Tag Archives: Common Crane

Ospreys attack White-tailed Eagle at the nest

FischadlerTheir nests are never far from water. The bulky structures are often high on a pylon for the power supply. Sometimes the nests are scattered over the landscape, sometimes they are not far from a road or a village. A nest of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) not far from a parallel main road made me linger early one morning. The early summer day was still very fresh. It was pleasantly cool. The air was filled with singing birds. The roaring calls of the Common Cranes (Grus grus) could be heard as well as the melodious song of the Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus).

When dawn allowed for the first light, male and female of the Osprey initially sat on the nest. Then a partner flew to a power pole about 100 meters away. Suddenly the Osprey sitting on the nest went up, then his partner. With high shouts they flew purposefully towards a wood. The reason was quickly recognized. A White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) had made its way to the lake along the edge of the wood. The proximity to the nest was not tolerated. The White-tailed Eagle was repeatedly attacked by the Ospreys. The alternating attacks were obviously considered by the White-tailed Eagle to be so uncomfortable or even threatening that it threw itself on its back a few times in the air and stretched its catch towards the Osprey. At some point the White-tailed Eagle had disappeared Continue reading Ospreys attack White-tailed Eagle at the nest

Gänsegeier in Aragonien

GänsegeierEin nicht weit entfernt von der Laguna de Gallocanta im Nordosten Spaniens, rund 100 Kilometer südwestlich der Stadt Saragossa liegendes Flusstal beherbergt eine Kolonie des Gänsegeiers (Gyps fulvus). Das bietet dem Vogelfotografen viele schöne Motive und die Möglichkeit Kraniche (Grus grus) in ihrem Rast- und Überwinterungsgebiet auf gut 1.000 m Höhe NN zu beobachten und zu fotografieren und anschließend einen Exkurs zu den Geiern zu machen. In den Vormittagsstunden beginnen die Vögel auf der Suche nach guter Thermik zu kreisen. In einem großen Schwarm ziehen sie ihre Runden über der Schlucht oder an den Felswänden entlang. Das können bis an die 100 Geier gleichzeitig sein. So ist der Naturfotograf nach dem Abflug der Kraniche sehr gut beschäftigt und kann vor der Rückkehr der Kraniche wieder zurück am See sein.

Am oberen Rand des Tals sitzend stellt man für die fliegenden Geier keinerlei Störung dar, so dass sie sich im Vorbeiflug auf nur wenige Meter nähern. Das ist ein unvergleichliches Erlebnis. Eine schöne Alternative ist die Schlucht von La Choca in der Nähe von Lecina in der Sierra de Guara in den Vorpyrenäen. Der Naturpark der Sierra ist ein wunderschönes und ziemlich Continue reading Gänsegeier in Aragonien

Kaiseradler im Randowbruch zwischen Grünz, Zehnebeck und Zichow

KaiseradlerNach einem wunderschönen aber recht kühlen Morgen hatte sich der Himmel mit hochnebelartiger Bewölkung zugezogen. Ein Plattenweg führte nach Süden zu Wiesen, die am Vortag gemäht worden waren. Massen an Schreitvögeln nutzte die Chance, sich zwischen den gemähten Halmen den ein oder anderen Happen – meist Mäuse – zu sichern. An Graureiher (Ardea cinerea) standen sicher 30 Exemplare auf einem Hektar Wiese, dazu sicher 20 Weißstörche (Ciconia ciconia) und einige Kraniche (Grus grus). Auch Greife, darunter Rohrweihen (Circus aeruginosus), Mäusebussarde (Buteo buteo) und Schreiadler (Clanga pomarina) warteten im Hintergrund auf ihre Chance.

