Vogelzug am Stockert in der Eifel

Haubenmeise in SchleheEin schöner Tag im Herbst. Indian Summer wie er im Buche steht. Diesmal soll es in die Eifel gehen, zu einem Berg, der Stockert genant wird und südlich von Euskirchen gelegen ist. Hier kann man den Vogelzug der am Tag ziehenden Vogelarten sehr gut beobachten. Es war noch dunkel, als ich ankam. Das erste Vogelgezwitscher konnte aber bereits gehört werden. Es waren vor allem Meisen, deren Rufe noch in den Bäumen zu hören waren. Dann ging es sehr schnell. Innerhalb weniger Minuten waren die Büsche voll. Natürlich waren vor allem Kohlmeisen (Parus major) und Blaumeisen (Cyanistes caeruleus) in den Schlehen und Hagebutten zu sehen. Ein wunderbarer Kontrast zu den blauen und roten Früchten, die übervoll an den Zweigen hingen. Die Zugunruhe hatte offensichtlich auch zwei Spezies von Meisen gepackt, die in der Regel nicht mit der offenen Landschaft, sondern eher mit Nadelbäumen in Wäldern in Verbindung gebracht werden. So waren gut 5 Tannenmeisen (Periparus ater) und auch mindestens 3 Haubenmeisen (Lophophanes cristatus) zu beobachten, die für eine Weile auf den Ästen einer Schlehe ausgeruhten. Nur kurz – ca. 2 Minuten – dann waren sie wieder weg.

Beim Beobachten und Fotografieren war klar zu erkennen, dass das Zuggeschehen in vollem Gange ist. Gesang und andere territoriale Verhaltensweisen waren selten zu sehen und beschränkten sich wenn auf den frühesten Morgen. Was für ein wunderschöner, früher Morgen an einem sonnigen Tag. Allerdings ziemlich kalt in den ersten Stunden. Dazu ein wahres Vergnügen – auch unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Ornithologie. Zusätzlich Continue reading Vogelzug am Stockert in der Eifel

Bird migration at the Stockert in the Eifel hills

Crested Tit, resting in sloe

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

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

The Northern Goshawk – aerial shots and more

Northern GoshawkWhen scanning images of the portfolio of bird-lens.com it was noticed that the Northern Goshawk is still significantly under-represented . Therefore locations were actively scanned which are known to be frequented regularly by Goshawks. For this purpose sites near wetlands were visited especially in late summer or fall, where many (larger) birds rest and / or moult and are therefore available as prey for inexperienced, young Goshawks. Here, I could see and even photograph a young female Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) approaching me within a few dozen meters. As a result you can see some pictures of this wonderful Northern Goshawk in flight. So strong and breast -heavy like the bird on the pictures in the gallery, the female Goshawk can be differentiated easily from the Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) by size alone.

Other images were shot from an elevated vantage point in the forest. You need time and patience. But then you see pretty easy that Northern Goshawk breeding pairs are territorial. It was also shown that the nests are evenly distributed in the suitable breeding area. Breeding birds defend the environment of their nest within a certain radius, which should not exceed 1km.
Outside the breeding season, territorial behavior is observed, too. Other raptors as the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) shown on the images are vehemently attacked. Especially adult males show a year-round commitment to the nest area and defend their territory. On the other hand young female Goshawks, independently roaming in others territory as shown in the picture apparently penetrate easily into foreign territories.

The Northern Goshawk is about 45 to 67 cm in length and has a wingspan of about 130 cm. The female is larger than the male. The adult plumage is brownish gray on the back and consists of a white chest which is finely barred black. Young birds are brownish until the first moult on the upper side. The barring on the breast is replaced in young birds by a streaking or a line drawing. The stripes can be found Continue reading The Northern Goshawk – aerial shots and more

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

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

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

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

Euro BirdWatch in Switzerland

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

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

The locations and details Continue reading Euro BirdWatch in Switzerland

Kites slow wind power expansion not only in Germany

Black KiteConservation initiatives and strictly protected birds of prey such as the Red Kite, Milvus milvus prove as a barrier to wind power development not only in Germany. As in Germany, the situation is in Austria. Near the new wind farm which is under construction on the outskirts of Grosskrut, Mistelbach district, an ornithologist in Austria discovered the endangered raptor. Right through the of the almost finished towers of the wind farm flew a Red Kite, Milvus milvus. As well as the Red Kite a Black Kite, Milvus migrans, was hovering over the fields around Grosskrut. Later the ornithologist could spot even a young bird of the Red Kite.

