Heavy influx of migrating White-winged Tern in Germany

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

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

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

Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Wagbachniederung:

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

One of these sites is the best riparin woods 110 km south of Frankfurt, called The “Wagbachniederung” . This location is situated on the right bank of the Rhine at Waghaeusel southeast of Speyer between Mannheim and Karlsruhe. The Wagbachniederung was formerly a loop of the Rhine, which was separated from the main Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Wagbachniederung:

Canon EOS 1 Mark IV, ein Erfahrungsbericht

EOS-1D Mark IVAls (nach 25 Jahren) unzufriedener Nikon-Fotograf hatte ich Gelegenheit ein völlig neues fotografisches System zu suchen. Da ich mich weiter in Richtung Vogelfotografie entwickeln wollte und die neuen Kameras bei Nikon aus den o.a. Gründen nicht zu Verfügung standen, habe ich verschiedene Alternativen bei Canon gesucht. Als Vogelfotograf habe ich mich auf das Ablichten möglichst vieler Vogelarten für wissenschaftliche Zwecke spezialisiert. Zuerst habe ich meine Bedürfnisse genau geprüft. Ich laufe viel in den unterschiedlichsten Gegenden, im Gebirge auf 2.500m NN oder im Regenwald.

Das Gewicht der Gesamtkombination spielt also eine große Rolle. Zur Disposition stand eine gebrauchte Canon 1D Mark III, die Canon EOS 7D oder die Canon EOS 5D Mark II oder eben das damalige Top-Modell, die Canon EOS 1D Mark IV. Die EOS 1D Mark III schied aus, weil die Berichte u.a. in Dforum über die Autofokus-Probleme zu eindeutig gegen diese Kamera sprachen und auch die Canon EOS 7 D wurde in den Foren m.E. zu negativ bzgl. des verwendbaren ISO-Spielraums diskutiert. Blieb also noch die Canon EOS 5D Mark II als Alternative. Um meine Wahl abzusichern, nahm ich die Gelegenheit wahr, mir über GM-Foto in Frankfurt eine Canon EOS 1D Mark IV zusammen mit einem Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM auszuleihen und ein Wochenende zu testen. Eine Canon EOS 5D Mark II konnte ich von einem Freund ausleihen. Der Vergleich ergab, Continue reading Canon EOS 1 Mark IV, ein Erfahrungsbericht

Greater Spotted Eagle over Germany

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

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

Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, in Finland

Great Grey Owl low over snowDuring a workshop near the northern part of the Baltic sea in Finland from 5th – 8th of April 2013 these excellent images of a hunting Great Grey Owl were shot.

Wow, what an excellent bird. Just imagine, like this bird is sitting in a tall tree or on a barn roof concentrating to hunt on a vole on the floor which is 100 – 300 meters distant under 20 – 30 cm thick, insulating snow. This in spite of all kinds of ambient noise in the surroundings.

The Great Grey Owl, which we – the participants of the workshop – were able so observe and photograph on several mornings. This would by no means apply to all owls in that area. I guess we have been lucky now in early April. Most of other workshops run by Finnature – a tour operator from Oulu – take place in January/February for a period of 2 – 4 days. Since these owls do not accept feeding with dead mice, you are dependent on the mercy of the right places / times.

Not at least for aesthetic reasons photographing the hunting of voles in the winter landscape with a mix of forest and meadows is the best. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee of photographic results. The most important is, to locate the right place (and the right owl), then to find the owl in the landscape, then to be a patient person who can stand it – sometimes for 1 hour – at -10 ° Celsius to stand in the snow and hope that this bird is hungry enough for hunting. There is no time to waste, Great Grey Owls are nomadic Continue reading Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, in Finland

Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) on Varanger, Norway

Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni)Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni)

During observations to the northern part of Norway from February 28th – 3rd of march 2013 I shot images of a very pale gull, what I thought at that time was a regular adult Iceland gull. But I showed the image – more by accident – in the BirdForum and one of the experts asked for more pics of that bird to verify if the seemingly dark grey outer webs of P9-10 are real or just a light effect. I send the images and now they think it is a Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni).

Kumlien’s Gull is a large gull which breeds in the Arctic regions far west of Varanger. The main breeding sites are in Canada. But Kumlien’s Gull is migratory, wintering from Labrador west across the Great Lakes and south to New England There are some observations outside that range. Thus the bird is quite a regular vagrant in small numbers to Scandinavia, Great Britain,  Ireland and the Atlantic islands. So there was one observation in January 2012 near Trondheim, Norway or in February 2009 on Madeira. According to http://madeira.seawatching.net/articles/Kumliens_2009_Madeira.pdf there has been an unprecedented influx of Kumliens Gulls into Southern Europe in the early part of 2009. Numbers involved are difficult to gauge but as many as ten could have been recorded in Spain where previously only two birds had been recorded before. Others were recorded in Belgium and Portugal, with a single adult also seen on the Azores.

The reason for this influx is Continue reading Kumlien’s Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) on Varanger, Norway

Steller’s Eider female on Baltic Sea of Germany

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

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

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

Male King Eider on Baltic Sea of Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency landing for lapwings

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

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

Migratory birds herald spring

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

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

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

Snowy surprise for Cranes & Geese in nature reserve Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue in Germany

Tundra Bean Goose

Although the winter’s chill hold finally broke last week the wintertime is not over, already. The mild conditions and temperatures of up to around 8 degrees did not last for a long time. By 19th a Scandinavian high pressure was fully in charge and a strengthening easterly flow and increasing cloud cover ensured that temperatures were soon heading all the way back down again.

Not only the common songbirds responded well to the rapidly lengthening days and the suddenly mild conditions but also the first returning cranes. But these are early days indeed for spring migrants.

So it was quite a surprise to find at least 7 Common Crane (Grus grus) on an open field in the mist of the snow in the northern part of the nice Nature Reserve One called Knoblochaue. Together with its sister reserve Kuehkopf this reserve is famous for being the best riparian forest location not too far south of Frankfurt. The nature reserve (in german: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG) is a European Reserve und an excellent birding spot year-round.

As nice images of the Bean Goose of the (Sub-)species Tundra Bean Goose (Anser (fabalis) serrirostris), were still missing on bird-lens.com, I decided to visit the meadows on the northern side of the reserve called Continue reading Snowy surprise for Cranes & Geese in nature reserve Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue in Germany

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