Nur ein Vogel, eine Besonderheit, war noch nicht aufgetaucht. Die ersehnte Sichtung des immaturen Kaiseradlers – wohl ein Weibchen im 5. Kalenderjahr – konnte noch nicht vermeldet werden. Ein Blick entlang einer Baumreihe ließ mich stutzen. Ein Greif mit einer weit auf den Rücken reichenden blonden „Mähne“ saß in einer Esche an einer gemähten Wiese. Ja, das war Sissi, der Kaiseradler (Aquila heliaca), der nun schon im 2. Jahr im sommerlichen Randowbruch zu finden ist. verlaufen. Wenig später, der Tag war noch jung und nur wenige Beobachter waren im Gebiet, konnte ich den Kaiseradler zusammen  mit einem subadulten Seeadler (Haliaeetus albicilla) auf einer Wiese sitzen sehen.

Hoch kreisend tauchte der Kaiseradler später am Tag kurz gegen 10:00 (das verpaßte ich leider) um dann gegen 14.10 und 15.00 Uhr Continue reading Kaiseradler im Randowbruch zwischen Grünz, Zehnebeck und Zichow

Der Sperber und die Canon 1DX Mark III: allererste Erfahrungen

SperberIn der dusteren Dämmerung eines Winterabends sitzt plötzlich ein Sperbermännchen (Accipiter nisus) auf einem rostigen Brückengeländer. Eigentlich wollte ich vorbei fliegende Kraniche (Grus grus), Silberreiher (Ardea alba) oder Seeadler (Haliaeetus albicilla) von einem Beobachtungsturm an den Teichen bei Stangenhagen im südlichen Brandenburg mit der neuen Canon 1DX Mark III fotografieren. Die letzte halbe Stunde des Tages ist häufig besonders ergiebig. Außerdem kann man damit die Performance bei LowLight, das Rauschverhalten der Canon 1DX Mark III ausprobieren.

Als der Sperber regungslos auf dem Brückengeländer sitzt, versuche ich sofort auf ihn zu fokussieren. Das gelingt mir nicht auf Anhieb. Vielleicht, weil ich als AF-Messfeldauswahl die in einer großen Zone ausgewählt hatte. Als ich Einzelfeld AF stelle, stellt die Kamera scharf und läßt den ruhig sitzenden Sperber auch nicht mehr los. Der Vogel scheint konzentriert auf ein Blickfeld, das sich auf gleicher Höhe befindet. Vielleicht ist er aber auch durch die geringe Lichtintensität beeinträchtigt. Jedenfalls bekommt er meine Aktivitäten aus dem Turm – Höhenunterschied so 4 – 5 Meter – herunter nicht mit und läßt sich so gut in mehreren Schritten fotografieren. Ich starte – noch von den Flugaufnahmen – von einer 1/ 500sec und gehe in Stufen herunter auf 1/30 sec. Beim Silent Continue reading Der Sperber und die Canon 1DX Mark III: allererste Erfahrungen

Kraniche im Rambower Moor

KranichSüd-östlich des malerischen Prignitz-Dörfchen Rambow öffnet sich der Blick in eine weite Ebene. Schilf und flache Gewässer sind schon von weitem zu sehen. Dazwischen stehen in der winterlichen Sonne hohe graue Gestalten. Es sind Kraniche (Grus grus), die hier mitten im Winter rasten. Sie heben sich wunderbar von dem gold-gelb der Schilfstengel hinter ihnen ab. Die Vögel sind schon in großer Distanz auszumachen. Im Rambower Moor kommen im März bis zu 1500 Kraniche zur nächtlichen Rast zusammen. Jetzt sind es natürlich viel weniger. Vielleicht ist es aber auch noch zu früh am Tag und auch zu sonnig. Dann verbringen die Kraniche mehr Zeit auf Maisfeldern und kommen erst später zu ihrem Rastplatz im Moor.

Eigentlich sollten sie nun in ihren Winterquartieren in Spanien und Frankreich sein. Doch scheint der Winter bisher nicht so grimmig zu sein, dass es sich lohnen würde, die weite Reise auf sich zu nehmen.