Not only in Germany, people discover a new view to nature. The ornithologist described above stood up for years against the construction of wind turbines and has therefore developed to a conservationists. Consequently, evidence photos and descriptions of the observations were sent to the Birds organization “Bird Life”.

The Red Kite was already the subject of frequent blogs on www.bird-lens.com. Thus e.g. here or here. The Red Kite is a characteristic bird of Central European landscapes. Although about 65% of the world’s population of the Red Kites are found in Germany, Austria is home to a healthy population, too. For full-time ornithologists sightings of the kites are not uncommon. Although the Red Kite was formerly located mainly in eastern Czech Republic to the Marchauen, the bird spreads out now in the neighborhood of the WEinviertel (Wine quarter) near Vienna. One commenter in a local newspaper Continue reading Kites slow wind power expansion not only in Germany

Milane bremsen Windkraft-Ausbau nicht nur in Deutschland

Black KiteNaturschutz-Initiativen und streng geschützte Greifvögel wie der Rote Milan, Milvus milvus, erweisen sich nicht nur in Deutschland als Hindernis für den Ausbau der Windenergie. Ähnlich wie in Deutschland (s. Blog) ist die Situation in Österreich. In der Nähe des in Bau befindlichen neuen Windparks am Ortsrand von Großkrut, Bezirk Mistelbach, entdeckte ein Ornithologe den auch in Österreich vom Aussterben bedrohten Greif. Mitten durch die fertiggestellten Türme des Windpark flog ein Rotmilan, Milvus milvus. Der Rotmilan schwebte über die Äcker rund um Großkrut ebenso wie auch ein Schwarzer Milan, Milvus migrans. Später konnte dann sogar ein Jungvogel des Rotmilans gesichtet werden.

Nicht nur in Deutschland entdecken die Menschen ihre Natur neu. Der o.a. Ornithologe macht sich seit Jahren gegen die Errichtung von Windkraftanlagen stark und wurde aus diesem Grund zum Vogelschützer. Konsequenterweise wurden dann Beweisbilder und Beschreibungen der Beobachtungen an die Vogelschutz-Organisation „Bird Life“ geschickt.

Der Rote Milan war ja schon häufiger Gegenstand der Blogs auf www.bird-lens.com. So u.a. hier. Der Rotmilan ist einer der Charaktervögel der mitteleuropäischen Landschaften. Etwa 65% des Weltbestandes des Rotmilans kommen zwar in Deutschland vor, aber auch Österreich Continue reading Milane bremsen Windkraft-Ausbau nicht nur in Deutschland

Keoladeo National Park, a paradise also for Western Palearctic birds

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

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

Hoopoes on Fuerteventura

As the plane gained altitude and the rugged, steep cliffs of the Canary Island of La Palma disappeared more and more in the haze, I decided to come back. Was it the allure of warm semi-desert with cactus like their spurge, the rugged caldera in the northern part of the island, which had thrilled me so, or it was the most overcast, cool bay-rainforests in the center of the island? Maybe it was because of the loud booming of the frogs that filled the night in the subtropical atmosphere. Eurasian HoopoeHowever, it could also Island Canary (Serinus canaria), also commonly known as the Canaries, the endemic subspecies of our chaffinches, the La Palma Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs palmae), the Canary Islands Pipit (Anthus berthelotii), the nasal flight calls of Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis) have been, or were there in the end, “only” the graceful Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops), which unfortunately I could not take pictures again as I had planned it all along?

Anyway, in the fall of 2011, I visited the Canary Islands again a visit. This time was the turn of Fuerteventura and now the Photo luck finally seemed to be on my side:

On a remote poultry farm with a lot of rotten and rusty agricultural machines, more precisely, on and around the corresponding dunghill with its many small, hidden, white grubs, not two, three Hoopoes had gathered – no, there were not fewer than 9 individuals. Running busily back and forth, they punted “nervous” in the soft decomposition products around. The birds often pushed the beak from the side, i.e. with inclined head in the manure inside. The beak is very sensitive to tactile stimuli. The reaction is a rapid collapse of the beak. When the tactile grip managed to feel the prey the caterpillar was swallowed as a whole. Hoopoes impress between meals like by placing her bonnet and tail compartments. If they threaten, they are spreading their wings in addition. This happened often with so many competitors for food in such a small space. Then aggressive reations are inevitable. So it was not surprising that the hoopoe with his usually horizontally carried rear bonnet fanned the bonnet suddenly when a conspecific rival dared to go through the accepted distance. In an extreme case, a bird raised the optically effective defense by increasing the body by sudden turning of the wing on the ground at the same time spreading the tail.

