Brandenburg, 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
After 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
A 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:
This 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
After 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
Norderney, 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
The 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
During 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 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
Today 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
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 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:
Als (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