Das Rambower Moor bietet ihnen gute Bedingungen nicht nur für die Brut, sondern auch für die Rast und vielleicht auch die Überwinterung. In den flachen Gewässern finden sie Schutz vor Feinden, und der Tisch ist reich gedeckt für die grauen Vögel. Zu Dutzenden stehen sie im seichten Wasser. In der Überwinterungsphase treffen sich die Vögel in kopfstarken Gruppen, die sich an den nächtlichen Schlaf­plätzen dann wiederum mit anderen Verbänden zusammenschließen. Während der Rast bietet die Gruppe den Vögeln Schutz vor Feinden – je größer desto besser. Immer wieder zeigen die Kraniche ihre weit ausgebreiteten Schwingen, so als wollten sie jetzt schon mit den Balztänzen beginnen. Ansonsten wird vor allem gefressen. Die Kraniche lassen Continue reading Kraniche im Rambower Moor

Höckerschwan auf dünnem Eis

HöckerschwanEigentlich muß es heißen „Höckerschwan (Cygnus olor) in dünnem Eis“. An diesem frühen frostigen Dezembertag lag ein feiner Firnis aus Eis auf fast der gesamten Wasserfläche. Ein Höckerschwan, der wohl im Schilf übernachtet hatte, robbte und schob sich gegen die dünne Eisfläche, um eine Fläche weiter gen Seemitte zu erreichen. Das war eine ganz schöne Arbeit und daher eine ganze Weile zu beobachten. Immer wieder schoben sich dünne Eisplatten vor dem Schwan auf. Unverdrossen schob sich der Höckerschwan aber weiter vom Schilf weg. Irgendwo gefiel ihm die Stelle. Er schob ein größeres Rund frei und fing an ausgiebig zu baden. Immer wieder mußte das Gefieder zwischen den Badeaktivitäten mit dem Schnabel säuberlich behandelt werden. Warum er das nicht weiter am Schilfrand gemacht hatte, war nicht ersichtlich. Nach einer Weile, schob er sich wieder auf der gleichen Strecke zurück, denn das Eis hatte sich schon fast wieder geschlossen. Mit einem gewissen Unverständnis – so schien es zumindest – nahm er wahr, daß sich nun doch wieder Eisplättchen vor ihm auftaten. Als er am Schilf angekommen war, nutze er das im Vergleich zur Seemitte dünnere Eis am Uferrand, um sich eine ruhige Ecke im Schilfgürtel zu suchen.

Von den kleinen Flachlandflüssen Nuthe und Nieplitz wird südwestlich von Berlin eine einzigartige Niederungslandschaft begrenzt. Ein besonderes Vogelparadies ist mitten drin der flache Riebener See, der über einen geschlossenen Röhrichtgürtel verfügt. Verschiedene Rohrsängerarten (Acrocephalus sp.) besiedeln die Schilfzone des Sees. Ein geschützter Bohlensteg durch das Schilf Continue reading Höckerschwan auf dünnem Eis

Cranes in evening duet

KranichA pair of Common Cranes (Grus grus) are standing in the meadow in the twilight of dusk in Brandenburg. They obviously searched and found each other. While at the end of January an impressive migration of the cranes could be observed in Germany, arctic temperatures with two-digit minus degrees had performed over 3 weeks. The Common Cranes obviously could not impress that.

In the setting sun, they walked across a mowed wetland on the edge of a vast wetland and reed area. Again and again they walked towards each other after they had gone their own way shortly before. When they approached each other, especially when they were close together, they trumpeted their togetherness. The breath came from both throats and formed nicely visible vapor billowing in the icy cold evening air.

In addition to the rolling call, which can be heard above all from the flight formations, the Common Crane can also clearly distinguish the duet and a special warning call. The loud trumpet-like call is an Continue reading Cranes in evening duet

Cranes in the moor

KranichHumans have always been fascinated by the elegant birds. Their calls ring in the autumn the beginning of winter and announce its early end in early spring. a wintry tour led to the resting place of more than 100 birds in the Rambower Moor in Prignitz district in Brandenburg.