The image shown here succeeded Continue reading Hoopoes on Fuerteventura

Dancing Great Egret in morning fog

Egrets in fog are a great motif. By the white color , the herons have always something mystical in the morning mist. White creatures are often used in myths and legends to serve as leaders to a different world. White deer, white horses and white rabbits are probably the most common associations for magic and are often brought into connection with fairies and other magical figures. To see a heron flying out of the fog in the first dim light of the early morning is a magical experience. The plumage of the Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) has a brilliant, pristine white. They seem to act as messengers from world far away from daily business life. The slow wing-beat has a unique beauty. If they stand patiently on the hunt in the shallow water, they are looking very majestic.

Great EgretIn nature only very few things are of pure white. Well, there are milk and snow , and of course white birds. A long time human being had to live with earthy tones, before technical progress brought us bleach and white color. White in the natural environment was unusual and therefore all the more fascinating .

There was no white heron in Germany when I was a kid. In general, there were very little egrets or herons. Herons were followed up in the 80s as a fish predator. The name “Fischreiher” (fishing heron) for the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) can be found even today in zoological textbooks. The Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) has spread only in the last few decades in Germany. The population is on the rise in Germany for about twenty years. First as a winter visitor the first nest could be detected in 2012 in the north of Germany. The first definite breeding record for the egret in Germany involved two couples who had settled in a colony of Grey Herons. Egrets are not part of traditional fauna of the country. The people , therefore sometimes mess up identification with storks and cranes . Of course, the Herons do not dance – just as those shown in the gallery – nor does the Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) dance on the images but they do follow each other. For fun or to secure their feeding territory? Who knows?

The Great Egret is the heron with the largest geographical distribution. It is found on all continents except Continue reading Dancing Great Egret in morning fog

Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Grosser Feldberg

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.

If you have the time and you can use a car, you should consider a trip to the Taunus Mountains northwest of Frankfurt. The Grosser Feldberg is only the most reknown – and due to easy access by a curvy road – the most visited of the Peaks of the Taunus near Frankfurt

In dense fog and strong north-western wind on the morning of the 7th of October 2012 38 Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)  could be seen around the hightest summit of the taunus, the Grosser Feldberg. (Gr. Feldberg> 26 ind.; in the little town of Oberreifenberg nearby: 12 individuals). In general the time in September and October is excellent to see the active Migration of many bird species.

Generally March and April are best for viewing woodpeckers as Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Grosser Feldberg

Red Kites slow wind power expansion

Red Kite

Conservation initiatives and the strictly protected red kite, Milvus milvus prove to be the biggest obstacles to wind power development in Germany . The ambitious goals of both the current federal government and especially the red-green state governments are in danger .

In particular, the requirement to use increasingly forest sites as locations for 200 -meter high wind turbines, met with criticism. One example is in Baden-Wuerttemberg. In the focus of the current debate is a forest about five hectares in size to be cut down in the middle of the “Great Hau” at Horb in the Black Forest to establish windmill farm. But the forest is not only a popular recreational area, it is also home to many protected animals . For decades, the forest has been converted to quite a natural forest, which is particularly rich in species. Again there are the Red Kites that curb further expansion of wind power .

In the specific case at least it did not take long until a citizens’ initiative formed against the plans of the town of Horb . There were information-events, petitions and a forest festival, visited by hundreds of citizens. Also, the Conservation Assosiation “Nabu” rejected the site due to nature protection reasons. However, the city was fiercely determined . “We knew that only the Red Kite can help now,” said a representative of a local conservation initiative. In fact, the initiative could rely on the strictly protected raptor. Today, the wind farm project is stopped. The authorities in Karlsruhe gave priority to the protection of that species .

The case Horb illustrates the dilemma for the green-red state government. In the second year after the change of government nothing can be seen from a wind power boom. Just nine plants were built in the Southwest in 2012. From the target to increase the proportion of wind power in the country from 1 to 10 percent by 2020, Green-Red is miles away. And especially nature conservation activists and protected species such as Continue reading Red Kites slow wind power expansion

Images of birds for science & public; Western Palaearctic & the World