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

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

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

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

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

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

Hide Photography in Bulgaria in July; Images from the Dobruja

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

No disappointment!

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

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

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

Copula in flight of Alpine Swift in Romania´s Carpathians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds of heath in Brandenburg

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

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

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

Summer observations of Greenish Warbler in Germany

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

Western Orphean Warbler in Devon

Western Orphean WarblerA strange singing Sylvia – Warbler, an industrial complex, not looking very promising and a mega bird! This observation could be made on November 5th 2003 in the Industrieterrein Arnestein in Middelburg/ Zeeland in The Netherlands. The photo you see was made at that time. Quite difficult to shoot the skulker.
A comparable observation could be made now in Devon. It is by the Teign Estuary at Newton Abbot. A strange singing Sylvia – Warbler was discovered by a 15 year-old schoolboy in a bush. His name is Laurie A and he found this bird close to his home in South Devon on 22 May. After consulting some bird books and other birdwatchers they made a first guess, that it was a Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca). Fortunately, he sound-recorded his observation and whilst browsing his website today some friends took an interest in the bird and realised it was something much better. More british birdwatchers visited the site in the evening. The bird was singing immediately upon arrival but was particularly skulking, only allowing brief observations. It matched the song of Western Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) perfectly and continued singing until late in the evening hours. It is supposed a male Western Orphean Warbler present in Devon. The observers supposed very fast, that it was an Orphean, but only the sound recordings confirmed it as Western Orphean Warbler. So far obviously one of the first records of the western species / subspecies for the UK. Previously, there has been a similar record from Cornwall, where a singing male was reported near Saltash on 20th-22nd May 1991.

For more about DIRECTIONS you will find here:

All 4 Sylvia – Warblers in Weilbacher Kiesgrube near Frankfurt

Common WhitethroatThis morning all 4 species of Sylvia-Warblers which regularly occur in Germany could be seen. First the male of a Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) showed up in the first light of this chilly but sunny morning. Then a beautiful singing individual of a Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) could be seen very near to a observation tower which is located on the eastern end of the old gravel pit. A Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) showed up briefly afterwards. And finally even a silent Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) could be seen catching a caterpillar in a dense bush.

When photographing it was obvious to see that breeding is in full swing. Singing and other territorial habits were rare and normally quite short – with the exception of the singing individual of a Common Whitethroat and a Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos).

A sunny morning with clear sky after several rainy days was a good reason to make the trip to that abandoned gravel pit which is now a nature reserve and try to photograph some special birds.

This early morning on a sunny day (but quite cold in the first hours) was a real pleasure – even from the point of ornithology. In addition to the shots of the Warblers, it was possible to see and photograph birds like European Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia turtur),  Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), Eurasian Golden-Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) and Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes). Good contributions to the bird-lens portfolio and possible to see here in the Continue reading All 4 Sylvia – Warblers in Weilbacher Kiesgrube near Frankfurt

Melodious Warbler in the lower Wetterau near Frankfurt

Melodious WarblerAfter a message on Ornitho.de – an portal for internet sightings – I visited the city of Bad Vilbel – a suburb called Massenheim- in the lower Wetterau about 20 km north from Frankfurt city. There, the reported Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) could be discovered singing. Bird-lens was ablte to shoot some photo documents.

The slowly eastward spreading bird is increasingly present in western Germany. The Melodious Warbler normally arrives in the northern part of the distribution area in mid-April and settles  preferably in young successional stages. This warbler prefers dense vegetation with broom, blackberries, hawthorn and rosehip. These plants can be found on wasteland, former clearcuts, fallow vineyards, gravel Continue reading Melodious Warbler in the lower Wetterau near Frankfurt

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) on Norderney

Northern HarrierNorderney, the most densely populated island in the german Wadden Sea is with good reason called a bird paradise. Terns, Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) , Brent Geese (Branta bernicla), Greylag Geese (Anser anser)and many other birds of water are to be found there, as well as the rare Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), or raptors as Kestrels, Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) and Buzzards. The birds are back from their wintering grounds in southern Europe and Africa and have reached their breeding grounds on Norderney safe.

On the meadows at the airport breed Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) defend clamoring their turf against intrusive neighbors in the Grohdeheller, Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) flutes from their perch on the fence posts along the salt marshes in the Grohdepolder and the dunes to the east of the island host again a large breeding colony of gulls. Breeding pairs of the rare Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) live on the island, too. The Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus, also called the Hen Harrier was the main reason to arrange a trip to Norderney in early May this year. Finally the Northern Harriers have returned from their wintering areas. On a trip to China – on Happy Island – Northern Harrier could be photographed very successfully on migration  -interesting enough only females. The courtship and breeding period should now be photographed.

For shots of the beginning of courtship, it was too late. Beginning and mid of April you can observe Continue reading Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) on Norderney

Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Red Kite low over fieldsThe last days in May were stormy days in the Vogelsberg on the edge of the Wetterau. At least 8 Red Kites (Milvus milvus) flew over 3 various nearby maize fields along with at least 25 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and two Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The were flying in the upwinds very easily. Obviously they liked the windy weather with some sunshine and than dark clouds of thunderstorm very much. Such a large assembly of birds of prey, especially Red Kites in such a small area I had not seen before. From time to time, the raptors landed and caught a – not determinable – small prey and sit down among the green stalks. After a while, even a White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, appeared and searched the field for food. A great picture. The Red Kites are said to be convicted robbers to other birds by attacking them to leave their food. But this could not be observed. Certainly one hour the kites could be seen circling low over the green rows of corn field. Some individuals of the Red Kites were only 15 meters from the small country road near Ulfa away. Once the car stopped, they flew on a little further and then circled over the field.

Red Kites reach a size of 70 cm and a wingspan of about 160 cm. The breeding range of the Red Kites is limited to Central Europe in light deciduous and mixed forests of the lower mountains. Only part of the population Continue reading Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Vagrant European Roller near Tuebingen in Germany

Eurasian RollerDuring the last week a European (Eurasian) Roller, Coracias garrulous, could be seen south of Wurmlingen a suburb of Rottenburg am Neckar southwest of Tuebingen. The bird stayed for almost one week in a flat area of meadows and agricultural fields with the name Suelcher Field (Sülcher Feld). The roller was observed the first time on Friday, May, 10th of 2013 by Stefan Hecht. The bird was quite mobile but usually stayed in several dedicated locations in the Suelcher field. Often it was observed sitting on the power lines and also in a special bush where this images could be shot on May, 13th 2013.  The last observations could be made on May, 15th.  Some observers saw the bird hunting insects both from the ground and in the air and then consuming it on one of its preferred perches.

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

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