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

Rotmilane bremsen Windkraft-Ausbau

Red KiteNaturschutz-Initiativen und der streng geschützte Rote Milan, Milvus milvus, erweisen sich als größte Hindernisse für den Windkraft-Ausbau in Deutschland. Der Rote Milan war ja schon häufiger Gegenstand der Blogs auf www.bird-lens.com. So z.B. hier oder hier. Der Rotmilan ist ein Charaktervogel der mitteleuropäischen Landschaften. Etwa 65% des Weltbestandes des Rotmilans kommt in Deutschland vor. Die ehrgeizigen Ziele zur Energiewende sowohl der aktuellen Bundesregierung als auch vor allem der grün-roten Landesregierungen geraten mit der Rücksicht auf den Roten Milan in Gefahr.
Vor allem die Forderung nun verstärkt Waldstandorte als Standorte für 200 Meter hohe Windkraftanlagen zu nutzen, stößt auf Kritik. Ein Beispiel ist aus Baden-Württemberg. So sollten etwa fünf Hektar Wald mitten im “Großen Hau” bei Horb im Schwarzwald abgeholzt werden um Rotoren aufzustellen. Der Wald ist aber nicht nur ein beliebtes Naherholungsgebiet, er ist auch Heimat viele geschützter Tiere. Seit Jahrzehnten wurde der Wald zum naturnahen Plenterwald umgestaltet, er ist deshalb besonders artenreich. Hier kommt der Rote Milan in einem guten Bestand vor. Aber auch andernorts sind es immer wieder Rotmilane, die den weiteren Windkraft-Ausbau bremsen.

In dem konkreten Fall jedenfalls dauerte es nicht lange, bis sich eine Bürgerinitiative gegen die Pläne der Stadt Horb bildete. Es gab Info-Abende, Unterschriftenlisten und ein Waldfest, zu dem viele Bürger kamen. Auch der Naturschutzbund Nabu lehnte den Standort ab. Doch die Stadt war wild entschlossen. “Wir wussten, dass uns nur noch der Rotmilan helfen kann”, sagte ein Vertreter einer lokalen Naturschutzinitiative. Tatsächlich war auf den streng geschützten Greifvogel Verlass. Heute ist das Windpark-Projekt Continue reading Rotmilane bremsen Windkraft-Ausbau

Pelagic specialities on Bird-Lens

Great ShearwaterOn the western edge of the western palearctic pelagic birds are living and migrating. To see them, Bird-lens.com managed several trips already to Portugal and the Canary Islands. Now migrating seabirds with a more northern circle of migration could be observed on several pelagic trips with Joe Pender on his boat “Sapphire” off-shore the Isles of Scilly. A great experience. Thus for the keen birdwatcher of western palearctic birds these pelagic species do not need to stay on status “highly though-after mega birds”, but you can see them, too.

To see birds like Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis), Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus), Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), European Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus ), Great Skua (Catharacta skua), Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus), Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus), Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus ) and maybe even a Fea´s or Cape Verde Petrel or a Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) in their element, a pelagic trip is a must!. A nice selection of the Images shot during the recent season you will find here or here!

It is advisable to go for locations on the western edge of the United Kingdom and book one of the pelagic trips – preferable with a reliable skipper like Joe is.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer birds of the western palearctic from science & public customers Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures shot in the UK. Are you interested? A first impression you will find in the gallery here. Just give me a message, if Bird-lens could serve you with additional requests.
Other successful shootings you can see under: http://www.bird-lens.com/2012/09/09/pelagic-birds-in-the-western-palearctic/

Occurrence and habitat of Eurasian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) in Brandenburg

Eurasian Pygmy-OwlThis small owl is the sole member in Europe of a worldwide spread genus Glaucidium. The owl inhabits mainly the coniferous forest zone, especially the upland and mountain areas up to the tree line in Central Europe. But in the 19th Century this owl was widespread distributed in all the mountain ranges of central Europe and their forelands and well represented in the North German / Polish lowlands at many locations.

In the german Red List of breeding birds the pygmy owl is classified as
regular breeding native bird species but regarded as “rare”. In the last decades the population trend is positive, this is ture for the long term and at many sites for the short term, too. Additionally there are more and more records from the lowlands in recent years. A nearly comprehensive investigation in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxonia) in (2001/2002) resulted in a population count of 170-230 pairs. Particularly important here is the well established lowland population in the Lüneburger Heide (Heath), where the first records date back as far as 1977. Now (2001/2002) 23 – 35 pairs defend their territories.

More than one reason to investigate the situation in Brandenburg a state with a landscape very comparable in many topographical aspects. A similar development trend is also emerging in Brandenburg, whose maximum height is about 200 meters n. NN is. Secured older records ‘before 1990 are not available for the state. Since the first reliable records of the Eurasian Pygmy-Owl in the 1990s some areas, particularly in the south of Brandenburg were studied in greater detail. These studies did show that Continue reading Occurrence and habitat of Eurasian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) in Brandenburg

Birding in the city of Bucharest – Vacaresti wetland

Whiskered Tern feeding young with fishIn the South-Western corner of the capital of Romania, near and alongside the Dâmboviţa River, one of the nature jewels of Bucharest can be found. Park the car on the sidewalk and quickly you can see the first Whiskered Tern already, which fly croaking from the river and disappear behind you. Often the bird is carrying a small fish in its beak. Parallel to the city road there is a high dam which does not seem to promise too much. But then – if you stand on the dam – you will see a wide swampy landscape with only a few scattered willows. Otherwise, a lot of open water and almost no people. This is surprising, because right next door some pretty looking apartment buildings had been built in the last years. This is Vacaresti!
Soon you will hear the first Great Reed Warbler. A real bonus bird is the abundant Eurasian Golden Oriole. The Orioles you can hear all the time when you are walking on one of the paths that cross through the area. The paths – mainly trampled by anglers – pass the many ponds very closely. Thus keep a little distance, so the birds will not flush before you see them. If you keep quiet, you will see many birds – especially waders, ducks and herons. Last time, I had a female Common Pochard, right in the first pond. Whiskered Terns breed in the area and can be seen – as documented in the Gallery (here) – very closely feeding the youngsters.
The Vacaresti area was a development project of the ancient communist regime. Actually, planned as reservoir (flood protection and urban recreation area), this plan was abandoned after 1989 and the Vacaresti lake was created in its present form. Today, after more than 20 years, the area is a very interesting case of a natural ecological succession in an urban area. The area is approximately 155 hetares and is now home to a self-sustaining ecosystem with grasslands, lakes, temporary pools, puddles and partly an extensive reed beds. The area is home to many species of plants and animals and some of them are nor very common species. A team of botanists of the Botanical Garden Bucharest has identified two major plant communities: the Danube (Danubian) community and a community of settlement areas (anthropic community). Me, Cristian Mihai, have intensively studied the area visiting it many times in roughly 4 years (between 2007-2011) and identified more than Continue reading Birding in the city of Bucharest – Vacaresti wetland

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