South-east of the picturesque village Rambow in western Brandenburg the view opens into a wide plain. Reeds and shallow waters can be seen from afar. In between are tall grey figures in the wintry sun. They are Common Cranes (Grus grus)  resting here in the middle of winter. They stand out wonderfully from the gold-yellow of the reeds behind them. The birds can already be seen at a great distance. In Rambower Moor, up to 1500 cranes will gather for a nightly rest in March. Of course, it is much less now. Maybe it is still too early in the day and too sunny. In good weathers Common Cranes spend more time on corn fields and come later to their resting place in the moor.

Actually, they should now be in their winter quarters in Spain and France. But winter does not seem so grim that it would be worth the Continue reading Cranes in the moor

Kraniche im abendlichen Duett

KranichEin Paar Kraniche (Grus grus) stehen auf der Wiese in der einfallenden Dämmerung. Sie haben sich offensichtlich gesucht und gefunden. Während es in Deutschland schon Ende Januar zu einem beeindruckenden Heimzug der Kraniche gekommen war, hatten sich dann über 3 Wochen arktische Temperaturen mit zweistelligen Minusgraden gebildet. Die Kraniche konnte das offensichtlich nicht beeindrucken.

In der untergehenden Sonne, liefen sie über eine abgemähte Feuchtwiese am Rande eines ausgedehnten Feucht- und Schilfgebiets. Immer wieder liefen sie aufeinander zu, nachdem sie kurz vorher noch eigene Wege gegangen waren. Wenn Sie aufeinander zugingen und insbesondere wenn sie nah beieinander standen, trompeteten sie ihre Zweisamkeit hinaus. Der Atem quoll aus beider Rachen und bildeten schön sichtbare Dampfschwaden in der eisig kalten Abendluft. Continue reading Kraniche im abendlichen Duett

Common Cranes in Zingst/ Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

KranichWho wants to observe the huge accumulations of Common Cranes (Grus grus) in fall, will find excellent opportunities near the seaside resort of Zingst in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Zingst and Darß were declared a National Park in 1990 due to their natural coastline and the unique so-called Boddenlandschaft. Together with the Fischland, they form a peninsula in the course of the Mecklenburg coast between Rostock and Stralsund.

When we started the first exploration on an early October morning, the sky was still pitch black. We headed south and wanted to be in front of the cranes at the known feeding grounds. But when we reached the town of Barth, the sky was already reddened by the morning sun, and crowds of wild geese and cranes were already calling out loudly over the city on the way to the harvested fields for finding food. So we were too late. Nevertheless, we stopped briefly, because it was not possible to concentrate on the road, as we were fascinated by the spectacle of the birds in the sky above us. Continue reading Common Cranes in Zingst/ Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Observation site for spring migration on the river Oder

SchwanzmeiseAfter having presented protected nature areas in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See, a recent blog was dealing with the Oder valley in general and The National Park Lower Oder especially. The National Park protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe.

A rainy, cloudy Sunday led me to the river Oder. Having refueled with gasoline and a Breakfast from a gas station I decided going to Criewener polder south of Schwedt. Criewen is a small village only 3 km south of the industrial city of Schwedt and roughly 100km north-east of Berlin. The car I parked just in front the bridge on the western side channel of the Oder. I grabbed the tripod, spotting scope and the Canon 4.0 / 400 DO from the car. So I walked up to a bench not far from the crossing between the entry road from the village of Criewen and the dike. Here you really an impressive view over the whole polder with riparian woods and wide Continue reading Observation site for spring migration on the river Oder

Young Whinchat on summer morning

BraunkehlchenA fresh morning. Thick layers of fog are lying over the wetlands of the Nuthe floodplain south of Berlin. 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 meadows along the river offer a diverse habitat structure. One family of Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra) with at least 2 juveniles were seen in uncut grassland. I placed the car not far from a pole inside the meadow, hoping a young Whinchat, I had seen before, to return. After a while the recently fledged Whinchat really returned to the pole. In the first morning light, it started to preen and stretch the wings. Obviously it wanted to get rid of their youngster’s feather dress. Successful, as it seems. With a surprised look, the young Whinchat looked after the flying plume.

