This winter wildlife heaven is often full of birds. Probably the most spectacular (and noisy) are the thrushes and European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to feast on the unfrozen meadows. Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) winter out on the remote parts of the meadows, but will regularly hunt the lakes and wetland down to the shores of Blankensee. In the hawthorn and crab apple trees you might see Redwings (Turdus iliacus) and hundreds of Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris). Both Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) and – to a lesser extent – Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) over-winter near the Ungeheuerwiesen and occasionally drop in for a feed or even to spend the night. Frozen days might even reveal the usually shy Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) as it is forced to leave the cover of vegetation in the ditches to find something to feed.
An excellent stake-out is an observation tower on the south-eastern edge of the Ungeheuerwiesen. Photographic opportunities are ideal for flying birds. It results in options to take pictures of the birds from above as well as to take pictures at eye level. Continue reading Ungeheuerwiesen in winter
Birding in Israel in general is unique. But the observation of the spring migration of thousands of raptors is literally breathtaking. The Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus) is one of the first raptors, you can observe migrating. On good days, migration starts as early as before 8 am. Then the birds pass the city of Eilat between Sholmo and Mount Yoash in about 300-400 meters above sea level (asl). During the morning, migration normally moves a little to the northwest of the area between Mount Yoash and Moon Valley. However, the migration may also switch to southeast, directly over Eilat if there is bad weather in the Negev desert. The Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) forms the conclusion of migratory events in the spring around the end of May. Approx. 1 million birds of this species migrate within just two weeks through the area, in some years, the birds migrate even in the course of just one week. In early May usually the temperature drops at night below 25 degrees Celsius, which means that the Honey Buzzards do not have to wait until the air is heated by daybreak. Therefore, you can already Continue reading Bird Migration in Eilat/ Israel
Im gaukelnden Flug kommt ein Greifvogel tief über dem Schilf angeflogen. Eine markante Gesichtsmaske, eine helle Vorderflügelkante und ein brauner Körper macht die Art-Identifikation leicht. Es ist eine Rohrweihe (Circus aeroginosus). Als Alternativen käme im Winter die Kornweihe (Circus cyaneus) und die Wiesenweihe (Circus pygargus) Frage. In den Niederungsgebieten Brandenburgs sind vor allem Rohrweihen aber auch Wiesenweihen nicht selten.
Im Flugbild zeigt die Rohrweihe im Vergleich zur Wiesenweihe breitere, an der Spitze rundere Flügel. Die Oberseite der Männchen ist dreifarbig – überwiegend braun mit hellem Kopf, der Schwanz und die Armschwingen sind grau und die Flügelspitzen schwarz. Das Weibchen ist durchgängig dunkelbraun gefiedert, hat einen gelblichen Kopf und eine gelblich-weiße Kehle. Im Vergleich zum nur wenig größeren Mäusebussard ist die Rohrweihe schlanker und ihr Schwanz ist länger. Der Flug im Vergleich zur Wiesenweihe ist nicht gar so elegant und leicht. Die typische Flugweise besteht aus einer Reihe von Flügelschlägen, auf die eine Gleitphase mit flach V-förmiger Flügelhaltung folgt. Im Gleitflug wird der Flügelbug nach vorne geschoben. Die Flügel werden weniger stark angehoben als bei den beiden anderen heimischen Arten.
Der abgebildete Vogel weist Merkmale beider Geschlechter auf. Im Jugendkleid wirkt die Rohrweihe Continue reading Rohrweihe im Anflug
A 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
Im Nordosten Polens, etwa 200 Kilometer nordöstlich von Warschau, erstreckt sich eine einmalige Sumpflandschaft, die von vielen deutschen Tierfotografen inzwischen nicht mehr vernachlässigt wird. Der Biebrza-Nationalpark liegt zwar eigentlich nicht gleich vor unserer Haustür, doch stellt er für etliche Arten die westlichste Verbreitungsgrenze dar. So kann man an der Biebrza nach wie vor viele in Europa sonst schwierig zu sehende Arten wie Doppelschnepfe, Seggenrohrsänger oder Schreiadler relativ leicht sehen. Mit dem Auto schafft man die Fahrt an einem Tag. Von Berlin führt die Route über die A2 und dann ab Frankfurt/Oder weiter nach Poznan-Warschau-Bialystok.
Der Biebrza-Nationalpark, der „Europäische Amazonas” schützt ein riesiges Flußsystem mit ausgedehnten Feuchtwiesen, Wasserflächen, Sümpfen und Auwäldern. Der Park hat eine Größe von etwa 60.000 Hektar. Geprägt wird das Gebiet von dem Biebrza-Becken, einem außergewöhnlich weitläufigen Continue reading Vogelfotografie im Biebrza-Nationalpark im Frühjahr
Already 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
Breeding in the tundra zone of northern Europe, As holarctic guest bird Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) are encountered in Central Europe especially in the winter months. Rough-legged buzzards leave their high northern breeding areas by the end of September / early October. In increasing numbers they migrate in the central European region especially the North German / Polish lowlands a short while late. It is a striking accumulation of north-northeastern sightings observed for this Buteo-Buzzard. For Germany most reports came from North Friesland last year. But Brandenburg counties follow on the step. They are namely Prignitz, Havelland, Dahme-Spreewald and Uckermark.
