the kai, which can be reached from the northern side street of Kai Lindberg Gade. Sometimes it sits on the 2.5 meter high perimeter wall on the northern edge – unfortunately positioned directly against the bright sky. But sometimes it also flies around in the habour.
After many Birder visit the site over the weekend between Christmas and New Year, I could now see the seagull very well on New Year’s Day 2014 and photograph it well. A Danish Birder fed them occasionally, with fish remains and this is perhaps why it is there quite steady .
Ivory Gull at least in the middle of Europe is anything but a familiar sight. And also if you look at the their breeding range e.g. Spitsbergen / Svalbard, it is still not easy to photograph a specimen close enough. The birds are not extremely shy to humans, but they often stay in their breeding area on inaccessible areas.
Here in the fishing port the photographic conditions are Continue reading Ivory Gull in the port of Hanstholm, Denmark
Eurasian Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, are usually thought-after species for the wintertime photographer. These colorful finches are now increasingly observed at the feeding tables when wintertime proceeds. Last year they could be seen with other wintering birds at the feeding sites, too. The favorite food of the birds observed in recent winters is a product made from beef tallow and fat oatmeal mixture. In many regular stores they are selling the birdseed. But the laid sunflower seeds are eaten alike. Particularly striking is the highly aggressive behavior of the bullfinches to each other. If multiple birds are in the same area, the same table of food, photography is often not possible, because as soon as a bird is flying to the feeding place, it is already chased away from the next. Especially the males are sometimes quite aggressive. Due to the shooting conditions in winter you are shooting at slow shutter speeds sometimes. Here you can make a virtue of the necessity. At 1/ 30 sec , the Finches are only dimly seen. To show the dynamics of the dispute is all the better advantage. This is beautiful to see in the Gallery. Too long exposure times, however, are not appropriate since then only colors can be seen.
It is always a fascinating experience, when not only the Bullfinch arrive at the bird table, but also Robin (Erithacus rubecula), Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Tits (Parus sp.) and Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) and sometimes even Continue reading Bullfinches: White-red-black balls in action
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