The area south of Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature. In addition to the natural richness this is a legacy of the division of Germany, which has prevented the city´s spread after the end of the 2nd World War like in no other city. This means, that even today you often have to pass the city limits only in order to stand in the middle of nature. One of these areas is the Continue reading Young Whinchat on summer morning

Waterfowl Spring migration on the flooded meadows of the river Oder/ Germany

SchnatterenteAlready several sites for nature protection with excellent birding ops in Brandenburg has been presented. One of these sites is a protected nature area in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions in Germany´s sprawling capital Berlin you might be interested as a birdwatcher to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds. Berlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination and easy to reach by air or car. So the city is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion.

One of these sites is a National Park in Oder valley (Polish: Odra). The Oder is a river in Central Europe which rises in the Czech Republic and ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon of the Baltic Sea. The National Park Lower Oder protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe with its adjacent slopes, mixed deciduous forests and dry grasslands.

April demonstrated spring time with pleasant temperatures, a pleasant southern wind and usually sunshine. The first weekend provided a significant boost in migratory birds. Especially thrushes – including the first Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) were Continue reading Waterfowl Spring migration on the flooded meadows of the river Oder/ Germany

Birding Berlin: Charlottenburg Palace

BuntspechtBirding parks in big cities are often a stopgap in between two family arrangements. But parks are often good for excellent surprises. Berlin should result in a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion. I started from the flat of a friend at  Prenzlauer Berg. Soon we arrived at a subway (U-Bahn) station at street level. We bought a U-bahn ticket for the westbound trip to Sophie-Charlotte Platz from where it is a short walk along Schlossstrasse to the Charlottenburg Palace. We had been told that the extensive gardens here are home to a pair of Middle-spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos medius), a species that we had seen only once previously. The huge park is said to be full of gorgeous flowers and birds. It must be very nice to walk along the streams in the shade of huge trees. Unfortunately it rained and we decided to wait a while. After some hours, the weather Continue reading Birding Berlin: Charlottenburg Palace

Fotografie in der Elbtalaue in Brandenburg

SaatgansDie Untere Mittelelbe Niederung ist ein wahres Juwel deutscher Flußlandschaften. Zum ersten Mal sah ich sie im Februar 1992 – in den Anfangsjahren nach der Wende in der DDR: die Elbtalaue zwischen dem mecklenburgischen Boizenburg und HaveIberg. Seither habe ich die Untere Elbe schon häufig besucht, um zu fotografieren. Vorher aber verweile ich meist auf einer Holztreppe am steil aufragenden Elbufer bei Boizenburg und genieße den atemberaubenden Blick über eine der letzten noch halbwegs intakten Urstrom-Landschaften Mitteleuropas. Die beste Gelegenheit zur Einstimmung auf einen schönen, produktiven Fototag. Ein besonderes Highlight an der Elbe ist die Vogelfotografie. Diese kann sehr schön aus dem Auto heraus betrieben werden. Äsende Gänse, Sing- oder Zwergschwäne (Cygnus sp.) lassen sich gut aus dem am Straßen- oder Wegrand parkenden und obendrein warmen Auto heraus fotografieren. Um genügend Abstand zu halten, sind Brennweiten von Continue reading Fotografie in der Elbtalaue in Brandenburg

Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

SaatgansBerlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but the capital of Germany offers surprisingly good birding. Berlin is already a top tourist destination. But it is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion, too. Many airlines use the Airport of Berlin, but it is possible to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main as well and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day.