During the winter months most Rough-legged Buzzards can be observed by mid-November and then especially in December to mid-February. With nearly 3,000 observations in 2014 (through mid-December) this species is not really rare in Germany. A comparable experience you do observe with the distribution of winter Hen (or Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus). Again, you will find Continue reading Birding around Berlin: Rough-legged buzzards on wintering grounds
Described in old literature as a rare vagrant, the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is much less rare in NW Europe nowadays. It is not yet clear, whether this is due to the numbers of birders in the field, increasing knowledge of the immature and adult female plumage, migrations watchpoints or due to a change in the migration patterns of this bird species. At least on the coast and in the eastern parts of Germany Pallid Harriers can be regarded as scarce migrants now. Visiting the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – very interesting observations of a hunting immature Pallid Harrier could be made. The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch are an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect habitat for raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Western marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) visit the area Continue reading Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland
Dancing Great Bustard (Otis tarda) at dawn. That must be a great photo project. The courtship is an incredible spectacle. The male Great Bustard transforms himself into a large, white ball of feathers. To do so, he turns the brown, patterned flight feathers out so that the white underside and the white feathers of the elbow face upwards. Than the tail flips up to the back and shows only the white down feathers. On a morning in mid March everything seems perfect. After a period of bad weather, it had cleared the day before and the weather forecast had announced freezing temperatures. When I left early in the morning, the sky was filled with stars. Not a cloud covered the sky and of the temperatures were in the minus degrees – as promised. One of the areas for the Great Bustard is a good half hour away from the my home town. The morning sun had cast a strip on the eastern horizon Continue reading Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany
Berlin, 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
Am Vorabend hatten sich teilweise dicke Wolken breit gemacht. Nun sind aber Sterne am Himmel zu sehen. Die Wolkenlücken sind deutlich größer. Ein schöner Morgen kündigt sich an. Gegen 5:00 mache ich mich auf den Weg. Das Ziel sind die Reckahner Teiche / Kloster Lehnin etwas südlich der A2 bei der Stadt Brandenburg. Ein besonderes Vogelparadies bilden verschiedene noch in Bewirtschaftung befindliche Fischteiche in der Nähe des kleinen Dorfes Reckahn. Für bewirtschaftete Teiche Continue reading Tüpfelsumpfhühner an den Reckahner Teichen in Brandenburg
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 some more spare time but only 2 hours between two flights, 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 German Kuehkopf. The nature reserve (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue) is the largest in Hesse, with Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – NSG Lampertheimer Altrhein
At least since Saturday, July 19, 2014, a plateau east of Marburg, the Schroecker Feld, is home to a male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) on. The Schroecker Feld near Marburg is roughly 100km distant from downtown Frankfurt/ Main. This Pallid Harrier male has very pale grey upperparts and is white below. In flight, the distinctive black wing tips can be seen. Young male Pallid Harrier look not so bright white, in the earliest stages, they have coloration similar to the female. This individual seemed very light, almost white, but had – as is recognizable in the photo of the flying male Pallid Harrier – some darker wash on the upper wings. Therefore the ornithologists unanimously call the bird a male in the third calendar year (autumn).
The bird stayed in the area on the following weekend. It was observed among corn fields and harvested fields in a specific area (N 8 ° 51’26 .39 “E / 50 ° 46’40 .46”) which is shown on the detailed maps as Ebsdorfergrund. The Pallid Harrier could usually be seen hovering for a short while in the evenings, sometimes until dark on / above the roost. The most of the day, however, the bird kept hidden. Continue reading Pallid Harrier on the Schroecker Feld north of Frankfurt/ M
Seit mindestens Samstag, den 19. Juli 2014, hält sich auf dem Plateau östlich von Marburg, das Schröcker Feld genannt wird, eine männliche Steppenweihe (Circus macrourus) auf. Die Weihe wirkte sehr hell, fast weiß, hatte aber – wie auf dem Foto des fliegenden Männchens der Steppenweihe erkennbar – einen schmutzigen Anflug auf Continue reading Steppenweihe – Weihentreff auf dem Schröcker Feld bei Marburg
Although the capital of Germany, Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature, too. 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 Nature Park “Lowlands of Nuthe and Nieplitz”. The small rivers Nuthe and Nieplitz are located south-west of Berlin and form Continue reading Bearded Tits south of Berlin
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.
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
Based on a message in Ornitho.de in the beginning of May I when visited the Schiersteiner water works in the vicinity of Wiesbaden in the Rheingau region. This area is about 50 km west from the Frankfurt city center. A singing Reed Warbler had been seen. Maybe a nice photo opportunity. Shortyl after arrival at least one individual of an intensively singing Great Reed-Warbler was found . The individual was singing all the time – as shown in the photo. It showed-up repeatedly on the high stalks ends of last year’s reeds in a water pond called “the Lagoon”. The water body is easily detected from the flood dike. The shooting Continue reading Observations of a Great Reed-Warbler in the Rhine Valley
The nature reserve Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kühkopf-Knoblochsaue) is one of the best sites of riparian forest along the river Rhine. The reserve is the largest protected area in Hesse, with 2,369 hectares. It is located on the right bank of the upper Rhine. Towns nearby are Leeheim, Erfelden, Stockstadt and Biebesheim all roughly 60km south of Frankfurt/ Main. The NSG comprises an artificial puncture of the former Rhine floodplain. It is characterized by islands, riparian woods and meadows. Additional features are open water areas, oxbows, mud fields, reed-beds, floodplain meadows and soft wood forest (willows and poplars) and hard wood forest (including oak and elm). The area has a bird list of about 250 species. Approx. 120 species of birds breed here.
With fellow ornithologists I organized another birding walk along the banks of the Rhine at Kühkopf a few weeks ago. The goal was to see various species of water birds, the first migratory Continue reading Lowland birds in and around Kuehkopf
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 for 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