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

Great Crested Grebes on floating nest

Great Crested Grebe on nestGreat Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) are common birds in Germany. Its population is therefore largely constant. Following severe persecution in the 19th century a significant recovery was observed since the mid-20th century. The grebes benefited mainly from the increase in the food supply of small fish in nutrient-rich waters. However, their habitat by water sports activities as well as fertilizers and pesticides from agriculture is also threatened from time to time. Not to be underestimated is the illegal persecution by fishermen.

It was a big surprise when people told me that in the immediate vicinity of my home a couple of grebes should breed. The area was well known as a recreational area – a lake with pedal boats, swimming & bathing areas, round trips, anglers and dog meeting points. I did not remember to have identified any riparian vegetation zone with reeds or rushes. Only mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) had their paradise on earth there, because they were fed by careless walkers regularly with tons of bread. At such a lake could never grebes breed, so I thought! So I let the matter rest.

About six weeks later I was looking for an opportunity to test the autofocus of my newly purchased camera, a Canon EOS 1 Mark IV with a Canon 400mm f4,0 DO. I remembered the Mallards Continue reading Great Crested Grebes on floating nest

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

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