If you have spare time between two tourist attractions and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to bird for typical European birds. One of these sites to mention is the lake of Guelper See in the west of the State of Brandenburg. The small village of Guelpe, south of the Continue reading Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

RubinkehlchenHappy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. This turned out to be already on the first – very successful – photo morning of my stay on a late autumn day on Happy Island. Wow, a real hotspot for migratory bird observation on China’s south-east coast. I got up at 5:45 am. I grabbed not only the Continue reading On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

Merlin im Fiener Bruch – Brandenburg

MerlinAls holarktischer Brutvogel ist der Merlin (Falco columbarius) in ausreichender Zahl nur im Winterhalbjahr in Mitteleuropa anzutreffen. Vor allem im Oktober und bis Mitte November kommen dazu Durchzügler, die den kleinsten einheimischen Falken auch für ortsansässige Ornithologen erlebbar und beobachtbar machen.

In dem Zusammenhang soll erwähnt werden, daß die nähere und weitere Umgebung von Berlin auch ein Paradies für Vogelbeobachter ist. Einer dieser Gebiete um Berlin ist der Fiener Bruch bei Continue reading Merlin im Fiener Bruch – Brandenburg

Birding around Berlin: Great Bustards in Brandenburg

GrosstrappeBerlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination. Berlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but, Berlin offers surprisingly good birding. So the city is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions, if you are fed-up with the museum visits in crowdy downtown Berlin, have enjoyed nightlife extensively and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds.

One of these sites is a protected nature area in the Havellaendisches Luch between the towns of Continue reading Birding around Berlin: Great Bustards in Brandenburg

Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue

Eurasian Golden-Oriole, maleFrankfurt 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.

One of these sites is the best riparian forest 60 km south of Frankfurt, called Kuhkopf or in Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue

Canon EOS 1DX: Twilight performance

Some months ago, a blog was written on bird-lens.com to review the Canon EOS 1DX and explain some aspects of dynamic range and noise in the CanonSumpfohreule, EOS 1DX performance.

As mentioned in the blog, some tests in photo laboratories show, that the dynamic range of the Canon EOS 1Dx benefits from having “only” 18 million pixels with a full frame sensor. For this you get a high dynamic range and a better signal / noise ratio. The Canon EOS 1Dx produces images with so little noise, that you can safely use high ISO values.

To give more examples, I show some images shot at dusk at the Laguna de Gallocanta. A Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) was hunting over Continue reading Canon EOS 1DX: Twilight performance

Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Going for Laguna de Gallocanta, this lake on 1,000 m asl in the middle of Northern Spain, seems to be good for impressive numbers of wintering birds as well as Steinadlerfor surprises. Some years ago, there has been observations of a Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). Actually, I wanted to watch and photograph Common Cranes (Grus grus) on their resting and wintering grounds. These birds breed in Germany, Fennoscandia and the Baltic States, and then take a western migration route through Europe to wintering areas. It is estimated that the total number of birds that migrate along the western route count up to 70,000 individuals. Most of them 50,000-60,000 wintering in Spain. The rest of Continue reading Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Birding around Frankfurt – Mittlere Horloffaue/ Wetterau

Common CraneFrankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. It is well known although the city limits inhabit only roughly 600,000 people. But the greater Frankfurt area of course is much more populated. If you are on business in Frankfurt and have some spare time between two meetings and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to walk a bit and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the countryside around the area south of the town “Hungen” less than 30km south-east of Giessen.  The nature reserve is located in the Medium Horloffaue. The next villages are Trais- Horloff and Utphe.

The reserve includes open water mostly with shallow water levels, reeds, marshes and mud banks and residues of softwood floodplain forest. It has also created a lot of extensively used agricultural area with hedges and shrubs. The area is an important stopover for migratory birds, Common Crane (Grus grus), among others, and is also a breeding Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt – Mittlere Horloffaue/ Wetterau

Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)

Taiga Bean GooseIn the Friedländer Große Wiese especially south of Mariawerth  but also north of Heinrichswalde 3,000 Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) could be seen in only about 2 hours in the early morning good of an early Novermber day. Obviously they flew up from the nature reserve “Galenbecker lake” which is right to the south. The preferred nighttime roost have probably been one of the polder at Heinrichswalde and the large flooded polder south- east of Fleethof. Fleethof itself is about 10km west of Heinrichswalde. Anyway, flocks of geese calling loud flew at 7:30 across the polder dikes to the north. Later I went to the so-called Friedlaender Große Wiese – a large meadow area. The Friedlaender Große Wiese is very accessible by paved and partly concreted driveway lanes without access restrictions. As I passed some harvested corn fields especially south of Mariawerth , I was lucky enough to see Bean Goose together with Common Cranes (Grus grus) in these fields. Since this flat area – a former alkaline fen-  is far away from densely populated areas, there is less interference by joggers or dogwalkers than in the south-western part of Germany. Insofar the geese can enjoy normally quite a calm day to feed. So the situation is quite different from that which was described in the blog “Cranes & Geese in winter.” The good numbers of geese on the harvested corn fields not so far away from the road were amazing. I went pretty much all the roads and paths along the vast meadows. I kept seeing large groups of geese, which were very inconspicuous on the seemingly empty, harvested maize fields. They can camouflage very well. Sometimes only when geese fly in, you will pay attention to the flocks of geese.

Among the observed geese were also Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)

Cranes (Grus grus) at the Guenzer lake in Vorpommern

Common Crane

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Cranes at their resting places during migration are a great subject of photography. The biggest resting places of the Common Cranes in Germany can be found in Brandenburg on the Linumer fish ponds and in Mecklenburg- Vorpommern at the Guenzer lake. During migration time over 70,000 Common Cranes has been reported.

On the east side of the Guenzer lake a observation tower is erected, right next to the tree-lined chausee. This site is operated by the Crane Center in the little town of Groß Mohrdorf. Very nice observations are possible from this site or even right from the parking lot. To take account of the growing interest of nature lovers and wildlife photographers, ​​hides were set-up in the area of the meadows near the lake. The set-up times and other detailed information can be found their homepage.

The hides are wooden cabins which are larger than those which are set-up at the Lake Hornborga in southern Sweden. On behalf of Kranichschutz Deutschland (Crane Protection Germany) association some feeding areas were established. It is sown cereals to distract the cranes to feed on farmland. Therefore good numbers of cranes can be observed around this area.

The pictures in the gallery  were Continue reading Cranes (Grus grus) at the Guenzer lake in Vorpommern

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

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) at Laguna Gallocanta/ Spain

Sandhill CraneDuring the last days one Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) continues to stay at the Laguna Gallocanta in the south-western part of Aragon, Spain. This bird is obviously only the 3rd record for Spain since 2009 although there are more observations from the northern part of the Western Palearctic. The Sandhill Crane is present at least since last Sunday, February 24th 2013 but with wintering European Cranes (Grus grus) numbering 35,000 individuals now at the site and occasionally severe snowfall to find the bird in the crowd is a real challenge for the travelling twitchers, who arrived already in good numbers.  Updates and pictures from the site of the twitch you see here.

The Laguna de Gallocanta is one of the largest lakes in Spain – obviously the largest natural lake in Spain covering around 1,500 ha of open water within a total area of almost 7,000 ha. The lake is fed mainly by rainwater, giving rise to dramatic changes in water level from year to year. In wet years the lake can be vast while in dry years during the hot summers the lake dries out completely. As the lake is at an altitude of 1000 m there can be some very low temperatures in winter. The water of the lake is saline but freshwater springs allow for localized patches of reeds and reedmace.

The lake is one of the most important bird sites in Spain. Common Cranes that breed in Fennoscandia and the Baltic states take the west European migration route to their wintering grounds. lt is supposed that the total number of birds migrating along this route is now in the order of 70,000, and most of these, some 50,000-60,000, winter mainly in Spain, with smaller numbers in Portugal. Thus the lagoon is the largest wintering area of the European/ Eurasian cranes. The number of cranes showed a maximum of 35,000 in recent years. The lagoon is subject to the Ramsar Convention since 1995 and is also a National Nature Reserve.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 5 „Galliformes und Gruiformes “ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim does not mention the Sandhill Crane for Middle Europe.

To cope with the growing demand Continue reading Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) at Laguna Gallocanta/ Spain

Birds at vulcano lakes in Debre Zeit – Ethiopia

Spending two full days during a stop-over from the Seychelles, we wanted to avoid the crowd in downtown Addis Ababa. We were lucky to arrange to stay in a lodge situated on the rim of a vulcano with a lake on the ground near Debre Zeit approx. 45 km south of Addis Ababa. Our main interest was to have a rest after the tropical sun on the Seychelles, enjoying the fresh air, the steel-blue sky and the birds – of course. They were abundant. Within one morning we saw Black-winged Lovebird (Agapornis taranta), Grey-headed Woodpecker (Dendropicos spodocephalus), Red-faced Crombec (Sylvietta whytii), Rueppell’s Robin-Chat (Cossypha semirufa), a female Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Kenya Yellow-rumped Seedeater (Serinus reichenowi), Swainson’s Sparrow (Passer swainsonii), and Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus).  The result you can see here!

The Babogaya Lake Viewpoint Lodge says it guarantees to its visitors the observation of 50 different african bird species on 24 hours in the compound and on the volcanic lakeside A list can be found at their website. Of course we took the chance to explored other lakes in the surroundings, too. From the beginning November until mid of February, 3,000 Common cranes (Grus grus) are flying in every evening from the surrounding fields to the swamps west of Lake Babogaya.

The hole lodge is a great nature-area with original houses, a nice garden over four floors on a steep slope over the wonderful Babogaya-Lake. A paradise for the keen birdwatcher as well as for the beginner in birdwatching who approaches that pastime in a relaxing attitude.

Bird-Lens is mainly a website to suit the growing demand for top shots of the species of the Western Palearctic. Consequentyl Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the array of pictures of birds you can find in the Western Palearctic. Trips to tourist spots like the Seychelles (also) to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic are part of the program and were already very successful. More nice images you find in the gallery or in the “Pictures Shop”. Just give me a message, if Bird-lens could serve you with an images also outside the range of the Western Palearctic. Images of e.g. Africa are well on stock, too.

Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com

Cranes on China’s Helgoland, PART II

I was happy to experience a trip to Happy Island at the end of October. A 10-day trip in 2007. So far so good concerning the character of Happy Island in comparison to the vagrant hotspot Helgoland. What Helgoland does not have are resting cranes. But on Happy Island you could see a total of 4 types very well. These were, of course, above all, our “normal” Cranes, Grus grus, then White-naped Crane, Grus vipio, Red-crowned Crane, Grus japonensis, and eventually even a single Sandhill (Canada) Crane, Grus Canadensis. For the last one this was  only the third time ever that there has been an observation on Happy Island. Also Siberian Crane, Grus leucogeranus, Hooded Crane, Grus monacha and Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo have allegedly already been proven. Happy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. Hope that this is true for the future, too. During my visit in 2007, extensive construction work was in progress to make the island more interesting for “normal” day trippers and to improve touristic infrastructure. Ditches and canals were dug to pedal with small boats. But, the ongoing construction work had some good advantages, too. The excavated material was used to provide quite a high hill of sand piling up in the middle of the island. This turned out to be an ideal vantage point to watch the migration of the mornings. Passing birds on eye-level (sometimes 10 meters) were a perfect experience. The derelict (but cheap) beach huts were demolished in the following year to my visit without temporary replacement. The future will show whether Happy Island can continue to be China´s Helgoland China – perhaps with better accommodation!

A nice selection of bird images of that trip can be seen in the gallery. In a different gallery you also find impression of the landscape of that nice Continue reading Cranes on China’s Helgoland, PART II